Open main menu

Dr Geoff Garrett AO is the former Chief Scientist of the State of Queensland, Australia and led two of the world's major national research and development (R&D) organisations, CSIRO in Australia and CSIR in South Africa.

He currently lectures in leadership and change management and provides coaching support in these areas to academics and to senior officers of the Australian Public Service.


As Queensland's Chief Scientist[1][2] (2011 - 2016) he was accountable for science policy, providing strategic guidance across a range of government departments, and was involved with or led a number of reviews and enquiries covering the science of floods,[3] uranium mining, the bat-induced Hendra virus, underground coal gasification, health and biomedical research and water quality improvement in the Great Barrier Reef.[4][5][6]

Formerly, from 2001 - 2008, Garrett was Chief Executive and member of the Board of Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).[7]

In this capacity he also served on the Prime Minister’s Science, Engineering and Innovation Council in Australia for eight years.

Before joining CSIRO, Garrett led South Africa’s national science agency, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), as President and Chief Executive, 1995 - 2000, following five years as Executive Vice President, Operations. He joined CSIR in 1986 to head up South Africa’s National Institute for Materials Research.

Before joining CSIR, from 1979 Garrett taught at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg as Professor of Physical and Fabrication Metallurgy and subsequently as Head of Department.

Prior to this, Garrett held a lecturing position at the University of Cape Town, from 1973, where he was also Warden at Leo Marquard Hall of Residence.

During his academic career, he held visiting positions at Brown University (RI, USA), and Oxford and Sheffield Universities (UK).

Educated in the United Kingdom, Garrett is a graduate of Cambridge University where he completed a doctorate in metallurgy. He was also a Cambridge Boxing Blue. His research interests centred around the fracture and fatigue behaviour of engineering materials.

During 2010, he was a Visiting Fellow in Innovation with the Australian National University (ANU). During that time he was also engaged with an International Review for the US National Science Foundation of the major 25 country International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP), and in 2010 was appointed Chairman of ANZIC, the Australia New Zealand IODP Consortium comprising 20 collaborating institutions, a post he held through to December 2016.

At present, in addition to his executive coaching work, he is also a Deputy Chair of the National Youth Science Forum, a non-Executive Director of Behaviour Innovation Pty Ltd, and Patron of the Australian Citizen Science Association (ACSA). He also provides support to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation as a member of their Partnership Management Committee.


Garrett is a recipient of the Centenary Medal for service to Australian society through science, and was named by the Australian Financial Review as one of Australia’s 2008 ‘True Leaders’.

In June 2008 he was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO)[8] in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

In December 2008 CSIRO’s Flagship Programs received the top Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Public Sector Management.

In 1998 Garrett was named ‘Engineer of the Year’ by the South African Society for Professional Engineers[9] and South Africa’s ‘Boss of the Year’.[10]


Garrett is co-author with Sir Graeme Davies, formerly Vice-Chancellor of the Universities of Liverpool, Glasgow and London, of the highly regarded "Herding Cats - Being advice to aspiring academic and research leaders"[11] (Triarchy Press, UK), and its sequel for leaders in the professions, Herding Professional Cats.[12]

Recent popular articles include for the Academy’s (ATSE) magazine, Focus[13] and for the Australian Institute of Policy and Science’s (AIPS), Australian Quarterly.[14]


Geoff has been married to Janet (née Bennett) since 1972. They have four sons Ben, Matt, David and Luke, and five grandchildren (so far!), Liam, Aran, Evie, Frankie and Reuben.

He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, the Royal Society of South Africa and the Australian Institute of Company Directors.


  1. ^ New Chief Scientist for the Smart State, 6 October 2010, Media release, Queensland Government
  2. ^ "About - Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist".
  3. ^ Understanding Floods, 2011
  4. ^ Panel to provide expert advice on Reef priorities, 27 June 2015, Media release, Australian Government
  5. ^ Reef Water Science Taskforce report guides $90M investment, 25 May 2016, Media release, Queensland Government
  6. ^ Chang, Charis, 7 June 2015. Action on fixing the Great Barrier Reef, Retrieved 14 December 2017
  7. ^ CSIRO Chief Executives and Chairs, Retrieved 14 December 2016
  8. ^ Member of the Order of Australia (OM), It’s an Honour website
  9. ^ Engineer of the Year 1998, South African Society for Professional Engineers
  10. ^ Boss of the Year 1998, South Africa
  11. ^ Garrett, Geoff & Davies, Graeme. 2010 Herding Cats, Triarchy Press
  12. ^ Davies, Graeme & Garrett, Geoff. 2013 Herding Professional Cats, Triarchy Press
  13. ^ Garrett, Geoff. June 2016, pages 7-9. Things are moving fast - and faster, ATSE Focus. Retrieved 14 December 2016
  14. ^ Garrett, Geoff. Jul-Sep 2016. The Surprise State, Australian Quarterly, Australian Institute of Policy and Science. Retrieved 14 December 2016