Dr John Hay began his career as a pasture agronomist at DSIR Grasslands, which in 1992 became part of AgResearch. In 1999, he finished at AgResearch's Grasslands Division as General Manager, after 29 years with the institute. He was then Chief Executive of the Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) for 11 years. Currently, John chairs several boards including the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment's Science Board, Grasslanz Technology Ltd, Bio-Protection Research Centre and Motu Public Policy Research Group. He is also a board member of the World Wildlife Fund New Zealand.
In 2006, John was awarded the New Zealand Royal Society's Thomson Medal for outstanding and inspirational leadership in the management of science. He is currently Managing Director of Dr John Hay & Associates and consults on science policy, business strategy, research and management.