From our new CEO – Stephen Bartos

March 26, 2024

I was honoured and delighted when I found out the Board had selected me to be the Crawford Fund CEO. 

I applied for the position because I believe the work of the Fund is important – promoting Australian agricultural research expertise to assist developing countries become more productive and sustainable. 

As a Board member said at the last meeting, it’s about how to feed the world without destroying the planet. It constitutes one of humanity’s most pressing challenges today. 

Australia is well placed to share our highly respected agricultural research to help address this challenge. And, as Doing Well by Doing Good shows, this benefits us as well as other countries.

In short, the Crawford Fund provides meaning and purpose – why it is an attractive organisation to work for.

Hear from Stephen below:

My own background is something of a departure from past chief executives – I worked for most of my career as a senior public servant in the Australian government, and since then mostly as a consultant working in agricultural economics – although I was recently appointed part time as a Professor at the University of Canberra, teaching and researching in economics and public finance. 

It is not a traditional research scientist background – but I take heart from the fact that Sir John Crawford was himself a distinguished agricultural economist and senior public servant.

For many years I worked in the Finance department advising Ministers on the agriculture portfolio.  It had several different names – probably the name that lasted longest at the time was Primary Industries and Energy.  Among my achievements were advising Ministers on how to end the failing wool floor price scheme, setting up the Australian Fisheries Management Authority and supervising the finances of the brucellosis and tuberculosis eradication campaign.

In consulting, among various assignments, I reviewed the research functions of the NSW Department of Primary Industries, conducted a governance review and restructure of Horticulture Australia, a research report on pricing in the dairy industry, and a study of the impact of climate change on food supply chains.

I have spent my first week with the Fund in handover with Dr. Colin Chartres, the previous CEO, who is leaving us after a distinguished term in office to enjoy a well-deserved retirement.  I have been finding out about the diverse parts of the Crawford Fund, from the State and Territory committees and their training programs, through to our annual conference and other public awareness activities, our masterclasses, our special activities for early to mid-career researchers, and many other projects. All of them play an invaluable role in delivering our mission. 

I won’t be aiming to change any of these things that we do so well – but hope to add to them increased engagement with politicians and senior public servants, with the aim of finding supporters to promote and enhance our work.

I’m looking forward to working with everyone associated with the Crawford Fund.