Nick Spencer Photo

Name: Nicholas Spencer

Job title: CEO

Company: IBIS Rice Conservation Co

What was your first job? If you don’t count paper rounds it was lining concrete gutters with aluminum and working in a skate shop. I started both at the same time when I was 16 – lining gutters and gripping skateboards are both quite therapeutic.

What’s been your worst job interview? A door-to-door sales job where the interview was based on knocking first door – realised I hated it and just apologised to the homeowner and told the guy with me ‘I can’t do this’.

What was the first music single you bought? I have some vague memories of buying something in Woolworths, but before this I remember getting a Walkman with a Whitney Houston tape with it for my birthday.

But I clearly remember buying Killing in the Name by Rage Against The Machine when I was eight and my older brother and sister being very annoyed because I was encroaching on their territory.

“I grew up watching The Really Wild Show and admire Chris Packham’s ability to be a punk, an activist and such an accomplished TV presenter. Having him as brand ambassador for Ibis Rice is a dream come true”

How do you describe your job to your mates? I can easily bore people with what I do, so I say I work with famers that live in wildlife sanctuaries in Cambodia – sometimes that then turns into a two-hour conversation.

What is the most rewarding part of your job? I’ve been here for nine years and we currently work with 2,000 farming families living in unique forest habitats – the better we do as a business, the better the outcome for farmers and forests.

I get to engage at every stage from soil health and climate resilience at farm-level to final pack and marketing. Connecting consumers so directly to these impacts is amazing – I have the best job in the world. It’s harvest right now and we are paying farmers 70% premiums for their conservation efforts – best time of the year.

What is the least rewarding part? Everything has to come together exactly right each year, financing, audits, etc for us to meet our commitments to farmers. When things get tight the pressure can be pretty intense, so many farmers’ incomes are at stake.

We’ve seen real success, but forest and critically endangered species are still at extreme risk from external pressure. This can be daunting.

What is your motto in life? We’ll get there.

If you were allowed one dream perk, what would it be? A snowy mountain in Cambodia – I really miss snowboarding.

Do you have any phobias? I get really anxious about anxiety.

If you could change one thing in grocery, what would it be? I know that everyone is busy, and we all shop by habit, but I would love it if customers could become more aware of what they are buying, the impact that it has, and were helped to make informed choices.

I believe positive impact can be affordable if we shorten value chains and empower consumers with information.

IBIS Rice Range -3

What luxury would you have on a desert island? A small but comfortable boat. I’d just do laps.

What animal most reflects your personality? Probably a badger, I think the beef industry is the problem, not me.

What’s your favourite film and why? The NeverEnding Story. It has a racing snail and The Nothing is a great representation of neocapitalism.

What has been the most embarrassing moment in your life? I feel like my friends are going to write in with the real ones, but I’d say since mobile phone with cameras became the norm I am repeatedly surprised and deeply embarrassed by how different my dancing looks versus how good I think it looks. I still do it again though.

Which celebrity would you most like to work with and why? This dream has recently become a reality. I grew up watching The Really Wild Show and admire Chris Packham’s ability to be a punk, an activist and such an accomplished TV presenter – conveying his passion for wildlife to so many. He is fearless, selfless and so astute in how to best stand up for nature in these critical times. Having him as brand ambassador for Ibis Rice is a dream come true.

What would your death row meal be? Kuy teav (Cambodian noodle soup) and a pint of Guinness.

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