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How does a kid who dreamt of becoming a stockbroker end up leading the Australian division of a global conservation giant?
Rich Gilmore’s story of his rise to becoming a leader for conservation is perhaps not the typical one of a life time naturalist. After a change in direction from his previous career at the Sydney Futures Exchange, Rich found himself in Africa in 2005 on an Earthwatch fellowship he’d been awarded as part of his job in business development at Amcor Recycling. Standing in a Kenyan mangrove, ankle-deep in mud and surrounded by international scientists dedicated to saving the planet, it occurred to him that he wanted to make a positive difference too.
“I was a late starter to conservation,” Rich says, “but going to Kenya was literally a life-changing experience for me. I was struck by these capable, intelligent and articulate people. They could have done anything they wanted to do anywhere in the world but here they were in East Africa spending their time in the mud, solving problems for other people.”
Inspired by this, on his return to Australia, Rich commenced a degree in Environmental Management at the University of NSW and 18 months later joined Earthwatch Australia as director of operations and programs, quickly rising to CEO at the age of just 31.
In January, 2014, Rich brought his passion and enthusiasm for conservation to The Nature Conservancy as Director of the Australia Program. He’s really proud of the work of his team in finding big solutions to big environmental challenges like combating climate change at the same time as assisting Indigenous Australians to manage their northern tropical savannas, restoring the lost shellfish reefs of southern Australia, and our new work in planning for more sustainable cities, starting with Melbourne.
The work we have done over a number of years supporting the Martu people of the Western Desert manage their country for the protection of its environmental and cultural values is another example of the type of work that motivates Rich. “Being out on country in the middle of the Great Sandy Desert with Martu elders and rangers, and seeing and feeling their connection to it is a deeply moving experience,” says Rich. “Thanks to tremendous support from our partners, playing a part in conserving our country like this, is really quite a privilege”.
And those skills developed as a stockbroker have been put to good use too in developing our Murray-Darling Basin Balanced Water Fund, providing returns for the environment, agriculture and investors.
“I’m really lucky to be working in a position where I can lead a talented team to achieve significant, long-term outcomes of people and nature”.