Future Leaders: a great kick-off event in our new initiative aimed at shaping the industry’s future

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31 October 2018

The highly anticipated Future Leaders Course kicked off on the 9th and 10th of October with participants from all different backgrounds and stages of life coming together to learn and develop their leadership and management skills! The course was heavily subsidised by the Society and gave the amazing opportunity for youngsters to learn from industry experts and experienced leaders. The course took place in Garstang, Lancashire.

Gayle Bersey, the Youth Development Programme Co-ordinator noted the following from the first 2 days:

“Everyone that took part exceeded my expectations. It was great to have 11 participants that are so enthusiastic and passionate about the industry and I hope that we are fuelling their passion before they get bogged down by the everyday stresses of farming life. Working with these young people was extremely inspiring!”

President of the Society, Angela McGregor added the following:

“The young guys on the course were all open to learning, and I am sure they will all get something different out of the course as well as some pointers to take forward into any business. They all brought their own unselfish approach to the beef industry and a desire to drive forward either in the public domain or at home, all of which adds to UK business. Each one has so much to offer, perhaps more than they realise. This course is an investment not only in developing them but also the future of the beef and meat industry.”

One of the amazing speakers who hosted the Leadership and Management module was Andrew Johnson, the Managing Director of From the Front Consultancy Ltd. Andrew has an extensive background in the world of Leadership and Management and he shares with us his background and experience below:

Tell us a bit about your background?

“I joined the army at the age of 16 as a Junior Leader, a programme offering which has now changed to the army foundation college at Harrogate. It is essentially an apprenticeship run by the military where not only do you train to be a soldier, but you also train to be a leader. By the time you are 18 you are fully operational and are looking to be promoted. The whole idea of the programme is that it helps develop the future leaders of the army.

‘’After serving for 24 years, taking on many leadership roles and managing hundreds of soldiers, I decided to retire. After taking on different roles within the civilian world and experiencing less than desirable practice I came to the realisation that leadership and managing was my passion, and people deserve to have great managers and leaders with integrity and strong values. This then led to me starting From the Front Consultancy. After starting the company, I soon realised that I needed the business acumen to go with my leadership skills. I then completed an MBA at Staffordshire University in Business which was sponsored by the military. The course was full of ex-military and allowed us to transfer our leadership and management skills in to the civilian world.

‘’Instantly, I seen the effect it had on the business. Now that I could speak the language and had the business acumen behind me, my business improved. I am now running the Business and Human Resource Management degree at the Anglia Ruskin University London whilst teaching leadership on masters courses, and also running my own company. In a way, I have found my natural place in life by accident, it has all fallen in to place!’’

How is this leadership course beneficial to the participants/future leaders in the agricultural industry?

“The course is hugely beneficial for the participants and best equips them for their bright futures!

‘’Like many industries, agriculture is going through so much change. Change is one of those things that can’t be avoided whether that be climate change, social change, legislative change, it all happens in the external environment and in this modern world you must be able to adapt to it.

‘’Traditionally, farmers are taught to farm and are not trained to run a business or to lead workforces in very demanding situations. Agricultural work is typically very demanding, and it is physically and emotionally very hard work. You need to be able to equip people to be successful in that type of environment. A farm is a business at the end of the day! You can’t manage all of the workload on your own, you need people to help you therefore you need the right management and leadership skills to succeed.

‘’Farm owners tend to put themselves through hardship to ensure their farms are successful because their entire futures are tied up in it. Whereas a locally hired worker will probably not have the same attachment, so there has to be leadership involved in order to get the best out of your people. In the modern world, you need to understand the modern demands on them, therefore you need the skills for that.”

What’s your main advice for the participants?

“The world is changing now faster than ever before, social attitudes are changing, technology is changing, if you don’t change with it then you will get left behind. If you look at the large high street retailers who have gone into administration in recent years, they have all failed to adapt and keep up with change!

‘’If you can’t satisfy people’s expectations on ethical farming, can’t keep up with legislation or can’t get your strategy right, then you are not going to be very successful. You’ve got to understand change and be able to do something about it proactively, as opposed to letting change happen to you. You’ve got to be prepared to think outside the box and be able to embrace other people’s ideas.”

We would like to thank Andrew for taking the time to share his invaluable experience and thoughts on this new Society and industry initiative, and are sure all the keen participants managed to take away some valuable information with them. We look forward to bringing you more updates when the second half of the course returns on the 13th and 14th of November!