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About the 2020 speakers

  • Jacqueline Wilson-Smith: Global Strategist at Sustainable Innovation Company

    Queensland’s AgFuture: purposeful together

    Drought. Fire. Pandemic. Geopolitical barriers. How does Queensland play a meaningful part solving the systemic and rising problems in agri-food and fibre industries, locally and globally?

    Shared challenges are being discussed around the globe: risky, long supply chains; rising costs and trade barriers; food safety and biosecurity concerns; and mounting sovereign worries with many countries on a quest towards self-sufficiency and governments holding out hope that agri-food will play a vital key role in economic recovery. Queensland is not alone.  

    Sustainable solutions to these wicked problems will need individuals, organisations, and governments to ‘collaborate with purpose’, effectively innovating networks that together will overcome these shared and systemic challenges.

    The future will see global shifts from exporting products to selling sophisticated, digitally enabled systems of food production to alleviate the need for long, risky supply chains and respond to food safety, food security demands offering pathways towards self-sufficiency for countries across the globe in these uncertain times. Queensland’s agri-food industry has a purposeful part to play together in what the world needs right now.

    About Jacqueline

    Jacqueline (Jac) has been driving strategy, innovation, and sustainable transformations in since 1995 when she switched from being an EY accountant into a design-led innovator holding global roles with McCormick, Gourmet Garden, Mondelez, Constellation & Hardy Wine Company. In 2019, Jac founded the Sustainable Innovation Company on a mission to catalyse impactful innovation and radical change in a VUCA world. Jac works glovally (global, local, and virtual) and aspires to be known as a pioneer of collaborative leadership, capable of mobilising people, teams, communities, and organisations to create better & radically change for good together.

    In addition, Jac is Co-Founder and past immediate Chair of Food Agribusiness Network (FAN) and a Non-Executive Director and Advisor on a number of boards, panels, and committees including Food Agility, Traveller's Choice, Agrifutures’ Rural Women's Award Alumni, Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation’s Circularity Group and QLD's Manufacturing Ministerial Committee. In 2017 Jac was the QLD AgriFutures’ Rural Women’s Award recipient.


  • Fabian Carniel: CEO Mulgowie Farming Company

    Growing and thriving together in the new ag normal

    The COVID-19 pandemic has created an opportunity like no other by shining a spotlight on the legendary traditions of innovation and resourcefulness within Australian agriculture.

    While the COVID complications of workforce safety, operational continuity and market volatility have added to the entrenched challenges of pests, weather events and drought, Mulgowie Farming Company has pioneered an innovative risk-based approach to mitigating the complex health and business threats created by the novel coronavirus.

    Mulgowie’s proactive, effective response to COVID-19 and the lessons learned so far have been willingly shared with industry, government and community partners to help minimise the impacts of the unfolding crisis across the sector.

    CEO Fabian Carniel believes this collaborative and connected approach is a key ingredient in cultivating the new ‘ag normal’.

    By combining the spirit and ingenuity of Australia’s farming communities with innovation and cooperation, Queensland agriculture can evolve as a resilient, sustainable, prosperous industry for future farming generations.

    About Fabian

    Growing up on his parents’ orchard at Stanthorpe taught Fabian Carniel the value of a strong work ethic. Now, he has more than 30 years’ experience in the Australian fresh produce industry.

    Appointed CEO of Mulgowie Farming Company in 2009, Fabian strives to lead by example and with integrity and performs a key role inspiring the Mulgowie team to consistently deliver quality, fresh and nutritious products through innovation and sustainable farming practices.

    Fabian has been a Director of the Produce Marketing Association and a Director and Trading Executive within the Australian fresh produce export industry.  As well as cultivating a broad network of collaborative relationships across industry, government, growers, customers and community groups, Fabian is passionate about the advancement of Australian agriculture and innovation to meet future consumer demands.

    Mulgowie Farming Company is a recognised leader in growing, packing, distributing and marketing fresh vegetables. With more than 5000 hectares in production across Australia, Mulgowie is a sustainable, Australian owned and operated business with more than 500 employees and 75 years’ experience.


  • Dr Sarah Pearson: Deputy Director-General, Innovation, Department of Innovation and Tourism Industry Development

    The Future is here - Thriving in an age of disruption

    We live in a disrupted time in an age of digital disruption. The COVID pandemic is affecting our supply chains and resource availability. Global demand for clean food is rising. Breakthrough technology is providing solutions to resource scarcity, whilst also disrupting the very essence of food and agriculture. This presents opportunities as well as threats. What does this look like and how can the agriculture and food sector adapt?

    About Sarah

    Sarah has a wealth of experience from varying roles and positions including Global Head of Open Innovation at Cadbury, Member of Main Sequence Ventures’ Investment Committee, Director on the Board of the Global Innovation Fund, member of Questacon’s Advisory Council, founding CEO of the Canberra Innovation Network, Australia’s Innovation Champion in MIKTA, and most recently, Chief Innovation Officer and Chief Scientist at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

    Sarah has had a significant impact on innovation ecosystems in Australia and overseas, and led DFAT to build startup ecosystems, empower entrepreneurs in the Indo-Pacific, encourage women in STEM, and engage in economic and commercial diplomacy based on innovation globally.

    Along with her impressive resume, Sarah was also awarded a PhD in particle physics from the University of Oxford, and held a tenured academic position in Australia as a physics lecturer. She has published research in the areas of particle physics medical physics, artificial intelligence, innovation, science communication and science policy, and is an author on eight patents covering cancer diagnosis and confectionery.

    Sarah describes her career as ‘eclectic’, having specialised in innovation and entrepreneurship, scientific research, strategy, and managing change. She is passionate about leveraging innovation to increase impact. Her priority is ensuring Queensland puts innovation at the top of its agenda.

    “The main attraction for taking on the Deputy Director-General role was the holistic approach that Advance Queensland takes, covering all stakeholders from startups to corporates, to SMEs and government. The inclusion of diversity through programs for Indigenous and female founders is impressive, as is coverage of social innovation. And the challenge of connecting and growing regional jobs through innovation is incredibly exciting” Sarah said.

    When asked about what advice she would give to others looking to innovate, Sarah said to think about impact. “I have a very broad definition of innovation; it has to be ideas that are applied to create impact,” Sarah said. “Those ideas could be totally new or old ones applied in a different way. The important thing is creating impact.”