About six years ago the regional director of a multinational German company flew from Singapore to Australia to interview a specialist recruiter. Amid total secrecy, the meeting would be the forerunner to a 220-million euros acquisition to establish Australia’s largest kitchen and laundry care consumer goods company. The director’s target recruiter had established a strong reputation while working on behalf of the German company’s subsidiary, Schwarzkopf, for 20 years.
Once onboard, the Sydney recruiter would have to source and enlist entirely new sales, marketing and supply chain teams without revealing to any candidate the new employer’s identity. That recruiter was Ed Suttle, who has since retired and become a prominent leader in the Goulburn community.
Ed’s recruitment assignment was so demanding he let go of every other client he had so assiduously built up during the previous decades. A sole operator who was single-minded on how to build his consultancy in the consumer goods space, his reputation was on the line each time he approached a prospective candidate.
“Candidates only talk to you once if they don’t trust you,” he says.
After a solid 18 months, the massive assignment became the spectacular finale to his recruiting business. And the company, German giant Henkel, acquired Colgate-Palmolive’s laundry and kitchen brands in Australia and New Zealand with all new staff in place from day one of operations. This set up Ed and his wife, Jane, for their new life in Goulburn away from Sydney’s rat-race.
Throughout Ed’s stressful, exacting role he had a calming ace. He sang.
Ed loves singing. He realised this when he was eight years old at school in England. Continuing to sing as an adult, a decade of voice training raised a curtain into choirs at the highest level, as a soloist with choral organisations and in the Opera Australia chorus as an extra.
“The voice is our original instrument,” he says. “Whether you think you can sing or not, your voice is your own instrument – the most personal way of making music there is. And singing within a choir is scientifically proven to be good for your health and mental wellbeing.
“Music education is absolutely essential. From an early age it is a recognised brain and social skills developer.”
Ed is president of the Hume Conservatorium board. Now serving the Goulburn region, the conservatorium is reaching a crescendo this year with the launch of the Hume Youth Orchestra, the opening of its Creative Precinct and the inaugural Hume Chamber Music Festival.
Before Goulburn, Ed and Jane owned a beach house on the NSW Central Coast which loomed as a possible place for retirement. Needing to keep busy, the Suttles looked for other retirement options on land within a two-hour drive from Sydney.
One of Jane’s ex-university mates is from Goulburn so there was a connection when they found and fell in love with a 92-hectare block.
“I’m thrilled with our decision,” says Ed. On the farm, ‘Kulathirrie’, millions of frogs reinforce the property’s Aboriginal name meaning: ‘place of the frogs’.
Jane has an agricultural and beekeeping background, and was keen to plant their overgrazed farm – which was prone to erosion – with local eucalypts. Together the couple has planted more than 1000 red box, yellow box, snow gums, apple box, acacia and dwarf oaks to provide food and habitat for varieties of birds, possums, bats and insects, and provide overall biodiversity.
After bushfire swept through ‘Kulathirrie’, many of the trees had to be replaced. Ed and Jane’s war on tussocks, thistles and other invasive weeds is gradually turning in the land’s favour.
Ed is also president of Community Energy for Goulburn (CE4G). Close to completing an ambitious $2 million fundraising for the local 1.2-megawatt community-owned solar farm, Ed is grateful for the response.
“It shows enormous trust from the local community, and it has put a massive weight on our shoulders because we now have their investment in a trust account until the farm is built,” he says. “It’s an enormous responsibility.”
Ed describes himself as an old Pom who loves Goulburn’s distinctive seasons, live theatre, music clubs and venues, and architectural heritage.
“It is just wonderful being involved in a broad range of activities and being able to contribute,” he says.
Ed and his friends have seriously considered running a ticket for election for Goulburn Mulwaree Council. However, he says that’s now unlikely.
“But you never know,” he adds.