Beef Australia’s Graeme Acton Beef Connections Program welcomes esteemed mentors

Published 01 August 2023

Beef Australia is thrilled to announce the participation of respected industry leaders as mentors in its highly competitive 2023 2024 Graeme Acton Beef Connections Program.

At its core, the Graeme Acton Beef Connections Program provides a unique mentoring experience for participants that supports the link between leadership theory and practice.

Beef Australia CEO Simon Irwin said the Program aims to foster growth and development within the sector by pairing emerging talents with experienced mentors who have achieved remarkable success in their careers.

“The Beef Connections Program was created in 2015 by the then Next Gen Committee to empower the next generation of beef industry leaders, providing them with invaluable guidance and insights from seasoned experts”, Mr Irwin said.

“Through mentorship, participants gain access to a wealth of knowledge, networking opportunities, personal growth and of course a deeper understanding of the beef industry.

“One such distinguished mentor is Mr. Anthony Lee, Chief Executive Officer of Australian Country Choice, a prominent figure in the Australian beef industry.

“Anthony’s vast knowledge and experience in the beef industry makes him an ideal mentor for aspiring professionals seeking to make their mark in this competitive field.

“We are incredibly grateful to all the mentors who have generously offered their time and expertise to support emerging talent.

“Their involvement demonstrates the unity and strength of the Australian beef community, and we are confident that these mentorship relationships will create a positive impact on our participants’ professional growth.

“On behalf of Beef Australia, I would like to welcome the following mentors into the 2023 2024 Program:

  • Richard Rains, Director and Immediate past Chair of The Zanda McDonald Award (Sydney, New South Wales), mentoring Lauren Angus
  • Sam Noon, Director of SJN Rural (Queensland), mentoring Phoebe Eckermann
  • Georgie Somerset AM, President of AgForce Queensland, Deputy Chair of The Royal Flying Doctor Service (Qld Section), ABC and Chair of the Red Earth Foundation (Durong, Queensland), mentoring Isobel Heffernan
  • Jo Palmer, Founder and Managing Director of Pointer Remote (Singapore, Singapore), mentoring Jean Liebenberg
  • Anthony Lee, Chief Executive Officer of Australian Country Choice (Brisbane, Queensland), mentoring Xavier McCluskey
  • Rebecca Arnott, Product Manager, Farm Animals (ANZ), Vetoquinol Australia (Brisbane, Queensland), mentoring Emily McNair
  • Tammy Kruckow, Leadership Consultant and Coach, Tammy Kruckow Coaching (Miriwinni, Queensland), mentoring Liam Cameron
  • Prue Bondfield, Directorships with Regional Investment Corporation, Bush Heritage Australia, Black Box Co. and Livecorp (Palgrove, Queensland), mentoring Amy Wicks
  • Georgie Aley, National Sector Lead, CPG & Agribusiness and National Operational Transformation Lead for KPMG Australia (Sydney, New South Wales), mentoring Georgia Dale
  • Aaron Kiely, Director and Vice President of Queensland Farmers Federation (Emerald, Queensland), mentoring Lachlan Smith

When asked about his involvement in the program, Australian Country Choice Chief Executive Officer Anthony Lee expressed his excitement and passion for nurturing young talent in the beef industry.

“I am honoured to be a part of the program and contribute to the growth of our industry’s future leaders”, Mr Lee said.

“Mentoring young professionals allows us to share our experiences, challenges, and successes, giving them a solid foundation to build upon.

“The beef sector is dynamic and continually evolving so I look forward to working with my mentee, Xavier McCluskey, as we exchange ideas, innovations, leadership learnings and industry best practices”.

Program Mentee Xavier McCluskey said he’s extremely excited to have Mr Anthony Lee as his mentor.

“I can’t wait to learn from his industry experience and see how he approaches problem-solving”, Mr McCluskey said.

“We have a shared passion for educating students and the importance that food and fibre is taught in our classrooms”.

The Graeme Acton Beef Connections Program officially commenced in May 2023, and will conclude in May 2024 at Beef Australia 2024.

For more information about Beef Connections and Beef Australia, please visit

The Graeme Acton Beef Connections Program is an initiative of Beef Australia, in memory of the late Graeme Acton.

As one of Queensland’s leading beef industry figures, Graeme was renowned for supporting young people in entering the agriculture sector and generously donated his time and extensive knowledge to supporting the younger agricultural generation. Graeme also donated his time and expertise to Beef Australia as a board member and Chairman.

Since its inception in 2015, the Graeme Acton Beef Connections Program has been supported by Westpac.


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