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Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme inspires

The New Zealand Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme is developing emerging agribusiness leaders to help shape the future of our country’s rural affairs.

While some of us have just been trying to stay warm this past winter, some of our country’s most promising agribusiness leaders have been exploring ways to grow New Zealand’s primary industries.

Twenty-four rural professionals from around New Zealand have been working alongside each other for the past 5 months to develop themselves and build their strategic knowledge of our local primary sector.

The graduates will join an exclusive group of “Kelloggers”, many of whom are leaders in politics, big business, rural institutions and school and company boards here and overseas. Farmlands Director – People and Safety, Ruth Knewstubb says that investment in the capability of the next generation of leaders is needed for the primary industries.

“The (Kellogg Rural Leadership) Programme offers a unique opportunity for early-career leaders to not only build on their individual skills and knowledge but also to develop progressive networks within the primary industries,” she says. “This experience will undoubtedly leave its participants with a desire to take the lead.”

Every year, Farmlands provides financial support, takes part in presentations and student selections and offers two places on the course to candidates from the rural sector.

The Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme is run bi-annually and is open to 24 students who are demonstrating leadership potential and a willingness to assume responsibility in rural affairs.

Take, for instance, Farmlands Category Manager – Crop Protection and Fertiliser, Darryl Stretton. The 33-year-old from Christchurch participated in the programme earlier this year and says he found it to be an “incredibly stimulating course”.

“Kellogg is a fantastic opportunity to meet a wide range of like-minded individuals who are keen to have a positive influence on our rural industries,” Darryl says. “We were shown the New Zealand political system and ways that we can best utilise it to share the views of local farmers and growers on industry matters.”

Darryl says the programme also provided him with a platform to gain key learnings from today’s primary industry leaders, while encouraging him to “think outside the box”.

“Together, we’ve been able to question our rural leaders to further our own learning. To have the time – and a forum under ‘Chatham House Rule’ – to discuss some of the issues facing our rural sector was great. It has left me with an increased passion for our industry,” he says. “I feel that I can now help to take the rural industries forward and play a key part in delivering the next level of returns for New Zealand.”

Harriet Cameron, a Canterburybased Sales Manager at Farmlands, agrees. She has been working at our co-operative for almost 7 years and says her Kellogg Rural Leadership experience has been pivotal in her development.

“The course provided me with new insight into many of the different dimensions of primary industry leadership, operations, governance and politics. There is no other development programme quite like it,” she says.

“Everything that happens during the Kellogg course is designed to test, teach, challenge and expand your potential. Learning with a group of like-minded people was motivating and deepened my understanding of current trends and challenges facing the sector – such as New Zealand’s access to international markets, the alternative proteins sector and the provenance of our foods. I’m now looking for ways to share these lessons with our shareholders to help them to further their own success.”

The Kellogg course has two intakes per year – January to July and June to November.

The participants study communication and human-relation skills, decision making, negotiation and critical thinking. Students also build awareness of economic and social issues, an understanding of the political process, personal efficiency, accessing information, researching a topic and writing a report.

Area Manager – Upper South, George Millar was one of the Farmlands'scholarship recipients in 2017 and, naturally, he was pretty excited.

“I was thrilled to be chosen for the Kellogg Programme,” George says. “I had been looking for ways to grow my leadership skills to develop my team – and Kellogg helped me to do exactly that.”

He says that it was not until he participated in the programme that he came to realise the strength of grassroots leadership in influencing positive change locally.

“Every single one of us really do have the ability to influence others in beneficial ways and drive meaningful change within our sector. I am now looking at how I can tap into this for the benefit of my team and the needs of our co-operative.”

George says that learning to manage people, understand their different learning styles and their preferred communication styles has been a real asset. “But if there’s one key thing that I took away from the programme, it’s that a ‘growth mindset’ today is paramount to the success of our primary industry tomorrow.”

Matte Kirk from the Waikato shares this view. As a Farmlands Assistant Sales Manager, the 36-year-old says that despite having more than 10 years’ experience in the rural sector, there is always more you can learn to further help shareholders.

“Participating in the Kellogg Programme has provided me with greater confidence to challenge myself and to go out and challenge what is happening in the wider community. I now read information with a fresh lens,” Matte says. “I question its origin and the depth of its research. I know that this approach will help me to keep up with the industry trends that are making real impact.”

He says that the network of “Kelloggers” and leaders across the primary industries is hugely rewarding.

“I look forward to utilising these going forward.”

The Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme is designed for rural people and has three phases – a 10 day residential course at Lincoln, a project done at home and then 3 days at Lincoln and 4 in Wellington.

Darryl, Harriet, George and Matte all say that the course is something they recommend to anyone who has the ambition to make a difference to the New Zealand primary sector.

“It will equip you with the tools and skills that you need for playing a key role in shaping the future of our primary industries,” Darryl says. “Go for it!”

Applications for the second intake in 2019 close on Monday 18th March 2019. For more information, visit