Leadership Team

Richard Simonaitis

Rich square 2023
Chief Executive Officer ​

Based in Perth, Richard brings a breadth and depth of industry experience to the role of Grains Australia CEO, having worked in senior management roles in the grains industry and in export-commodity industries. 

Most recently, Richard led the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) to significant accomplishments including research to support the commercialisation of new oat rice and noodle products, developing soft and cookie wheat supply chains, and delivering valuable business insights into the future outlook for Australian grain.

Ian Rathbone

Chief Financial Officer

Based in Perth, Ian was appointed as Chief Financial Officer for Grains Australia in November 2023. Ian has over 20 years’ experience in senior finance roles primarily in Science and Technology, Research and Development, Agribusiness, and Industry Good Organisations.

Ian is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a member of CPA Australia, holds a Bachelor of Science and Master of Commerce from the University of New South Wales, and has recently achieved an MBA with distinction with the University of Western Australia.

Jennifer Hindmarsh

Company Secretary

Based in Sydney, Jennifer was appointed as Company Secretary for Grains Australia in October 2020. Jennifer worked for Wheat Quality Australia as Company Secretary and Business Manager. Prior to working for GA and WQA, Jennifer has held roles within the United Nations, Sydney Water and the Australian Meat Livestock Corporation (AMLC).

It was at the AMLC where she developed her interest in agri-business and has continued to expand and elaborate on this interest in Australian rural industries. Jennifer holds Bachelor of Arts in Modern Languages (Japanese), with a sub-major in Administration, from Canberra University as well a Diploma of Management and Certificate III in Accounting.

Natalie Lee

General Manager
Strategy and Communication

Based in Western Australia, Natalie brings extensive strategic communications experience to Grains Australia and has specialised in the agricultural sector and grains industry for about 25 years.

Spending the first years of her career as a journalist with the then West Australian Newspapers Holding Limited, Natalie has subsequently held positions with Cox Inall Communications, the Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC) and, most recently, the Grower Group Alliance.

With her husband, she is a partner in her family’s mixed broadacre farming business in Western Australia’s Upper Great Southern region.

John Ackerman

General Manager
Trade and Market Access

Based in Melbourne, John joined Grains Australia as General Manager Trade and Market Access in February 2022.

He has approximately 30 years of experience in the agriculture sector, focused on all aspects, including research, policy development, and industry representation, covering domestic and international elements, including trade and market access matters.

John spent 16 years prior to joining Grains Australia based in Indonesia, from 2016 as a founding Director of PT Mitra Asia Lestari, a company focused on producing sound research, sustainable business development, and increasing leadership capacity within Southeast Asia’s agriculture and fisheries sectors. In 2011-2015 he was regional manager Meat and Livestock Australia’s Indonesia office, and 2006-2011 headed up the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry office within the Australian Embassy in Indonesia.

John has a background in marine biology and ecology, obtaining his PhD in 2004 from James Cook University. He is a recipient of an Australian Day Achievement Award for his work overseas and sat on the Boards of the International Business Chamber in Indonesia and the Indonesia Australia Business Council.

Megan Sheehy

General Manager

Based in Adelaide, Megan joined Grains Australia as General Manager Classification in February 2022.

She has over 20 years’ experience in the barley, malting & brewing industries, including being Executive Chair of Barley Australia at the time of her appointment to Grains Australia.

Dr Sheehy is a Fellow of the Institute of Brewing and Distilling (IBD) and a former Director and Chairperson for the Board of Management for the IBD’s Asia Pacific Section. Megan holds a PhD from the University of New South Wales, specialising in microbiology, and has held various operational and technical roles at Lion and Joe White Maltings.

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