Courageous leadership: A look at present day leadership in New Zealand agriculture.

Executive Summary

This report is a look at leadership in agriculture in New Zealand.
The purpose of this research is to provide a context in which leadership exists in the agricultural sector today. If we can understand the present situation and the reasons that has shaped leadership in this way, then this will give us far greater insight into the structure, skills and psyche of the sector. Once this analysis has been completed, discussion can then be had regarding what kind of leaders the future will need.
When the current context is used as a framework to look at the structure that currently exists, a pathway can be plotted to achieve this new leadership, while avoiding mistakes made in the past based on who farmers are and how they choose leaders. This gives the sector the best chance at success, by momentarily looking back and then looking forward with the current constraints in mind.

“Leadership has changed and these days’ leadership is very much about how you can get the best out of your team and the people around you. Leadership in the old days- it was very much about ‘I’ll lead, you follow’. John key is a good example of this [new] kind of leader. People say he flip flops, but it’s not flip flopping at all. He’s very good at understanding that you have to take people with you and that’s the only way you can be an effective leader and so it’s very much about the most effective leadership style for today’s environment which is taking people with you and someone that leads from within rather than someone that leads from in front. We are a much more inclusive society today. In a small country like NZ, if you go out in front and try and lead, there’s always people that want to chop you down, so I think the leadership style matches our personality in many ways. We don’t like tall poppy’s and people that go out in front. We like people that lead from within.”
The research undertaken, and the resulting report, seeks to answer questions around leadership in New Zealand Agriculture. What do we have currently and why has this evolved? What are the things that are working and not working and what aspects of leadership, sector structure and knowledge/skills do we need for our industry to have the best chance at success? The ultimate discussion focuses around the opportunities

on how we achieve this leadership and strengthen our back bone industry of New Zealand. Agriculture needs to be made more resilient and economically viable enough to withstand any challenge it is likely to face in the future.

The key opportunities discussed are:

  • A collaborative sector through combining meat, dairy and Maori Agribusiness. This is imperative and it needs to happen from the farmers right through to governance. Collaboration will allow New Zealand agriculture to align its reputation and identity as closely as possible. This will require leadership we don’t currently have and policy that currently doesn’t exist.
  • Leaders are made either by becoming accidental leaders or seeking out higher governance roles. Both leadership beginnings will be required in the agricultural sector, with training and self-awareness to understand the limitations and insights of both.
  • Diversity of the leadership within the industry is imperative. That needs to include women, Maori and other ethnicities and younger leaders. This is not about gender equality; but different perspectives helping to enrich discussion and solution based leadership. The millennials could well be the key to looking at challenges we are yet to face, with renewed vigor and courage.
  • The leadership that is required for these challenges is different to leadership in its current form.
  • A radical change in how we sell our produce and who we sell it to is required, to attract a premium to allow farming in New Zealand to stay economically viable in the face of increased costs and regulation.

There is no doubt the agricultural sector needs strong, courageous, brave, skilled leaders with good judgement. Some of this currently exists, but a larger cross section of leaders with diverse perspectives need to display these attributes. If we have these ideas about the weaknesses in the sector, we can rectify these going forward. Training and leadership organizations will help this and there should be a larger focus on professional and personal development by leadership teams and potential leaders. However, the future challenges the industry is likely to face will help to cultivate strong and courageous leadership, and this leadership will prosper.

Had time permitted, ideally more leaders would have been interviewed to bring more depth of discussion and perspective. However, the research undertaken here can be built on at some stage. More research into leadership theory by Hogan, Marlow’s hierarchy of needs and different leadership styles would further develop this research. This topic would be worthy of a comprehensive thesis, as leadership is often talked about but rarely understood.

Courageous Leadership: A look at present day leadership in New Zealand Agriculture – Sarah Bell

What does it take to be a Great Employer in 2016.

Executive Summary

The motivation to research what it takes to be a great employer in 2016? stems from the author’s 10-year involvement in the kiwifruit post-harvest sector and an acknowledgment that a number of forces both globally and within the kiwifruit industry have reshaped the employment landscape during this time. The author’s opinion is that the kiwifruit post-harvest sector has experienced a human capability deficit in recent years which has put increasing pressures on current middle and senior managers. While at the same time there has been a shift in employee preferences at a global level.

