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AuctionsPlus’s Anna Speer tackles COO role at AA Co

Jon Condon, May 22, 2018

THE Australian Agricultural Co this afternoon announced the appointment of AuctionsPlus chief executive Anna Speer as its new chief operating officer (pastoral).

Anna Speer

The company has also announced the appointment of a new chief financial officer, Nigel Simonsz, following the recent departure of Scott Prebble.

AA Co chief executive officer Hugh Killen said he was excited to welcome Nigel and Anna to AA Co’s leadership team and that each would bring skills and capabilities closely aligned to AACo’s strategic agenda.

“Nigel’s significant experience and combination of operations, management and financial skills will be of value to AA Co as we continue to progress our strategic agenda. We are committed to openness and accuracy in how we report on our business and financial performance,” Mr Killen said in a statement.

“He will be responsible for lifting our financial acumen and driving clear accountability for business performance, enhancing commercial decision-making through real time financial information, and improving the clarity and consistency of the information we capture. We’re delighted to have someone of Nigel’s calibre and experience join us at this critical time for our business.”

“Meanwhile Anna Speer brings learnings and expertise from one of agriculture’s most disruptive marketplaces, and I am confident in the strong leadership she will provide across key areas of AA Co’s supply chain,” Mr Killen said.

“She is a capable and trusted leader who has a track record of consistently delivering results throughout her career. She will be responsible for aligning AA Co’s integrated supply chain and investment in innovation to drive and extend our unique ability to produce the highest-quality beef at scale.”

In her new role, Ms Speer will be responsible for the strategic and operational leadership of pastoral operations, feedlots, southern processing and breeding to efficiently and sustainably deliver into AA Co’s brands and customer experience. The role will not include day-to-day pastoral operations management.

To some, the thirty-five year old’s appointment is likely to be regarded as somewhat ‘non-traditional’, but perhaps speaks about the new direction now being taken by AA Co.

Ms Speer has accumulated a unique skill set during her working career.

She has effectively and enthusiastically led AuctionsPlus, the national online livestock marketplace, for the past four half years, recording substantial growth and penetration into the Australian livestock supply chain over the period. AuctionsPlus today accounts for $830 million worth of livestock sales per annum.

Technology has played a strong part in Auctions Plus’s development. It’s a space that Ms Speer plays in with great ease, and as one of her core strengths and competencies, this will translate effectively in her new role.

“I’ll be sad to be leaving Auctions Plus, but after having a good discussion with AA Co senior management, talking about their vision for the company, I came away excited about the opportunities to do something amazing with an iconic Australian brand,” she told Beef Central this afternoon.

Prior to being appointed CEO of AuctionsPlus four years ago, Ms Speer worked for four years as general manager with Livestock Exchange, part of the ITSG group, building custom software with a traceability focus for the red meat supply chain, including on-farm, saleyard, and agency software systems.

Up to 2009, she spent five years working with Consolidated Pastoral Co, jillerooing on Auvergne and Newry, and herd recording for the stud herd on Newcastle Waters.

In between jobs with CPC, she took a year off to finish her Science degree, majoring in micro and molecular biology. She also completed an education degree remotely, while in the stock camps with CPC.

In an earlier interview with Beef Central, Ms Speer rated her biggest passions as problem-solving with good people to make better products and outcomes; and agriculture.

“I can’t see myself ever not working in ag,” she said.

Strong financial track record

AA Co’s appointment as chief financial officer, Nigel Simonsz, brings a strong track record of achievement in complex, listed environments across the FMCG industry.

Most recently, he served as national CFO for The Salvation Army, and prior to that was CEO for Australia and New Zealand for international FMCG firm, PZ Cussons. During his time with PZ Cussons, Nigel held a number of senior finance and executive leadership roles, and brings with him global experience across markets. He has also worked with General Mills and BHP during his career.

AA Co started its search for a new CFO in January, following the departure of acting CFO, Scott Prebble, who has taken up the same role with export processor, Teys Australia.

AuctionsPlus board chairman Mark Allison said the board thanked Anna Speer for her hard work and dedication during her tenure, and wished her all the best with her future endeavours.

“Anna will be working with the Board to ensure a smooth transition for the company and our customers. We will be conducting both an internal and external recruitment process over the coming weeks and feel that the role will be highly sought after,” Mr Allison said.

Ms Speer said she was grateful to have had the opportunity to work with AuctionsPlus, a leading organisation that continues to reshape the livestock sector and lead with best practise.

“The people I have worked with, both within the organisation and as customers are second to none. I have enjoyed the highs and lows and the positive and innovative attitude of the people in our industry. It was an extremely tough decision to make and I would like to thank the board for their support and guidance that has allowed me to grow and step into my next role.

“The AuctionsPlus business and team are set for ongoing growth and I will be watching closely from the sidelines.”

Mr Simonsz’ appointment will be effective from 1 August, while Ms Speer starts in her new role on 16 August.

Financials eagerly anticipated

The market is eagerly awaiting AA Co’s release tomorrow morning of the company’s 2017-18 financial year results. This follows a preliminary briefing in early April, when the company announced a review of its northern processing and brand operations, after a dramatic slide in earnings and profit.

Full report and analysis in Beef Central tomorrow.

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