Cartoons inspire career in genetics

May 9, 2024

Pictured: Rick Schmidt

Not many people can claim 1990s Saturday morning cartoons as the inspiration for a successful career in genetics…but Rick Schmidt can.

Mr Schmidt has been appointed as Genetics Australia’s Gippsland sales representative. He comes from a diverse background in sales and industrial sciences, most recently as a Key Account Manager for a chemical engineering company in the paper industry. His experiences also cover retail, hospitality, industrial laboratories, genetic research, and a little graphic design.

And it all stems from those oddball cartoons.

“Genetics has been a passion of mine since the early 90s, watching Saturday morning cartoons where every show was mixing this with that to create a super-whatever,” he said. “That later translated into video games doing much of the same and then into a passion for biology and how things work.”

Mr Schmidt started his career in groceries as a trolley pusher and worked his way up to duty manager while at high school and university before getting a taste of a working lab environment in a water chemistry lab.

He left university at 20 when his father passed away and focused on getting a career without a degree. Including managing a Good Guys store in Traralgon for five years, developing his customer service and sales skills.

Mr Schmidt later returned to Federation University to study a Bachelor of Science – Biotechnology while finding work in local laboratories, including a research lab and industrial labs in the dairy industry and later the paper industry.

Mr Schmidt says he’s up for the challenge of bridging the gap in his knowledge about farming.

“I don’t have any real farming experience,” he said. “My grandparents had a beef farm in Hazelwood Estate for several years but have since retired and sold up. I was too busy studying and working in my teenage years and missed out on the farming experience.” 

But he’s keen to learn. “I have already learned so much about the industry and have only just started, but I have a solid foundation to build off and I look forward to the learning experience,” he said. “I get to use my skillsets in a new and interesting way while exploring the Gippsland region and get to help people do what they love in a field I have a lot of passion for.” 

“I am here to help farmers and retailers with their unique needs from GA. I have a great team behind me with decades of experience who I can rely on for whatever may come up and I’m most looking forward to working with farmers and seeing the next generation of their herds.”

Genetics Australia CEO Anthony Shelly said Mr Schmidt would bring a high level of sales and account management skills to the role. “Rick has sold everything from groceries, fridges, beer, chooks and chemicals, so his sales skills are vast with some great achievements,” Mr Shelly said.

“He obtained a Bachelor of Science – Biotechnology and spent several years as a quality technician and lab supervisor in the dairy industry and as a visiting researcher in a Genomics Research Laboratory.

“He now has the stimulus to develop a deep understanding of the cattle breeding industry,” he said.

Mr Schmidt is based in Churchill and will cover the broader Gippsland region.

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