August 10, 2012
Jan Manson from Omakau in New Zealand's South Island has been announced as the winner of the 2012 Rabobank Business Development Award for her project to reposition her farming operation for future expansion.
Mrs Manson was presented with the prestigious award at the Executive Development Program graduation dinner, which celebrated the latest business management thinking in agriculture. This year, 29 of Australia and New Zealand's leading primary producers completed the Program, which is designed to equip farmers with the commercial management skills to grow and develop their business.
The graduation dinner also marked the final program under the leadership of Dr John Morris. Dr Morris has been integrally involved in the Executive Development Program since its conception in 1999, as the program director of all 15 courses, which over 450 farmers from across Australia and New Zealand have now completed. To signify his contribution, the Business Development Award for best project was renamed the Dr John Morris award, with Mrs Manson the first recipient of this newly named honour.
Mrs Manson said her project focused on identifying and analysing a range of potential opportunities to grow her family business, Inverdeen Farms Ltd, sustainably into the future.
"Before attending the Executive Development Program we were at the crossroads, weighing up our options to either sell the property and exit the industry or reposition ourselves for future growth," she said.
"Once we had made the decision to continue and grow our business, attending the Program was a very conscious business decision, to equip us with the skills and confidence to transition our business into the future."
Mrs Manson together with her husband Andrew own and operate 380 hectares, leasing a further 655 hectares in Central Otago. Their core business is winter grazing of around 5,000 dairy cows, which they run on fodder beet – a high yielding crop under pivot irrigation. To compliment their operation, they supply 300 service bulls to the dairy industry, as well as bull beef and beef stock finishing.
The Manson's began farming in 1997, building up their operation by leasing land in various locations in the lower South Island, and strategically purchasing and selling properties.
"We have always had to do things a little differently to grow and expand our business. However, we knew that to take the business to the next level, we needed to invest in our communication skills and take a more calculated approach when developing and implementing our strategy."
Mrs Manson said that during the program she soon realised that their farming operation had the potential to be as successful as any other business that was represented in the Program classroom, but the limiting factor was their human capital.
"Hearing the real-life case studies from progressive farmers showed that the success of the business ultimately comes down to the key individuals who run it," she said.
"It is about understanding yourself, and what motivates and drives you to make decisions. For me, it is not only how I interact with my husband to jointly manage our operation, but how I interact with everyone involved in the hierarchy of the business."
Mrs Manson said that understanding her and Andrew's individual personality traits and then focusing on these respective strengths to foster beneficial working relationships has given their business the solid framework to implement their business plan.
"To grow our business, we have closely analysed four potential opportunities using the 'three horizon growth model'. While we analysed the profitability and rate of equity growth of each option, it was equally important to see how each of these matched our personal strengths and weaknesses and also to be consistent with our values," Mrs Manson said.
"Our resulting business strategy is to sell some land, and convert the remaining area to dairy. Dairy will become our core business, and we now have the right structure and plan in place to develop and expand our business into the future."
The Rabobank Executive Development program is run annually, spanning two modules held a year apart. Imparting the latest management thinking in leadership, human resources, value chain management and marketing, it focuses on strategies to drive the business forward. To encourage participants to directly apply the management theories into their own business, a core component of the program is the self-designed management project the participants undertake between the two modules.
Mrs Manson said that by the end of the Program, she could clearly see the process in front of them.
"We now have the confidence to keep things simple, and know that it will be our approach and attitude that will define the success of our business," she said.
Rabobank business programs manager Nerida Sweetapple said the management project showed how Mrs Manson had applied the learning's into her own business with tangible results.
"Jan's project was particularly inspiring as she had applied many valuable learning's from the Program to develop and implement her strategies to ensure the sustainable growth of her business," she said.
Ms Sweetapple also acknowledged the two Australian runners up, Ash Wiese from Narrogin in Western Australia whose project focused on his developing Quinoa business and Matthew Ipsen from Wareek, Victoria and his management principles for the future growth of his sheep scanning business.
Rabobank Australia & New Zealand is a part of the international Rabobank Group, the world's leading specialist in food and agribusiness banking. Rabobank has more than 110 years' experience providing customised banking and finance solutions to businesses involved in all aspects of food and agribusiness. Rabobank is structured as a cooperative and operates in 48 countries, servicing the needs of more than nine million clients worldwide through a network of more than 1600 offices and branches. Rabobank Australia & New Zealand is one of Australasia's leading rural lenders and a significant provider of business and corporate banking and financial services to the region's food and agribusiness sector. The bank has 93 branches throughout Australia and New Zealand.
Rabobank Australia & New Zealand
Phone: +61 2 8115 2744 or +61 439 603 525
Rabobank Australia & New Zealand
Phone: 0419 502 859