This year’s Kerferd Oration is to be delivered by Barry Irvin AM, the Executive Chairman of Bega Cheese.
Barry Irvin has extensive experience in the dairy industry and has been Chairman of Bega Cheese since 2000. Under his leadership Bega Cheese has grown from a small regionally based dairy company to one of the largest dairy companies in Australia, supplying a large range of dairy products in Australia and around the world.
Barry is also Chairman of Giant Steps, which supports children and families dealing with the challenges of autism, and is a Director of the Gardiner Foundation, which funds leadership programs, study tours, scholarships and in the disciplines of dairy production and marketing, and farm business management.
“I have always believed in giving back, giving a hand up, helping those in need, ” Mr Irvin said.
“In my life I have great demonstrations of that, as people have been so generous to me; at first they wanted to help me with my autistic son Matthew and later help in developing and growing Giant Steps.
“The strength and wisdom of the collective has been demonstrated to me over and over again in both my business and charitable activities.”
Barry’s depth of knowledge of the industry includes a significant understanding of the issues affecting Australian dairy farmers, the key investments required to meet changing consumer needs and the management of long-term customer relationships.
“I think having a vision for an organisation and ensuring you share that vision with all those who will help you realise your dreams is extremely important,” Mr Irvin said.
“Our suppliers, our staff, our shareholders and our community have been supportive through the many changes at Bega Cheese. It is their support that we must always remember and acknowledge as we think about each action and each step the company takes.”
Mr Irvin masterminded the $460 million buy-back of iconic brands Vegemite and Bonox from their foreign owners, as well as the rights to use the famous Kraft brand on its Australian made products.
Many organisations have recognised Mr Irvin’s industry knowledge, inspirational leadership and energetic support of charitable foundations.
Mr Irvin was awarded the NAB Agribusiness Leader of the Year in 2009 and the Rabobank Agribusiness Leadership Award for 2011. In 2008 he was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for contributions to children with disability and the Australian dairy industry.
The George Briscoe Kerferd Oration was first held in 2003 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the naming of Beechworth. The Oration is part of the Public Lecture Series of La Trobe University. The annual Oration is a free community event sponsored by Indigo Shire Council, La Trobe University, WAW Credit Union and Beechworth Neighbourhood Centre. The Oration will be held at the Kerferd Conference Centre, Mayday Hills, on Sunday 23 July starting at 11am, doors open at 10.15.