Alister lives and runs his farming business in the mid-Canterbury region. He has a Bachelor of Commerce (Agriculture) from Lincoln University. He was the Dairy Farmers of New Zealand provincial chairman from 1999 to 2001 and is a past national chairman of New Zealand Young Farmers.
Alister has been heavily involved in farmer advocacy, including acting as a farmer representative on Dairy InSight's advisory teams prior to being elected to the board. He currently chairs the Dairy and Environment Leadership Group (DELG) and the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards Trust. Other directorships include Pastoral Genomics Ltd., Ashburton Trading Society Ltd and Ruralco NZ Ltd.