Opportunity for personal growth as well as business growth
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Opportunity for personal growth as well as business growth – Marie Fowler

Category Business Management Programs

Marie Fowler

For Western Australian producer Marie Fowler, participating in Rabobank’s Executive Development Program (EDP) was as much an opportunity for personal growth as it was for business growth.

While the highly capable Irish-native is actively engaged in the running of the Fowler family’s 29,000 hectare cropping and grazing operation in the East Condingup region, raising four young children had, to an extent, limited her capacity.

However, well-aware of the significance of the course – husband Andrew is a past graduate – Marie grabbed the chance to join the 2018/19 cohort.

Opting against preparing a traditional business plan during the course, Marie used the opportunity to create a succession plan, looking at options surrounding the third generation of Fowler’s, and what their potential integrated into the business may look like in the future.

“The ‘cousin-coalition’ as we like to call it is still young, the eldest cousin just 17, but the course gave us a platform to start the discussion and begin to identify who within the family is showing interest and what future pathways within the business may look like,” Marie said.

Without putting undue pressure on the next generation, it also provided a yardstick for growth.

“As a family business everyone enjoys being challenged and growing the operation, but identifying future interest becomes a further motivating factor for growth,” she said.

The plan also started conversations identifying future risks and opportunities, and was embraced as a starting point for conversation by the family.   

And having spent years prioritising the needs of her children, the course also provided Marie with the personal development she craved, whilst providing a boost of renewed confidence and enthusiasm. 

“The Executive Development Program was something I’d always wanted to do, yet the timing was never quite right,” she said. “Although Andrew had already graduated I felt it was really valuable for me to do it on my own after so many years of wearing my ‘mum’ hat.”

Marie Fowler

Positive and self-assured, Marie laughs that people who know her would think it funny that she’d need any more confidence, but she believes the opportunity to really study the business provided enormous business self-confidence.

“The greatest benefit of the course for me has been the deep understanding I now have of our business.”

“I felt I had to do a lot of homework prior to the course so I could get the most out of it – I wanted to be able to know our numbers and speak with confidence on our farm business, so it really forced me to study all aspects of the operation.”

Whilst her role on the farm traditionally revolved around data entry and preparation of the business activity statement, Marie’s interests have broadened thanks to the course, to the point she now feels encouraged to analyse the business more thoroughly.

“I’m now in the habit of analysing our figures and running budget to better understand where we’re at and why,” she said.

The opportunity to network with like-minded producers was a further motivating factor behind Marie’s decision to partake in the EDP, and she was certainly not left wanting.

“Everyone who attends this course is there to learn – and perhaps the fact that they have sought out this opportunity suggests that these are producers who are already steps ahead of the pack,” she said. “Much of the relationship development was fast-tracked simply by the fact we very quickly felt that we were in a safe environment, and instantly comfortable discussing our farm businesses and sharing our thoughts.”

Whilst the succession plan facilitated important conversations, Marie believes the networking, and the confidence and knowledge she gained was her real ‘take-away’ from the course.

“I feel like I have such a better understanding of our figures and business structure, and it’s so empowering – and exciting – to be even more engaged in the business, working alongside my husband, and perhaps one day our children, in an industry we’re all passionate about.”

To find out more about the Rabobank Business Management Programs click here

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