Collaboration creating world-class leadership framework

AGMARDT is part of a collaborative force led by the NZ Rural Leadership Trust to accelerate a better future for Aotearoa New Zealand through professionalising and scaling leadership development opportunities in our primary industries and rural New Zealand.

“Our kaupapa is to work with others, to be collaborative and positive in meeting the challenges of a highly complex world,” says Rural Leaders Chief Executive Chris Parsons.

“It takes 20-30 years to create a strategic leader so if New Zealand wants to be carbon neutral by 2050 and contribute to feeding the world, we need to be building an abundance of leaders now.”

Rural Leaders has delivered the prestigious Nuffield NZ Farming Scholarships and the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme for decades with support of investment partners including AGMARDT.

Now, with the new Pāhautea Initiative established in 2020, AGMARDT, Massey, Lincoln and Rural Leaders are working together to build a world-class leadership development framework for the primary sector.

“Our primary purpose is to develop, activate and support world-class leaders in New Zealand’s food and fibres sector, that is what Pāhautea is about.”

Pāhautea also means ‘flourishing’ and a core intention of all four partners is to help build flourishing regions.  In a first initiative in November 2020, the Kaipara Kai ‘Innovator Workshops’ were undertaken in Tai Tokerau (Northland) region.

A Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme also kicked off regionally in Whangarei in May 2021. A total of 20 scholars are set to graduate in October 2021, including 10 from Tai Tokerau.

“This is delivering a deep leadership cohort for the region, in effect adding two decades’ worth of Kellogg scholars to the region in just two years. On the course they also build great connections and networks, building a strong talent bench.”

Looking ahead to 2022, a prestigious Kellogg rural leadership programme will be run regionally in Whanganui, this is currently being developed with Whanganui + Partners

“We’re layering in the leaders, both Māori and European, capitalising on local investment to build an abundance of leaders in regional New Zealand.”

Another aspect of the Pāhautea Initiative is looking to capture the value being generated through leadership development in qualifications. With the Kellogg 45 cohort that started in June 2021, Rural Leaders, working alongside Lincoln and Massey, has been able to offer a post-graduate qualification, for which 20 scholars opted in.

Rural Leaders is also in the early stages of developing a National Centre of Excellence having completed the concept design and now working in building the fundamentals of the centre.

“We’re really privileged to have a national advisory committee to run things past, of which AGMARDT a key part and has been really helpful.”

With AGMARDT support Rural Leaders has also increased its connection and communications with alumni and scholars, helping share knowledge with a regular newsletter and the new ‘Ideas that Grow’ podcast, featuring Nuffield and Kellogg scholars.

Given the significant value being generated through Rural Leaders, in another initiative Rural Leaders has been undertaking a survey of its Nuffield and Kellogg alumni in partnership with Otago University to measure the gains of the programmes over decades of delivery.

“Our goal with this survey is to produce a peer reviewed report to show the world exactly what New Zealand is doing through food and fibres leadership to shape a better future.”

Chris says that 178 Nuffield scholars over 71 years have led in more than 2,400 senior leadership roles, with each scholar on average creating 3.3 businesses each employing on average 48 people.

“This is the level of value that AGMARDT has been contributing to over time and it’s making a huge difference to support thriving rural and regional communities.”

While COVID disrupted global travel for Nuffield Scholars in 2020 and 2021, Rural Leaders turned this into an opportunity delivering a nationwide industry insight tour programme. Off the back of that success, Rural Leaders will be working with Lincoln and Massey to offer a new value-chain innovation programme in 2022.

Another exciting initiative for 2022 is working with Lincoln, industry players and the Ministry for Primary Industries looking at how to build high-performance into businesses and how strategic leadership is part of that.

“We’re hugely grateful to AGMARDT’s vision and investment, which is allowing us to innovate and help build a better future for food and fibres in New Zealand.”