This report aims at validating the author’s anecdotal views through a globally focussed literature review and a set of semi-structured interviews of middle and senior managers in the kiwifruit post- harvest sector. Interviewees were asked to define what a great employer looks like, what motivates them and what the greatest challenges to employers within the sector are in becoming a ‘great employer.’

A key finding from the literature review was that technology and generational preferences are having a significant impact on the employer/employee relationship. The literature review was completed using a framework from the NZ Human Rights Commission ‘7 Key Elements of a Good Employer’ and adapted to being more ‘current’ based on findings. The literature review found that employees are increasingly looking to their employer to build their “personal brand”, develop a strong personal relationship with them, offer values and goals alignment, provide them with purpose and consider their wellbeing both physically and mentally through offering flexible conditions and encouraging work-life balance.

At the kiwifruit post-harvest sector level, rapid volume growth, increasing competition among post- harvest operators and increasing sophistication and complexity brought about by the industry’s strong customer focus have contributed to changing the landscape. Managers interviewed indicated that this has placed increased pressures on them. While seasonality has always been a challenge for the industry, the nature of seasonality appears to have changed. Historically, permanent staff were offered a “Work Hard, Play Hard” role where it was well accepted that long hours during a defined period over the harvest and packing season were counter-balanced by flexible work hours over the summer period of lower activity.

The outcome has been that there is a mismatch between findings of the literature review and trends within the post-harvest sector. Employees are looking for greater flexibility in their roles, improved work-life balance and enhanced wellbeing. However, longer work hours and greater stress have been a feature of work within the kiwifruit post-harvest sectors of recent years.

Managers interviewed highlighted the risk the sector faces if the industry is not able to attract talented individuals to the sector via a strong employment brand that is underpinned by more normal work hours and the other desirable features identified through this research as presented in Figure 10.
This report aims to identify what it takes to be a great employer in 2016? And identify what challenges the kiwifruit post-harvest sector faces in becoming a great employer.

What does it take to be a Great Employer in 2016 – Anthony Pangborn

What makes a strong rural community.

Executive Summary

The aim of this research was to explore ways to strengthen rural communities in New Zealand. The research focuses on the three small rural communities of Kimbolton, Apiti and Rangiwahia, all located in the northern Manawatu.

Six households were chosen from each community and invited to participate in the project. The participants were given a survey and interviewed in their homes. The survey questions covered the following things: participants’ understanding of a sense of community, rural change, community facilities and social groups, community involvement, understanding of community governance, and access to technology.

Alongside the interviews, a literature review has been done. This explores the importance of community, the concept of social capital and examines research done into communities facing change in relation to a changing rural environment.

In interviewing the participants, it was evident that community meant more than a physical or geographical location or connection. Everyone involved in the interviews talked about relationships and connections, and supporting community members, i.e. social capital.

Participants were asked to score their own community on a scale from 0 = no sense of community, to 5 = strong sense of community. The scores ranged from 1-4, with the majority sitting around 3. The desire for a strong sense of community was expressed and participants were keen to discuss what could be done to improve this.

It was evident in discussions on community governance, that all communities needed to have a more visible community vision and strategic direction. The foundation for this has been provided by work done on community planning with the Manawatu District Council. The drive now needs to come from within each community.

Participants were asked about rural change over the last ten years, and its effect on individuals and on the community. Relative newcomers to the communities talked about recent changes, while well-established members went back over 40 years to discuss the effects of dramatic change.

The importance of good infrastructure was evident. Good roads, access to fast, affordable internet and reliable cell phone coverage were all deemed essential to the communities’ wellbeing and development. For example, the recent sealing of a country road has made travel easier for residents and has also opened the area for tourist exploration.

All participants were heavily dependent on technology for social interaction, information and research, i.e. Google, business interactions and the ability to access technology for use on farms etc. Several participants talked about access to fast internet being vital in promoting the area to both a domestic and international audience. Several participants felt limited by expensive, and still unreliable, internet in the area.
Cell phone coverage remains a problem in places, particularly out on farms. Safety and ability to communicate for business needs were listed as high concerns.

The smallest community, Rangiwahia, appeared to have the highest social capital and community engagement. This is perhaps because counter-urbanisation is minimal and the community is still predominantly made up of farming families. There are very few lifestyle blocks and minimal urban influence. However, this is a community that is forward thinking, action based, and innovative with a high level of social capital.

