WHILE new as a chief executive, Cape York Natural Resource Management boss Pip Schroor is hard pressed to list a community she hasn’t visited or an organisation she hasn’t worked with during her lifelong love affair with the area.
“I’m very new to being a CEO, and it feels really weird, but I have a level of comfort because I love the Cape,” Ms Schroor said of her new role.
“When the opportunity came up, it was the logical next step for me, and I honestly couldn’t think of working anywhere else.”
Ms Schroor is the first female CEO of the natural resource charity, and is no stranger to leading the way for women in a male-dominated field.
“I was the first female ranger in charge on the Cape when I worked at Kutini Payamu (Iron Range) National Park in 2009,” she said.
“For me, promoting women in conservation and mentoring and encouraging more women to work in the sector is something I’m passionate about.”
In addition to unbounded enthusiasm for her role and a passion for Cape York and its people, Ms Schroor’s professional background reads like a training guide for her new role.
“I was already working in the Cape region, then spent 15 years with Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service as a ranger,” she said.
After moving to Cairns in 2011 to have her daughter, Ms Schroor moved to QPWS’s joint management team, working with Aboriginal land trusts and corporations to help build their on-country NRM capacity.
Ms Schroor has also worked with the Torres and Cape Indigenous Councils Alliance as regional resilience coordinator, helping local governments from the Torres Strait to the Gulf and across the Cape to build disaster and climate change resilience and improve water and food security.
“What my staff at CYNRM currently do and help facilitate our partners to do is what I used to do. I used to do the weed spraying, light the fires, do the mapping and meet with stakeholders all across the Cape,” Ms Schroor said.
“What’s really important for me in this role is to connect my staff with the amazing people I’ve worked with in the Cape and get my staff to fall in love with and appreciate the Cape as much as I do.”
The CEO acknowledged that CYNRM had internal changes to make and lots of listening to do, as well as work building and strengthening stakeholder relationships.
“We haven’t worked as well as we could have but it’s a new day and now it’s about turning that around for the people of the Cape, the communities and the environment,” she said.
“The priorities for me are looking at CYNRM as an organisation, re-looking at how we operate and our strategic plan to ensure we fit with the changing landscape of NRM on the Cape.
“That all goes hand in hand with listening and learning about what the Cape communities, people and organisations want and seizing new opportunities such as innovation in renewable energy and sustainability funding.”
Ms Schroor encouraged as many people as possible to attend the AGM on October 21.
“We’re going to have an open floor Q&A session about CYNRM and its future, we want to hear what the community and organisations want, warts and all, what they want to see, what works and what doesn’t,” she said.
“It’s a new day for CYNRM, I want to hear and learn the stories and then advocate at that state and federal government level to improve the livelihoods and culture and help raise the profile of Cape York.”