Geoff Cornford at the ARCBA conference.

From jackeroo to NAPCO’s big boss

HE is now the Chief Operating Officer of one of Australia’s largest cattle companies but Geoff Cornford owes his rise from jackeroo to the corporate ladder to one “snap of the moment decision”.

The North Australian Pastoral Company (NAPCO) representative was the guest speaker at the Australian Registered Cattle Breeders Association Young Breed Leaders Workshop dinner in Brisbane last week and shared his development in the industry.

Mr Cornford grew up on a dairy farm but had ambitions to become an architect before later taking another u-turn and studying to be a vet at university.

It wasn’t until he took a year off from his studies to work at NAPCO that his true career path was chosen.

“I sent an application to Stanbroke, AACo and NAPCO and I thought if I go round and drop off the application I might have a better chance of getting the job,” he said.

“John Griffith, the previous managing director, was there and took my application and gave me a sandwich. I should have been impressed by that but because I’d never realised who it was so without even consideration I just took the first job I was offered and that was that.

Geoff Cornford (centre) with guests at the ARCBA Young Breed Leaders workshop.

“I haven’t planned my life particularly well and a lot of things have happened to me by chance.”

Twenty five years later and Mr Cornford hasn’t worked for anyone else, taking small opportunities along the way and moving into roles such as feedlot manager.

And while his company rise has seen him move further away from the jackeroo lifestyle he started in, his visits to meet with station managers double as a chance to get back in the yards.

“In my job now I get to work less with people that work with cattle and I have to work with people in accountancy or solicitors and the service industries who help us do our job,” he said.

“I’ve realised that a lot of people have a lot of crappy jobs. Quite frankly I can’t imagine a better job doing what we all do working in the beef cattle industry.

“When I think about a hierarchy of professions I’ve always considered that one of the noblest things we can do is provide beef for people, up there with being a doctor.

“Often we are challenged in our businesses but I ask you to remember how lucky we all are to work in the industry we do because I can’t imagine a better way of making a living.”