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Top 100 : 2009
TOP 100 AUSTRALIA’S MOST INFLUENTIAL ENGINEERS – COVER STORY Douglas Rathbone, 63 Managing Director, Nufarm, Melbourne Chemical engineer, Melbourne University previous year. Last year, the company acquired Lefroy Seeds, a Toowoomba-based company specialising in hybrid D breeding and commercialisation activities in sunfl ower and sorghum. Th e acquisition is part of its strategy to provide healthier vegetable oils such as high oleic canola and sunfl ower oils. Globally, the credit crisis has aff ected crop protection as farmers in some developing regions such as South America have found it more diffi cult to secure purchases for their crops and have deferred their buying commitments. Rathbone said the company is expanding its business by developing new products in diff erent crop segments and geographic markets. One of its new areas of focus is seed treatment which involves the coating of higher value seeds such as those that are genetically modifi ed, thus protecting the seed in the soil. Christopher Roberts, 55 President and CEO, Cochlear, Sydney Chemical engineer, University of NSW C hristopher Roberts is president and CEO of Cochlear, a company with about 1800 staff in 21 countries. In the 2008 financial Mark Reuss, 45 Chair and Managing Director, GM Holden, Melbourne Mechanical engineer, Vanderbilt University, US M ark Reuss is the chair and managing director of GM Holden, one of Australia’s largest automotive companies. Th e company’s Commodore sedan remained the best selling car in Australia in 2008. In total, GM Holden sold 130,338 vehicles in Australia last year. To manage the falling demand for cars, particularly for large ones, the company has moved to a single shift , two-crew operation at its vehicle production plant in Elizabeth, South Australia. Th e new production level is about 310 cars per day. One of the highlights for the company this year was the launch of the Holden Cruze. Unveiled at the 2009 Melbourne International Motor Show earlier this year, this small car is scheduled to go on sale this month. With the development homeroom based in Europe and work for some variants taking place in South Korea, the car is part of the US parent General Motors’ new portfolio of global products. Th e company’s motor show presentation also provided a glimpse of its Volt electric vehicle. Scheduled for launch in Australia in 2012, the car is designed to travel up to 64km on electricity before resorting to a petrol engine. Th e vehicle can be charged in less than three hours on a standard 240V power outlet. year, the company’s total revenue increased 8% from the previous year to a record $601.7 million. It sold a record 18,228 cochlear implants. Despite the global eco- nomic downturn, Roberts suggested the need for Cochlear hearing devices would remain strong. “Babies born deaf need a cochlear implant regardless of the economic cycle, similarly for adults who go deaf. Th e need is independent of the economic circumstances,” he said. An innovation developed in the past year is the release of Cus- tom Sound 2.0 programming soft ware. Th is technology allows recipients of the hearing devices easier access to preprocessing of the sound, including multiple preprocessing strategies working in combination. Th e company recently showcased its new Baha BP100 product at a major conference in Europe. Th is is a hearing device that uses direct bone conduction, to allow the bone to transfer sound to a functioning cochlea. Th is route bypasses the ear canal and middle ear. Th e product combines a sound processor with an abutment and a small titanium implant. Th e implant is placed behind the non-functioning ear. For his last holiday, Roberts went to Lake Conjola, on the NSW South Coast. ENGINEERS AUSTRALIA JUNE 2009 ENGINEERS AUSTRALIA | | 45 ouglas Rathbone is the managing director of Nufarm in charge of more than 3000 staff . Th e company had a revenue of $2.4 billion in the 2007/08 fi nancial year. Th e result was an increase of 36% from the