Progressive farmers urged to apply for Rabobank Business Management Programs – 2020 intake now open
More than 1200 of Australia and New Zealand’s most progressive farmers have graduated from Rabobank’s Business Management Programs over the past two decades. And this year more will join their ranks, with applications now open for the 2020 intake.
Tailored for farmers at different stages in their career, two programs are offered – the Executive Development Program (EDP) for farm business owners or senior managers, while the Farm Managers Program (FMP) has been developed for up-and-coming farmers looking to enhance their management capabilities.
Announcing the opening of applications for both programs, Rabobank Australia CEO Peter Knoblanche said with many of the nation’s farmers continuing to grapple with the impacts of variable climatic conditions, it was even more vital to remain focused on the big picture and have plans in place for the longer-term viability of the business.
“At a time when many farm businesses have had to manage through drought for such an extended period, it has never been so important to step back for a few days from the day-to-day operational-side of the business to reboot the mindset and develop strategies around re-building the business, when conditions allow, to ensure the business remains resilient longer-term,” he said.
“Surrounding yourself with like-minded people is also key,” Mr Knoblanche said, “to hear how others have thought outside the square and their learnings along the way. As some of the best ideas come through adversity when we are challenged to look beyond the status quo.”
For Jen Jeffreys, the Executive Development Program has been “extremely helpful in maintaining focus given the tumultuous drought period we’ve just experienced”.
Ms Jeffreys lives with her young family near Delegate on the border of New South Wales and Victoria, but manages Norland Pastoral alongside her father and their committed team based at Weebollabolla and Boonal in northern New South Wales.
“For our business that has been steeped in history and tradition, the next generations’ management style will be a more modern approach,” she explains, as the business structures a new management approach with their father.
Transitioning the management of the company from the fourth to fifth generation, together with her three sisters, Ms Jeffreys said “how and what we do has to come under intense scrutiny in order to survive”.
She and her three siblings have “all maintained links to agriculture”, she said, “whether it’s doing a season up north, meat trading, completing quarterly BAS for the husband’s farm or working in fields such as agribusiness banking, ag tech startups, commodity trading or human resource management.”
And it is their background in agriculture, she said, that ensures they are “all able to contribute and learn from each other to succeed as an Australian agricultural family farming team”.
Completing the first module of the Executive Development Program in August last year, and scheduled to graduate from the program this July, Ms Jeffreys said the program had “greatly helped ensure we’ve got all bases covered now and into the future”.
“The course covers every facet of agribusiness today,” she said, “disseminating the latest information, with industry professionals on-hand to deliver and answer any questions that arise.” With topics covered in the program including strategies for growth, financial and risk management, negotiation, sustainability and innovation.
“The 2019/2020 cohort has a fantastic cross-section of different agricultural industries, with people at various stages of their careers and companies and together these aspects have allowed considered refection and question as to how our own business is tracking,” she said.
With numbers on each course limited to maintain group dynamics, positions are highly sought after. Applications for the FMP close on Friday, March 27 and the EDP on Friday, April 24.
This year, the Farm Managers Program will be held in Christchurch, New Zealand from June 21 to 26, while the Executive Development Program – which runs as two modules conducted a year apart – will be held in the Hawkesbury Valley, Sydney from August 16 to 21, with the second module scheduled for July 2021.