MerinoLink project growth sparks search for new chief executive officer

Sheep Central, October 2, 2018

MerinoLink chairman Rich Keniry, left, with Sally Martin, and directors Robert Mortimer, Matt Crozier, Steve Jarvis, Rachael Gawne and Craig Wilson.

INCREASING demands on leading grassroots research company MerinoLink has prompted a staffing restructure and search for a new chief executive officer.

Current MerinoLink CEO Sally Martin will step down in December this year to start the transition with the new chief executive officer.

MerinoLink Limited will retain its not-for-profit company structure, as instigated by a progressive group of ram and commercial breeders and service providers in 2012. It aims to promote networks, innovation, technology, genetic benchmarking and research to improve the production and profitability of Merinos around Australia.

Under Ms Martin’s guidance, MerinoLink has grown over the past six years to a membership of 200, of which 54 percent are commercial breeders.

MerinoLink chairman Richard Keniry said the growth, increasing membership and number of projects required the organisation’s structure to move with the changing demands.

“For MerinoLink to continue to grow and to future proof the organisation, the board in conjunction with Sally have conducted a review of the existing business operations to determine the required business model for the future.

“As a result of this review, the board and Sally identified the need to diversify the current resource base beyond individuals and ensure we have the right foundation for growth,’’ Mr Keniry said.

“In line with this, an agreed transition plan has been developed which will see MerinoLink go to market for a new CEO and Sally Martin to step down from the position in December 2018.’’

Ms Martin will continue her engagement with MerinoLink in the position of project manager and technical advisor, supporting the current and future MerinoLink projects and trials.

She said as the organisation has grown, the demands in terms of what is required have increased, so the restructure will involve creating positions to match the research and extension demands on the company. It also represents an opportunity to separate roles.

Restructure increase MerinoLink opportunities

Ms Martin said MerinoLink had developed to a level where it was highly valued by the industry.

“This success means a change in structure is required and the need to recruit a new CEO.

“With the increasing demands from our key projects it is important to bring other people into the organisation to continue to grow the business, and ensure we have a sustainable organisation into the future that does not revolve around one key individual,’’ she said.

Ms Martin said the restructure would also allow MerinoLink to look at new research and extension opportunities. The new CEO would initially work for three days a week, with this growing as new income streams were investigated.

“To be able to bring other people into the organisations I think will be fantastic in terms of the other perspectives and new insights.

“We are moving away from the organisation relying on one person and I want to see the organisation be sustainable in the long term,” she said.

“We are potentially going from one full-time equivalent to two (FTEs), but just splitting it over different positions.”

MerinoLink projects grow to $3.5 million value

MerinoLink has become a leading organisation in the sheep industry engaging with research and development corporations (AWI and MLA), the Sheep CRC, universities, government organisations and other production groups to facilitate R & D projects and trials valued at $3.5 million. It has encompassed several key projects including the MerinoLink/UNE DNA Stimulation Project, part funded by the MLA Donor Company and hosting one of the five sites of the AWI Merino Lifetime Productivity Project.

Mr Keniry paid tribute to Ms Martin for her tireless work to maintain the momentum and growth enjoyed by MerinoLink since its inception.

“I thank Sally for all her efforts and support, she works day and night on so many projects whilst managing the organisation, and without her contribution and dedication MerinoLink would not be where it is today” he said.

“Sally will continue to be involved in MerinoLink projects, providing project management and technical advice, as her professionalism, enthusiasm and dedication to projects is exceptional.’’

Ms Martin said the new CEO will need good industry networks, and good business and communication skills.


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