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Aug 2, 2021

Dr Wendy Craik AM is often described as a woman of many firsts - the first female head of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the first woman to lead the National Farmers' Federation and the first woman Chief Executive of the Murray Darling Basin Commission.  So how does someone who started out with a science degree and PhD in zoology wind up on the board of the Reserve Bank of Australia?

An independent public policy advisor, particularly on issues related to natural resource management, Wendy has over 25 years' experience in public policy.  In this podcast Wendy talks to Claire about her long and interesting career, which has spanned much of our continent and concentrated around natural resource management. It’s a career which has seen Wendy move from documenting fish and coral off Far North Queensland in the 70s and 80s to more recently counting fire ants across the country and crunching numbers in corporate boardrooms.

It was while working at the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority that Wendy made the switch from research to organisational management, before moving to the National Farmers Federation. It was, she says, a big switch moving from fish to farming and despite having no farming experience describes the jump as the best career move she ever made and one which allowed her to travel around Australia speaking to farmers.

This exciting time, not without its challenges, saw environmental issues and climate change coming on to the agenda, as well as issues around native title, the sale of Telstra, the introduction of GST and water politics. 

Now Wendy is chairing a national Steering Committee overseeing a 10-year program to eradicate imported fire ants. And never one to turn down a meaty challenge, in 2018 she embraced the opportunity to join the RBA board. While she admits it has been a steep learning curve, Wendy tells Claire it has been a fascinating journey.

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