The communities with the least cohesion had many transient farm staff and several people looking for very affordable housing and an alternative lifestyle.

The challenge here lies with successfully integrating non-rural community members into a traditional farming community. It is evident that larger communities face perhaps the most complex challenge with diverse individual and community needs.
The conclusion drawn from the research and literature review is that building strong social capital is necessary for a strong sense of community and sense of belonging.

This report concludes with four broad recommendations for actions that can be taken to support and strengthen New Zealand’s rural communities.

These are:

  1. Create Conscious Community – build social capital
  2. Build Quality Leadership – support, train and encourage
  3. Encourage Collaboration – with other local communities
  4. Community Development – social, economic and environmental

The challenge to our modern day rural communities is to embrace change and to continue to evolve. This is required to meet the needs of the 21st Century rural community. For this to be possible, communities need strong leadership, an inclusive and engaged community and the ability to think outside the box.

What makes a strong rural community – Katherine Gillespie

Reserve Bank Bulletin

This report, released today, covers the banking side of NZ Dairy Farming and makes for an interesting read. Recent Kellogg graduate Zach Mounsey alongside others, has helped analyse the findings, create and publish the report. This shows the depth of critical thinking and wide industry involvement that Kellogger’s have. Well done Zach!

Starting the family succession conversations

Executive Summary

Why is family succession planning an issue we should be concerned about? It comes back to the word family. Family succession planning within the agricultural landscape conquers within, an emotional connection to the land and a cultural identity within New Zealand. There have always been family businesses running farms and there appears to be a strong desire for this to continue long into the future within New Zealand Agriculture. Family succession also deals with the love and affection of those most dear to us and with significant wealth at stake it must be done well for family relationships to be enhanced through the process.
However when it actually comes to family farm succession, no one size fits all and that is primarily why succession is still discussed, researched, and written about. It has never been an easy conversation to navigate through to the desired outcome with operating environments constantly changing and continuing to evolve. However there are processes that can enable the conversations to occur within the family business to focus them on a desired outcome they can achieve together.
In some cases the terminology of family farm succession is also beginning to change. Being referred to as an ‘intergenerational business model’ and ‘family business continuance’ where the sole concept of asset transfer has broadened to include the transfer of knowledge and experience between the generations (McLeod & Dooley, 2012). This in itself infers a shift in mind set to intergenerational or continuance indicating a natural progression through the generations as opposed to simply succeeding in the family business or a sale of an asset.
Those spoken with and throughout the literature identified numerous triggers for a family succession process to begin ranging from a death in the family, an accident or injury, marriage or divorce, son or daughter wanting to ‘come home’, age and stage, someone asking the family the question of succession, through to business opportunities being identified which require a succession conversation. The trigger point will vary depending on the family situation. Once identified by the family as a priority the process can begin and conversations initiated to determine the way forward. Key attributes contributing to the success or otherwise of the process is a commitment and good will to see an agreed outcome achieved. This will often require patience and perseverance along with mutual respect for all involved.
Communication was identified time and time again underpinning the succession conversations because this is where and how the process has to begin. Addressing the ‘icebergs’ within the family business is about clearly articulating a number of often unspoken expectations, aspirations, assumptions, concepts such as fairness and equality and ultimately what the vision of the family business actually is. The part of communication which is often forgotten is the ability to listen and respect each person’s contribution and opinion to the conversations as the process unfolds. As George Bernard Shaw stated “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place”.
Starting early often yields the best outcome for the family as time allows identified issues or concerns to be raised and addressed before it is too late. Dr James Lockhart points to the Dutch as an example of how to begin the conversations around family business governance. He indicates this should start from an early age discussing family business matters around the kitchen table. As the family grows and develops keeping the family involved in planning meetings and discussing the future helps to shape business principles and future conversations about their place in the business or what the future may hold. The family is exposed to the process of sharing ideas, listening and discussing plans for the current business and its future. By discussing the family business from a young age, siblings are exposed to business processes and skills which are required when it comes to more formal discussions around family succession planning.
What became clear from interviews with professionals and farmers is that strategic business planning is an area of running a family business that is not given enough priority. Rather time is spent working in the business but not on the business. The planning process involves disciplined time set aside to think about and plan for the future needs of the current business. Thinking through where are we now and where do we want to be with a plan of how to achieve that. Prioritising business planning enables a step towards succession conversations as this should come up within these planning sessions as the future is discussed. Encouraging business planning and governance principles within a family business is an important enabler for a strong platform for succession conversations to begin from.
Ultimately the outcomes of a family succession conversation will be determined by the family, for the family, as success will look different to every business. Following a structured process to succession planning which is led by a strong chair or independent facilitator to navigate a series of conversations, interviews and family meetings can enable this to occur and an outcome achieved rather than being put off or put in the too hard basket.
It is for the family to decide together what they want to see happen in the next phase of the family business cycle, how they determine that to occur, when the transfer will take place and why they want that to be their future.

