Meet an industry development officer.
Kathleen Heuvel—Flower Association of Qld Inc.
I began my career with an Applied Science degree in Plant Studies at the University of Queensland. During my studies I completed an industry placement at Redlands Research Station, which provided a hands-on introduction to horticulture and helped to confirm that it was the area I wanted to work in for my career. This led to my current position as Industry Development Officer, Water and Energy, for the association that represents the Queensland flower industry, FAQI. My experiences have shown me that relevant, practical training and formal qualifications are absolutely central to establishing a professional career. They are a universal currency for securing jobs and demonstrating commitment to a particular field of work.
My job primarily involves engaging with the members of the industry to provide them with support and to encourage the use of sustainable and profitable practices. It allows me to get out of the office and meet growers on their farms, and to talk one-on-one about issues related to their irrigation systems and energy management. I conduct assessments of their equipment, help identify ways to improve efficiency, and organise workshops, seminars and training sessions to bring people in the industry together to network and share information. I also act as a conduit of information between researchers or association staff and the growers on the ground, making sure that they stay up-to-date on knowledge that could influence and benefit their businesses. Being able to talk to interesting people on a daily basis and help them solve their problems is challenging yet highly rewarding, and also provides lots of variety to keep my job fresh and exciting.
Industry development activities are essential for any industry, including the flower industry. Beyond the growing and selling of the flowers themselves, we have to make sure that information, services, research outcomes and education are constantly being communicated and improved. This is what makes for a strong industry, and one that will continue to provide quality flower and foliage products long into the future.