5 minutes with Hort Innovation’s Relationship Manager, John Vatikiotis

John, tell us a bit about yourself (including previous nursery industry experience)

I joined Hort Innovation as the Relationship Manager Lead for the nursery, turf and mushroom industries just over two years ago. Prior to this, I was with IBM for more than a decade, where I held several management and business development roles.

While I’m fairly new to the horticultural sector, the skills I gained from previous roles – such as stakeholder engagement and relationship management – most certainly apply to the work we do at Hort Innovation.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning more about, and working with, the people and businesses driving the nursery industry forward.

What does your role as Relationship Manager involve?

My number one responsibility is connecting levy payers to Hort Innovation and vice versa.

I am the first point of contact for growers on all things nursery levy related such as providing information on how funds are being invested and letting growers know how they can have their say on future projects.

A vital part of my role is keeping the lines of communication open between levy payers and Hort Innovation and to assist with any membership or investment enquiries that growers may have. And no two days are ever the same! My day might involve speaking with levy payers about how R&D or marketing outcomes can benefit their business right through to communicating the latest news from growers back to our team at Hort Innovation.

Another big part of my role is ensuring the Strategic Industry Advisory Panel (SIAP) runs smoothly and that the SIAP meeting outcomes and actions are progressed post-meeting.

What is the most common feedback you receive from growers?

We often receive feedback on the importance of ongoing communication. It’s vital that industry is well informed about the role and work of the SIAP and, more broadly, the strategic levy investments underway. Above all, it’s about maximising levy investment and communicating that return on investment to levy payers.

What are the key opportunities for the nursery industry?

It’s an exciting time for nursery levy funded projects, with a diverse range of R&D and marketing projects delivering positive outcomes for industry. From reviewing a national tree standard, to professional development programs to biosecurity preparedness – there’s plenty happening.

In addition, the nursery industry’s marketing initiative, 202020 Vision and, more recently, Plant Life Balance (used under by Hort Innovation under trademark from NGIA), is helping to boost demand for green life and secure a stronger, more sustainable future for the industry.

Why should – and how can – growers get in touch with you to discuss levy investments?

Just give me a call or send an email. We’re here to help you have all the information you need to know about the nursery levy or to point you in the right direction.

I can be reached on 0429 022 637 or [email protected]

And lastly, what are two fun facts that most people wouldn’t know about you? 

  1. I was a DJ in my early years, not professional – but nearly!
  2. I am a Paramatta Eels supporter, patiently waiting for a Grand Final.