Juliet Maclean, November 2017
Since my last note, not only do we have a new government, we also have five new Nuffield scholars.
The businesses of farming and growing have changed dramatically over the past decade. Historically, it was adequate for farmers to express a personal desire to care for their livestock and land and to ‘do the right thing’ when undertaking development projects. There was little scrutiny and our freedom to operate was largely unlimited. This is no longer the case, with a complicated landscape of approvals, monitoring and reporting, compliance and restrictions now changing the way rural businesses are operated. Both the general public and the regulators are lifting the bar on how farmers and growers produce food.
Many a rigorous debate has navigated the pros and cons of changing nutrient management regimes, protecting our waterways, reducing waste, keeping our people safe from harm, sourcing adequate capital to ensure financially robust businesses, biosecurity, customer centric marketing, succession and the place for exponential technology. I believe that sustainable and successful rural businesses will be led by those who stay abreast of these and many more topical issues, develop an ability to critically analyse the options, then execute with excellence.
With this backdrop and the Nuffield objective of encouraging global vision, leadership and innovation, your board of Trustees agonises over their decisions to select the most appropriate scholars from those who apply. We seek diversity, the potential to demonstrate thought leadership, to gather and share knowledge, to understand different aspects of our production to plate supply chain, to influence positive future outcomes for New Zealand and to ‘fit’ with our proud Nuffield culture.
Our agri business ownership structures are evolving and not all farmers own land, not all growers work full time within the farm gate. The future of work is such that technology will play a bigger part and a first chosen career is likely to be followed by many iterations of learning and doing as our future work-force reinvents themselves to stay relevant and engaged.
Our system for short listing, reference checking and interviewing scholar applicants for one of five available scholarships is now a very thorough one and a demonstration of Nuffield New Zealand focusing on professional management processes with outcomes which have relevance for the future.
Over recent years, the selection panel has balanced all these factors to select scholars whom we believe are ‘fit for the future. Some are hands on farmers and growers and others work alongside them to provide information and advice which is required to operate rural businesses. What these scholars all have in common is a sense of self responsibility to learn and lead and a strong desire to influence positive future outcomes for our rural ecosystem – communities, people, the environment and business. I believe a diverse and well networked Nuffield New Zealand will continue to be a national asset.
I look forward to seeing you all at the conference in Tauranga in May and I trust you’ve saved the date already. Our recent scholars are excited about presenting to you and are ready for your feedback and searching questions. They know this is the ‘Nuffield Way’.
Enjoy a safe and fulfilling summer, fun across the festive season and look forward to 2018 with excitement and anticipation; we are all privileged to have the opportunity to enjoy another year!