Talk to Irrigation Tasmania’s General Manager, Wayne Symes, and you’ll notice a lot of pride in his voice.
He’s a proud Tasmanian, he’s proud of his staff and he’s proud to be in an industry where innovative technology and dedicated people are contributing to the state’s agricultural success.
As GM, Wayne is responsible for making sure all six branches of the business are meeting the expectations of customers and industries throughout the state.
Tasmania’s fertile lands are able to produce such a diversity of foods – from cherries and potatoes to meat and dairy, seafood and wine – but their access to reliable and efficient water can be the crucial factor in the success of their crops and herds.
It’s why Wayne invests so heavily in his employees.
“It’s obviously important that I manage the financials and look at opportunities to grow the business, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned over 20-odd years in management it’s that it’s a people’s game,” he says.
Identifying people’s strengths and enhancing them with the right support and development is what has built Irrigation Tasmania’s strong team. Bring out the best in your people, believes Wayne, and they’ll provide the customer with a good, reliable, service that keeps them coming back.
Wayne grew up on the state’s North West coast and says agriculture has been part of his life since he was ‘big enough to pick up a hay bale’.
He married into a farming family so knows first-hand how important it can be to have all hands on deck at peak times of the season.
“Working with people like my father-in-law you really come to understand the importance of land management and making sure that when they need water, they can get it,” says Wayne.
“A lost day on a high yield crop can be devastating so our customers need to know that we will be there for them around the clock, 24/7.”
Wayne spent the first 20 years of his career in mining and his roles with Atlas Copco and Caterpillar, took him all over Australia, and overseas.
He appreciates the many opportunities he was given to grow his knowledge, including study at the Stockholm School of Economics in Sweden, and likes to encourage his own staff to grow the skills they need to excel in their roles, whether it be as a technician, sales staff or managers.
Despite enjoying the companies he worked for, the travel and long hours needed for the job took Wayne away from his family, so in early 2018, he returned to Tasmania to be closer to family and begin his role with Irrigation Tasmania.
Wayne says joining Irrigation Tasmania was the best decision for him and his family. He believes it’s an exciting time to be a part of the industry with so much new technology bringing greater water and labour efficiencies to the sector.
The struggles of drought-affected communities on mainland Australia have made Wayne appreciate the Tasmanian government’s investments in water schemes that have resulted in previously barren parts of the state becoming productive and profitable.
“The percentage of Australia’s water that we hold here in Tasmania puts us in a unique position,” says Wayne.
“I’m very excited about Irrigation Tasmania’s future. We’re well placed to provide the efficient use of water through the state and help Australia, and our exports, with the good quality produce we’re all very proud of here in Tassie.”