Alumni stories

Lisa Dwyer: Never Waste a Crisis

15 August 2019

The dairy and live export industries are two of the most turbulent and highly publicised industries in agriculture today, and Lisa Dwyer is leading the charge in both of them. Graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP) – Course 19, Lisa sees times of adversity as an opportunity to refocus, rebuild and map a positive future pathway for success.

“A crisis provides a catalyst for change. It forces an industry to unite, take responsibility and accept that change is needed. We should never waste a crisis.”

As a proud dairy-farmer and Non-Executive Director for both the Murray Goulburn Cooperative Co and Australian Livestock Export Corporation, Lisa knows first hand the challenges and opportunities for leadership within these often-vexed industries.

“I remain optimistic that, from a dairy perspective, the current challenges will provide the impetus to adopt more effective ways of navigating the right pathway forward.  It is very easy to sit on the sidelines and throw grenades.  It is much harder, but eminently more effective, to roll ones sleeves up and get involved in being a part of the solution.”

The last few years have seen the dairy industry suffer a loss of confidence with milk prices dropping and the implosion of Murray Goulburn, until that time, Australia’s largest milk processor. One of Lisa’s main projects at the moment is assisting the company through ongoing litigation, with a singular focus on achieving the best possible return for shareholders and unitholders.

“In my experience, I have observed the readiness of people to tear down, rather than rebuild because the former is much easier and initially, more emotionally satisfying than the latter.  The truth of course, is that lasting prosperity can only be achieved through hard work and decision making informed by careful, deliberate consideration.”

In her interest of working towards the achievement of superior livestock welfare outcomes, Lisa is not afraid to address industry challenges head on.

“From a live export perspective, we are presently operating within what I would describe as a crucible environment.  The need for leadership with conviction has never been more needed.”

Lisa’s role with the Australian Livestock Export Corporation, has her focusing her leadership energies on three very important areas: promoting good animal welfare; improving social outcomes and enhancing national advantage through positive diplomatic relationships. 

 “The trade has made a phenomenal positive difference in improving the welfare of animals around the globe.   The problem however, is that we currently don’t have a credible platform from which to shout this from.  Leadership with conviction is therefore essential in rebuilding that platform through accountability.”

Lisa is an extremely good advocate and leader for the livestock industry as a whole – taking on the major and highly-talked about issues with pride, passion and purpose.

 “Rather than take the easy and populist position of simply banning the live trade, we need to set our minds to how to fix it. By doing this, we really can be the global exemplar of animal exports, foster positive international diplomacy and grow jobs in rural Australia.”

Operating in these high-stakes environments, Lisa leans on her experiences, Alumni network and personal growth to determine an effective plan of attack.

“Not a week goes by that I don’t draw upon my ARLP experience. It left a profound, lasting legacy on me. The connections and friendships that I made along this journey are incredible. It’s important to recognise the value of genuine friendships and that’s one of the biggest things the ARLP has given me.”  

Lisa has developed her own sense of what leadership means through the power of these genuine friendships and recognising the value in other peoples’ opinions.

 “Leadership that demonstrates the preparedness for hard work and the willingness to make difficult decisions in only the interests of the people to whom it matters the most is why true leadership is important. You have to believe that what you’re doing is bigger than yourself. ”

“Leadership programs are a dime-in-a-dozen and most will give you a brief insight into some of the things that good leadership can deliver. But the ARLP is different because it is a completely immersive experience that hits you like a tonne of bricks and pushes you to the limit of your psychological and physiological abilities.”