A quest for learning: Leo Delahunty

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The Annual General Meeting in October marked an opportunity to acknowledge and thank retiring Board member, Leo Delahunty.

In an invited address to the Board and staff members, Leo reflected on a career in farming, community and corporate service to the farming sector.

Leo said he felt his career could be divided into “ten-year timeframes” that often had the same themes of “Family, Sport and Community” based on collaboration, education and adaptability.

Setting the foundation

At 16, Leo started farming full-time with his father, Vincent, when the farming business at Murtoa primarily comprised of self-replacing merinos with some cropping.

His community involvement started in his twenties through sport and Apex. He married Bernadette, started their young family and his brother Andy also joined the farm in 1980.

His focus on improving the farm developed during this time with the regular question; “Is there a better way of doing things?” This curiosity contributed to the introduction of growing more barley instead of oats and chickpeas over pea crops.

Throughout his career, Leo “sought information through groups” including FM500 and the Victorian Farmers Federation which included Wimmera representation at meetings in Melbourne and chairing the government-formed ‘Mouse committee’. He joined the BCG Board in 2009.

People

Leo also reflected on learned lessons about working with people and in team environments. Some of his comments worth noting include:

“A judgement about a person shouldn’t be based so much on their background”.

“Don’t get caught up in group talk; make a personal judgement by looking at what people do”.

“Identify people who do good things and seek advice, trust them, pool their advice and act on it”.

Education and leadership

“Unless you’re living on the edge, you’re wasting space” Leo also told the group.

Pointing to eleven years as part of DIRT management as “a huge learning curve”, Leo was required to meet with potential investors to promote a farming business to potential investors.

He is always on a “quest for learning” and aimed to complete one or two courses every year for many years including governance. This assisted his farming duties but also his roles on the Pivot, Incitec Pivot and Graincorp boards and various community boards including GWM Water, Wimmera Racing and BCG.

Reinvention

“The definition of a farmer and their roles and responsibilities has changed with different opportunities on offer” Leo said.

As he now transitions towards retirement, Leo is asking the question “how do I reinvent myself for the next chapter?”

Leo and Bernadette have moved to Horsham and his brother Andy and sons John and Chris are now actively farming. He says the success of their farming business has been based on setting goals and timeframes and encouraging an ethos of an “individual focus in a team environment” where individuals are encouraged to pursue their personal interests and talents within a context of achieving an agreed, bigger goal.

We wish Leo and Bernadette all the best for the next chapters of their life together.

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