Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme takes its 1,000th step forward.

Can I have your attention please – the one thousandth graduate of the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme has just left the building!

Like the graduates before, they return to their family, community, industry, and to contribute to a sector that just got a little smarter, a little stronger.   

We’ll know more about the scale of the Kellogg Alumni’s collective impact as we get closer to completing the Mackenzie Study with the Otago  School of Business.

The first stage of this Study revealed remarkable personal and sector gains attributable to participation in the Nuffield Scholarship. The second stage should show similar results for Kellogg. After all, it has evolved over decades to be one of the most respected rural leadership programmes in Australasia.  

“People know the programme. It’s respected. They’ve seen the contributions that the Kellogg graduates have made over time”, says Dr Scott Champion, Programme Director. 

“It’s enormously significant. Obviously, there are other programmes that contribute as well, but you can’t deny the programme’s longevity. It has impacted on large scale now – we’ve just had the 1000th Kellogg Graduate.  

“Depending on whether we do two or three programmes, that’s somewhere between 45 and 65 Scholars per year. You start to build quite a community”, adds Scott Champion. 

Kellogg, a leadership programme spanning six decades.

The programme was initially developed in collaboration with the Kellogg Company in the US, as a way to enhance global leadership capability. Since then Kellogg Rural Leadership programme was reinvented many times over, keeping up with the challenges and the times. It delivers New Zealand centred syllabus, accredited by Lincoln and Massey Universities and delivered by the Rural Leaders.

In 2013, Kellogg was transferred to the newly-formed New Zealand Rural Leadership Consortium. This merged with the Nuffield New Zealand Farming Scholarship to create a single organisation. Four years later, the consortium became a registered charitable trust and changed its name to the New Zealand Rural Leadership Trust (Rural Leaders). 

A partnership known as the Pāhautea Initiative was formed in 2020 between Lincoln University, Massey University, AGMARDT and Rural Leaders. The initiative focused on building leadership capability in the regions, with the aim of creating a sustainable future for Food and Fibre.  

More recently, Kellogg academic accreditation through both Lincoln and Massey Universities has become available to those who undertake the Programme.

Kellogg offers new networks, friends and industry connections.

Rural Leaders deliver up to three programmes a year, with two based at Lincoln University. The other, in alignment with the Pāhautea Initiative’s aim of growing flourishing regions, is the same Lincoln Programme, only regionally based.  

Numbers are kept low to ensure a transformative experience, as the Kellogg journey is as much about learning from fellow scholars and developing a pan-sector network of friends as it is being exposed to industry leaders and new ideas. 

“For many Kellogg scholars, the enduring relationships and access to a network of like-minded change agents offers the most decisive outcome from the Programme. There’s a strong sense of trust, reciprocity, and a ‘pay it forward’ attitude which emerges amongst participants, says Phil Morrison, Kellogg Facilitator. 

The Kellogg eco-system of support and delivery.

The Kellogg team is passionate, dedicated, and ably steered by Chris Parsons, Rural Leaders’ CEO. Lisa Rogers, Programmes Manager, Annie Chant, Operations and Events Manager further support Scholars and Kellogg facilitators Dr Scott Champion and Phil Morrison, Dr Patrick Aldwell and examiner Professor Hamish Gow.  

The team work hard to provide a varied and stimulating learning experience.  

The Programme is delivered over three phases and includes two papers, the first of which requires the completion of specific assignments. This is delivered by Dr Scott Champion and Phil Morrison. 

The second paper, delivered by Dr Patrick Aldwell, involves completing a research project and giving a presentation at the end of the programme.  

Kellogg pushes beyond Primary sector boundaries.

On the first day of Phase One, Scholars are asked an important question. 

“On the first day they come in to the programme, we ask them, what’s the one thing you want to hit by the end? And then on the last day, we ask them what was most valuable thing to you through the programme?”, It’s a before and after comparison of perceptions of value,” says Dr Scott Champion. 

The results of this survey reveal where the true value is. One Scholar coming into the programme states, my one thing would be ‘…to find where I fit.’ At the end, that same Scholar says their most valuable thing was ‘the connections made with fellow Scholars and the greater Kellogg network’. Fit found perhaps. 

“It’s something you see really elevating as Scholars go through. And I think that’s evident in what they talk about as being most valuable to them. They often come in with something quite narrow and specific, like ‘I want to learn how to do X’, but when they leave, it’s about networks, understanding systems, understanding stuff beyond the boundaries of the sector they work in”, adds Dr Champion. 

Develop a questioning mindset with Kellogg.

On Phase One, Scholars embark on a nine-day, eight-night residential module based at Lincoln University, or potentially closer to home for the regionally based programme.  

This phase sets the foundations. It explores leadership skills and tools, including personal and team styles, design thinking, and critical analysis. Leadership applications of skills are also covered in various situational contexts, along with leadership strategic contexts – with a focus on New Zealand Food and Fibre Sector strategies and leadership challenges. 

Most importantly, underpinning this is the active encouragement of Scholars by facilitators, to develop a questioning mindset. 

“We play a video on the first day of Phase One, where a guy is saying, managers are defined by the things they know, leaders are defined by the questions they ask. It’s a 30 second clip, and it just nails it for me”, says Dr Champion. 

