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Alan Robson retires after impactful career in primary sector

in Corporate News
Author: AsureQuality
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Alan Robson, AsureQuality’s Group Service Manager for Food Processing is retiring after 24 years with the company. Throughout his career, Alan has made an impact right across the primary sector, not just in his work for AsureQuality. From his early involvement in plant breeding and agronomic programmes he moved on to Apple Fields, a start-up organisation and industry that rapidly grew into the southern hemisphere’s largest orcharding operation. His expertise played a vital role in developing this entirely new industry in Canterbury.

Alan's career journey then took a daring leap from horticulture into the healthcare sector, where he managed five different service areas as well as a team of haematological research scientists at Christchurch Hospital.

In 1999, Alan returned to the primary sector, joining Asure as Operations Manager where he played a significant role in transforming Asure's meat inspection service from a government department to a state-owned enterprise (SOE). In 2007, Asure merged with AgriQuality to become AsureQuality, and Alan continued to lead the Meat Services business. He later became Group Manager - Audit and Inspection, taking on executive responsibilities for managing horticulture, food, dairy, biosecurity, livestock, seed, and training services, alongside meat services. Alan was recognised for his adaptability and resilience, helping to ensure continuity and stability throughout a period of organisational change.

While Alan leaves AsureQuality having touched almost all parts of the organisation, his most memorable period is his contribution to the response to Mycoplasma bovis (M. bovis).  Alan was present at the pivotal government meeting that decided to eradicate the disease, a decision with far-reaching impact on New Zealand’s agriculture. “In a very short time it was necessary to build an entirely new business unit with close to 300 people at its peak to support this programme alongside MPI”. Alan takes great pride in the minimal number of active properties identified over the last 12 months and plans to keep a close eye on progress, even in retirement, hoping to witness the official eradication of M. bovis.

When asked what’s kept him at AsureQuality for 24 years, Alan emphasised the variety in his roles, and the meaningful work the organisation does. He notes that the legends of the AsureQuality business are the frontline staff – analysts in the laboratories, meat inspectors, auditors, farm technicians as well as the technical experts who back them up. Alan reflects that the most fulfilling aspect of his career has been nurturing young talent. Over his career, he employed and mentored over 30 management trainees, helping them carve their own career paths and become successful leaders.  

Outside of work, Alan also has a deep commitment to community service, with notable involvement in Special Olympics, including coaching basketball and leading the New Zealand team to three World Games. He is now Chairman of Special Olympics New Zealand.

As Alan takes a well-deserved break, he looks forward to future bike adventures and quality time with family. He also hopes to broaden his involvement in community initiatives that promote inclusivity, awareness, and a sense of belonging for all.

Alan’s significant contribution to AsureQuality and New Zealand’s food and primary industries sector has been acknowledged by relevant industry bodies, the AsureQuality Board of Directors, Executive Team, the meat services team as well as the wider organisation. His knowledge of the business and extensive experience will be greatly missed.