Starting the Family Succession Conversations – Nathan Nelson

New Harvest Conference New York: Synthetic Food Debate

The hype and debate around synthetic food seems to keep ramping up with a continuous stream of articles in the farming papers and mentions from so called futurists, but when I attended the New Harvest 2017 conference in New York last month, I got the impression that the rhetoric and the marketing is still out of tune with actual production and sales.
New Harvest is a non-profit group that aims to fund and coordinate research into ‘Cellular Agriculture’ and covers the extreme end of synthetic food including in-vitro meat production, and milk protein synthesis without the need for cows.
When I attended the 2016 conference, I got the impression that despite the incredible amount of funding and interest in the field, there were some serious hurdles like the use of bovine foetal serum for cell growth and the need to get USDA approval for novel technologies. There was also an obvious lack of farmers and food processors in the room, so there was no balanced debate or real-world experience.
This year, after giving my feedback on the 2016 conference, I was asked to speak on a panel alongside a Welsh farmer (also a Nuffield scholar) and two of the leaders from the Cell Ag world. The questions put to us included “what will happen to all the farm animals when they’re not required any more” and “is clean meat the right term to be using to describe cell cultured tissue?”
It was always going to be a tough crowd and there’s a real need to get more farmers and researchers in on the conversation. But I think we managed to get a couple of points across like “YouTube doesn’t represent different farming systems very well” and that “animal agriculture is actually a rich part of human culture.”
To me, the thing that needs the most attention from a New Zealand Agriculture point of view, is pushing back on the claims that are being made by the synthetic food companies.
Stats like ‘98% less water consumption to make cultured milk’ and ‘95% less land to make a veggie burger’ are presented like they are facts when they’re quite frankly rubbish.
I strongly believe that once some real research (instead of modelling) is done on the actual production (instead of forecasts) of synthetic food, then pastoral farming will prove more efficient and therefore cheaper and better for the environment. That message is being diluted by the millions of dollars being pumped into the marketing of synthetic food and animal agriculture still runs the risk of being shot without a fair trial.
Richard Fowler, 2016 Scholar

Anne Hindson: Update from GM November 2017

There has been lots going on since I last updated you in August. This is my summary of the key activities and the highlights of the year.Earlier this month we announced our 2018 Scholars. This edition follows up on our brief, pre-media announcement to you with photos and bios of the scholars. I hope that many of you will get to meet the scholars during their scholarship year.

The 2018 Awards Ceremony was hosted in Parliament by the new Minister of Agriculture, Damian O’Connor in his first few days in office. Having the Minister able to present the awards had special significance given both his father and brother are Nuffield alumni.
A second highlight of the Awards evening was hearing the progress of the current scholars. Each shared their preliminary insights on their research topic. With greater emphasis on scholars studying topics that will add value and offer solutions to some of the challenges facing the primary sector, there was strong interest from those attending. The value of this has been reinforced with MPI Director General, Martyn Dunne requesting a presentation from the scholars to MPI staff in the new year.
Having shared information and experiences with the 2017 scholars, the 2018 scholars will have a two-day New Zealand and Industry sector briefing in Wellington on 7/8th December. This is to ensure they understand the global positioning, strategy and key markets of our primary sectors, as well-informed ambassadors of NZ and Nuffield.

New Entity

The New Zealand Rural Leadership Trust has now been operating for 6 months, managing the Nuffield Scholarships and the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme. The transition to a standalone entity has taken time, but the organisation is now well set up to meet opportunities and challenges for the future. The legal and accountancy advice required has been significant and I wish to acknowledge the generous support of Mark Tavendale of Tavendale & Partners (legal) and Andrew Hawkes & team at KPMG Christchurch office (accounting) and encourage alumni to support them for any future needs.
The office at Lincoln University has been retained with myself and Lisa Rogers, our Programme Coordinator based there. The Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme is still delivered using Lincoln University venues and facilities.