“We’ll often see comments in Scholars’ reflection journals from Phase One like, Oh, man, I thought I needed to know everything. But perhaps I don’t need to know everything. I just need to be able to think and ask questions.” 

Kellogg builds the confidence to engage with food and fibre leaders.

What Kellogg does so well is to expose Scholars to industry leaders. All of these senior people are eager to engage in conversations, and look to Scholars as the next generation of leaders, hungry to learn about the things they need to be thinking about. Kellogg creates a new interface for that knowledge transfer.  

“There’s often a reticence when senior or experienced industry people get in front of Scholars, to engage in a conversation, to ask questions. I completely understand that. So, what we’ve deliberately tried to do is reduce the monologue from the front, and increase the opportunity for questions. And then give them a real nudge to speak up. Scholars soon discover these people are very approachable,” says Dr Champion. 

“So experientially, we shift beyond just the head learning, to the heart learning. They think, I can do this, it was alright. That industry leader seemed to think that was an interesting question.”  

Scholars also make contact with industry leaders themselves, particularly during the individual research projects. Engaged people from a range of industries often respond to Scholars’ questions within 24 hours, and are more than happy to do interviews to help with research. 

“I think it speaks to the brand and standing of the Programme. There’s an opportunity to use the Kellogg brand to be able to talk to industry people and have some conversations that you might not otherwise be able to do”, says Dr Champion. 

Kellogg Scholars - from lifelong friends to lifelong learning.

Throughout the Programme, Dr Patrick Aldwell, Academic Director, works closely with Scholars to help them complete an individual research project. This is undertaken between Phase One and Phase Three.  

Scholars choose a topic of interest that also contributes to developing leadership outcomes and aspirations. The project brings together problem definition, research tool application, critical analysis, report writing and presentation. 

Dr Aldwell fosters a philosophy of lifelong learning with Scholars, and for many this begins with the research and reading disciplines acquired doing the research project. 

“That’s something that you need to adopt to be a leader. And the key part of that is reading widely”, says Dr Aldwell. 

On the programme the facilitators demonstrate to Scholars the importance of the lifelong learning piece, particularly in the critical thinking and critical analysis area, gathering different perspectives, seeking information, and evaluating its value and authenticity as well. 

“If there’s one key thing that’s changed in the last two years, is that we’ve gone from just comparing and contrasting information, and the status of that information, to comparing, contrasting and evaluating it,” adds Dr Aldwell.  

Dr Aldwell explains that one huge benefit he has seen arise from individual research is that Scholars gain at least one specialist area of knowledge, to the extent that in some organisations, they’ve become the go-to person for that area. Whether it’s dealing with anything from waste in the dairy industry, to succession planning.  

“That’s not just the knowledge and capability side of things, but also the ability to access, evaluate and produce credible information and analysis in an era of rising misinformation, and disinformation, the politicisation of those, and of knowledge,” states Dr Aldwell. 

Kellogg is an executive leadership programme gearing Scholars for success.

On the Programme’s remaining two phases the foundations built in Phase One guide Scholars strongly.  

Phase Two’s five day, four night residential in Wellington, looks at how to engage and influence decision making at local, regional and central government and industry level.  

Phase Three’s five-day (four-night) residential at Lincoln University, is the culmination of the project work, where Scholars demonstrate the application of research, presentation and critical analysis skills.  

A final goal setting for the future piece includes personal brand identification and provides the platform for ongoing learning and leadership development. 

“I get a real kick out of watching the Scholars succeed in life, because I do follow them, watch them grow, and develop. Seeing them have confidence to take the next step, no matter what that is. I’m constantly astounded at the energy they have, the strength of character they have, to see things through,” says Dr Aldwell. 

Who is the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme for?

Many Scholars who come into the programme, are in the transition from a technical management role to generalist management role.  

“The things that get you through that technical pathway, which is typically about knowledge and excellence, these are not the things that are necessarily going to equip you for the next generalist bit,” says Dr Champion.  

The programme helps leaders make that transition, whether they’re slightly beyond that, right on the cusp, or whether that might be something for them in the future.  

Arming Scholars with the ability to understand and make connections in ways that others can’t predict, or don’t. This is the alignment between what the programme does and equipping people to progress in their careers.  

“The best Scholars, leave able to join the dots, and make connections across areas that might seem quite disconnected when you first look at them. They’re able to lift above, like the specifics of the context of something, and think quite strategically about it”, notes Dr Champion. 

“They see connections across sectors or issues and that helps them think about opportunities, risks and challenges in quite different ways. The ability to do that as a leader is an enormously helpful thing”, adds Dr Champion. 

Rural Leaders’ bigger picture and Kellogg’s role in it.

The Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme, The Nuffield New Zealand Farming Scholarship, and the Value Chain Innovation Programme exist for one reason – to grow leaders with the ability to deliver the changes in food and fibre that ensure our communities, country and planet flourish. 

This isn’t just a version of a line on a website – 1000 Kellogg graduates, our rural leaders, are delivering that change. In the coming months we’ll share the Mackenzie study’s findings on their impact. There’s unlikely to be too many surprises. 

Dr Champion concludes,

“We have a collective intent in the Kellogg Programme, where we want to see Scholars contributing back to the sector and rural communities and ensuring the wellbeing of the regions and their people.” 

Our programmes work in partnership with some of New Zealand’s leading agribusiness organisations – click here for more.​