Whilst at the Society’s first ever Future Leaders course, we had the amazing opportunity to speak to a number of inspiring and keen participants. It was really refreshing to see participants of all different backgrounds coming together to learn and meet like-minded people.
One of our eager and inspiring young future leaders was Matthew Rollason. Matthew is 22 years old and hails from Bury, Lancashire, and is a passionate champion of UK agriculture, the beef industry and its youth. Without an Aberdeen-Angus background, Matthew’s participation and enthusiasm about the course highlights the breed’s aim to work to the overall industry’s benefit as well as our own breed. We spoke to Matthew on day one to find out about his background, his thoughts on the course and his aspirations for the future:
How do you feel the first day has gone?
“That’s the first time I’ve ever done anything like that and I can’t overstate how hugely beneficial it was! In agriculture, we’re sometimes quite insular, so coming to this event is a real breath of fresh air and gives us a completely different perspective on things.”
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
“I don’t come from a farming background, but I did start working on farms from a very young age. I worked on livestock farms across the North West of England, particularly with beef herds, where I developed an interest in Hereford cattle. I have recently graduated from Harper Adams University with a degree in BSc Agriculture with Animal Science, which included a successful placement year at Cogent Breeding. I am now Junior Representative of the North of England Hereford Breeders Association and have recently founded my own pedigree herd under the “New Dawn” prefix. I was also recently awarded Silver in the Agricultural Student of the Year category at the British Farming Awards. I have also been fortunate to be awarded a scholarship and graduate role with KellyBronze Turkeys in Essex, as well as a Harper Adams scholarship to attend the 28th Royal Agricultural Society of the Commonwealth conference in Canada in November, which I am really looking forward too!’’
What are your future aspirations?
“I want to work in the meat supply chain and eventually want to go in to policy making. I have a keen interest in UK politics and its influence on farming and in the future, I plan to become a proud ambassador of British agriculture.
‘’I’ve worked on different farms and in different sectors for most of my life, and I’ve seen that side of things, but agriculture is such a broad ranging industry and I want to experience more. I’ve also worked in the world of bovine genetics, but the next step for me is to go and look at the supply chain and food processing. I have always been really passionate about sustainable food production so I am exploring this area further.”
What were some highlights and key learnings from the day?
“I found it really beneficial that Andrew Johnson took us back to basics and broke down what both leadership and management actually was. It gave us a fresh look and perspective on things. He explored a topic that I didn’t fully understand because it wasn’t taught throughout my education. It was great to discuss what being a leader actually is. He was very inspiring and proved that anybody can be a leader and explained how we can all get there. He helped identify what type of leader we were and what skills we needed to go away and work on.”
Would you recommend the course to others?
“I can’t overstate how useful the course was. For anyone who has vision or ambition to be a leader in agriculture, I’d recommend this course without a doubt. You are able to look at leadership and management from a completely different perspective. The speakers were brilliant at highlighting the transferrable skills we possess and ones we need to go away and work on further. I found this event provided a unique platform for us to network and meet other like-minded young people. I think the Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society have done an amazing job hosting this course and felt it was really constructive that different breeds were coming together to exchange different views. It is much to the credit of the Aberdeen-Angus Society that they are actively investing in the future leaders of our great industry!’’
We would like to thank Matthew for taking the time to speak to us and we are so glad that he managed to learn new skills which he can take forward with him in his very bright career! We hope to speak to him in the not-so-distant future and hope he succeeds as a future leader of our industry!