Industry Focus – Agribusiness

Posted by The Icehouse on 19/09/2023 12:00:00 AM

How do business training courses, customised programmes and workshops help owner-managers, senior leaders and their teams in highly specialised industries such as the agricultural industry?  

Is there any sector in New Zealand that has to remain as “vigilant” to sweeping change as agribusiness (or agriculture)? 

Industry Focus – Agribusiness

All Kiwis know the importance of having a robust and resilient agri industry. It keeps the country moving and fed and, in 2022-23, NZ's farm exports alone were projected to be $55 billion (Rural Migration News). It also keeps the nation employed. According to Statista, approximately 81,200 New Zealanders (conservatively) were employed in the agriculture sector.

While agriculture is loosely defined as ‘the art and science of cultivating soil, growing crops and raising livestock’, today, agriculture encapsulates forestry and fisheries, food and non-food agri-related activities, horticulture, agritech and much more. 

Aside from the above, throw in the pressures of working in a highly-regulated sector, climate change and environmental issues, shifting supply chain management and logistics challenges, emerging technologies and there’s much to stay on top of.

Our agribusiness-related alumni report to us that aside from the daily pressures of running a highly specialised business, finding skilled talent, reducing labour shortages, succession planning in a family business, and product diversification considerations are also keeping them awake at night.

Okay, no one has a crystal ball to forecast when global dairy prices will rise or pinpoint how AI will impact the current generation of viticulturists, but what The Icehouse can do is work with authentic and successful businesses to advance business skills and fill knowledge gaps. 

This is done through a team of expert facilitators, by introducing guest speakers, creating a supportive and safe environment where cohorts can share experiences and stories with like-minded leaders and deliver real-world relevant and tailored advice to help individual businesses grow. 

Ash Nicholson, COO of Bluelab is a Leadership Development programme (LDP) alumni. “I’d just heard great things about The Icehouse. Jono [Jones, Bluelab CEO] had been through the Owner Manager Programme (OMP)… so it came with a really high rep. I saw it as just a good opportunity really.   

“You're just learning as much off the people who are sitting in the room with you, as you are off the facilitators. That alumni, I think it’s called ‘The Icehouse magic’, is real and quite cool! And confidence-building – knowing that most of the people in the room are all having the same sort of challenges, even though they come from different industries and different-sized businesses. 

“You gain a whole lot of connections you can touch base with and bounce ideas off post-course. You're learning a lot of new and sometimes not-new stuff, but just the confidence that you’re not alone battling your own battle.”

In a sector where finding great talent, and keeping them engaged by developing tangible and rewarding career paths, people management is becoming ever more relevant.

“This role is very people oriented. It is all about managing people. I know we work in the viticulture industry, providing labour and stuff like that. But my current role now is about managing our supervisors, my field managers under me, and trying to develop them to become good leaders… If you cannot manage people, you cannot do the job properly,” says Tom Oliver, Labour Operations Manager at Hortus and another LDP alumni.

‘Where I “live” in and out of the business is becoming a real issue for me, as it’s affecting my motivation, my decision making and my effectiveness,’ said one owner recently. The right kind of professional development can help.

“One of the big things I took away from day one was the three circles; you, your business and you in the business, and I think that a lot of Kiwi business owners don't separate that,” says Kurt Sandtmann, Managing Director at TRACTA of his OMP experience.

“By pulling that apart… I've managed to balance it a little bit better than I had. Some of the workshops we did with the likes of Sven Hansen on resilience, from a personal perspective, really stand out, and also financial simulations. It amazes me the amount of Kiwis who aren't actually that financially literate. That really helped from a business perspective.” 

“I went into OMP 52 this year very excited and ready to learn. It was amazing to discover that everyone has similar challenges and queries,” says Matt Flowerday, Managing Director of GPS-it Group.

“OMP reignited the spark of what we're going to do and why it's essential to take the team along with you. I enjoy coming to work and want my team to be excited and enjoy coming to work every day.”

More than just getting people in a room talking, the most successful programmes can help participants to reset and find new perspectives, whether it’s scaling a business, market strategy, financial literacy, developing a growth mindset, partnerships, governance, culture and resilience. 

These are ideals worth cultivating.

For information on programmes, workshops and business coaching services from The Icehouse, click here.

For more business ownership and leadership advice, check out more of our resources.

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Topics: Owner Manager Programme, Leadership Development Programme