Doug has been Bush Heritage CEO for 14 years, from 1997 to 2011.
In August 1997 I arrived at Hobart airport, to begin my role as Bush Heritage's first full-time CEO. I was equipped with my bike, a change of clothes, and a load of enthusiasm. It was the first of fourteen years of the tremendous adventure, challenge and opportunity that is Bush Heritage Australia.
Some things were very different then. I spent my first month in Hobart without my family and so on my 40th birthday I was delighted to receive birthday wishes from my children. They came via a fax machine, one which could have housed a small family!
Interstate travel in the late 90s was also not as sophisticated as it is today – one morning I sat on the plane at Hobart airport until the sun rose because the pilot wasn't credited to fly in the dark!
Bush Heritage has come a long way since I watched the sunrise touching the clouds on Mt Wellington that morning. Back then we were a handful of passionate conservationists with scant resources and big ideas. We owned six reserves covering several thousand hectares and our work was funded by a few visionary supporters.
Now, we are a team of more than 70 staff, with more than 947 000 hectares and 34 reserves under our management. We have thousands of committed supporters and an operating budget of more than $10 million.
Some things have changed, yet others have stayed the same. I will still arrive at work on my last day as CEO, with my bike, a change of clothes and a load of enthusiasm for an organisation I respect immensely. In 1997, I believed that protecting the Australian bush through the tools of Bush Heritage was an achievable and essential goal. And in 2011, thanks to your support, that has been proven.
And although I haven't waited ‘til sunrise for my plane to take off in a long time, I still look out over the landscapes that form the Australian bush and treasure the view. Our properties, partnerships and supporters now span the length and breadth of Australia.
I am confident that Bush Heritage is well positioned to meet the considerable challenges it faces, even as the global financial situation remains unpredictable.
I am also confident that the board has made an excellent choice in appointing Gerard O'Neill as your new CEO. I have known Gerard for over 20 years and as a mutual acquaintance recently said to me, "he will keep the faith".
I have written regularly of my affection for Bush Heritage: my admiration for you, our supporters and how proud I am of Bush Heritage's achievements.
Thank you also to my family, friends and the many of you who have supported me on my personal and professional journey. Good wishes and good bye until I see you next.
Doug Humann, CEO