Investing Partners

Our Strategic Partners are now contributing to leadership pathways by supporting both programmes and are actively involved in the development of leaders for the sector.
During the year, FMG and Agmardt have recommitted to a three-year partnership with the Trust, while Dairy NZ and Beef+Lamb NZ have continued their support.
For our organisation, the value of these industry partners comes in many ways with the National Advisory Group (representatives of the four organisations) providing regular industry insights, developments and views on future leadership needs to help us better shape the programmes. In addition, they have provided meeting space, special project support & Nuffield selection specialist HR support.
Our Programme Partners have grown in number, and their support is equally valuable providing marketing and speaker support to the programme.

Associate Director appointment

The Board recently invited alumni from the last 5 years to expression interest in the Associate Director role being vacated by Dan Shand in November. After considering the five applications, Mat Hocken was selected and will take on the position in January 2018 for 18 months. This is part of our commitment to provide ongoing leadership development opportunities to scholars, with governance a key goal for some.

Upcoming Events

Dave Hurst and his team have finalised the exciting programme for the 2018 Nuffield NZ Biennial Conference in May 2018 in Tauranga and surrounds. They are confidently anticipating a great turnout! You will be receiving information and regular updates over the next few months.
The programme will begin at 2pm on Thursday 10th May to accommodate presentations from the eleven scholars, including the six 2017 scholars with their reports “hot off the press”! The programme features some interesting field visits reflecting the agri-food and business strengths of the Bay of Plenty region.

The 2020 Nuffield Triennial Conference organising committee has been convened under the chairmanship of Michael Tayler with Murray King, Jane Mitchell, Steve Wilkins, Desiree Whittaker (Reid), John Wright, Rebecca Hyde, Anne Hindson and Lisa Rogers on the planning committee. Other alumni will be brought in to assist with specific activities as required.

This event will be a major undertaking so thanks to the team that have taken on the challenge.

We plan to hold the 2020 Nuffield NZ Biennial Conference in conjunction with the Triennial but with a separate programme.
Thank you for your support during the year. We particularly value the role you play in identifying and encouraging applications from potential and successful new Nuffielders. You are our most powerful and respected advocates.

I look forward to seeing you all in May, in Tauranga for the conference.

Anne Hindson

Jessica Bensemann in Mexico City

Photo above: Jessica at local school, where they put semi-permanent classrooms after their building was damaged by the recent earthquake.

Jessica is currently in Mexico City on a temporary assignment for four months as Acting Deputy Head of Mission in the New Zealand Embassy. 
It’s an interesting time to be in the region, with the recent conclusion of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the on-going renegotiation of NAFTA.  Free Trade Agreement negotiations are also underway between New Zealand and the Pacific Alliance countries of Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia.  The role of the Embassy is to gather information about the negotiations by meeting with government and industry stakeholders. 
My learnings from Nuffield enable me to understand the broader geo-political dynamics at play in production and trade, particularly related to agriculture and food.  The concept from my report of how a country’s external strategy is driven by their culture and geographical location applies also in Mexico, where they  have become a strong manufacturing country based on lower cost labour, with supply chains integrated into the United States.  
Mexico is New Zealand’s largest trading partner in Latin America, and while food and beverage exports dominates the profile, there are an increasing number of innovative New Zealand companies seeing Mexico as a platform for entry into the region. 
A period of disruption in traditional international relationships presents opportunities for New Zealand to think about new business models that respond to the needs and challenges facing other countries in this period of uncertainty.    
Jessica Bensemann, 2016 Scholar

Jessica Bensemann in Mexico City

Jessica is currently in Mexico City on a temporary assignment for four months as Acting Deputy Head of Mission in the New Zealand Embassy.  It’s an interesting time to be in the region, with the recent conclusion of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the on-going renegotiation of NAFTA.  Free Trade Agreement negotiations are also underway between New Zealand and the Pacific Alliance countries of Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia. 
Mexico is New Zealand’s largest trading partner in Latin America, and while food and beverage exports dominates the profile, there are an increasing number of innovative New Zealand companies seeing Mexico as a platform for entry into the region. 
A period of disruption in traditional international relationships presents opportunities for New Zealand to think about new business models that respond to the needs and challenges facing other countries in this period of uncertainty.