By Toni Somes, Grains Research and Development Corporation

Ask Gillian Meppem the single most critical ingredient for success and regardless of industry, her answer is the same: relationships.

So, it is fitting her role as Grains Research and Development Corporation’s senior regional manager – North revolves firmly around establishing and strengthening quality relationships with GRDC’s research partners, industry stakeholders and GRDC staff and regional panel members.


The experienced businesswoman started in the role in 2019, after two years working as the GRDC’s Business Support Leader for the Northern Region.

Gillian came to her latest position with a diverse resume. She is a director of the Polocrosse Association of Australia, has worked an 8000 hectare broadacre grain and livestock property, she’s also been a Western Queensland publican, an area manager for Namoi Cotton Co-operative and run her own café and catering business amongst other roles.

Through it all she has learnt and re-learnt the immeasurable value of effective relationships.

“Regardless of what industry you are in, or what your role is within your organisation, fostering good relationships is the key to personal job satisfaction and experiencing any sort of success for your organisation,” she said.

“If you can’t maintain quality relationships you limit your options, not to mention business or organisational opportunities.

“It is vital that GRDC collaborates and has effective relationships with stakeholders across not only the Australian grains industry but internationally and across all primary production sectors.”

Being self-employed in various capacities has also taught Gillian the importance of effective business management and understanding client needs, the value of staff empowerment and given her a firsthand understanding of the financial challenges of being ‘in business’.

“Learning on the job in business can sometimes be a tough way to grow but my work life, coupled with being raised on my family’s mixed farming operation in northern NSW, has given me a deep and genuine appreciation for the absolute ‘boots and all’
commitment of grain growers,” she said.

“Primary producers and small business owners succeed or fail on the daily decisions they undertake, and this knowledge makes me acutely aware of my responsibilities as a GRDC staff member when it comes to ensuring the research, development and extension we invest in delivers real gains in profitability at paddock level. We are all in this together, and I am keenly aware that collaboration is key to successful RD&E and that means ensuring there are effective relationships between the GRDC, growers, agronomists, industry stakeholders, research partners and others.”

In her role as GRDC senior regional manager – North, Gillian helps ensure the GRDC’s Northern Region office operates efficiently and effectively. A total of 16 GRDC staff are based at the Toowoomba office, located in Herries Street, and a further two at GRDC’s satellite office at Charles Sturt University, Wagga Wagga.

“I am enjoying being part of a focused, engaged and enthusiastic team in the Northern Region and together we are working hard to deliver paddock-ready solutions to constraints and embrace opportunities for development on behalf of our levy-paying grain growers,” Gillian said.

“To ensure a coordinated, efficient approach to GRDC RD&E investments, I also work closely with our very committed GRDC regional panels, as well as the GRDC staff based in Canberra and our southern and western offices.”

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