Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Big Wig 2012 v2

Big Wig Day is when we
take our elected Board members
add in our Regional Chairs
and mix with inspirational leaders from the agricultural sector
and let them sit together for about six hours
and the end result is 
young farmers who get a better idea of
how to lead NZYF,
see where someone has gone before them,
figure out there are massive opportunities beyond the farm gate,
start thinking about where those opportunities might take them.

Jason Te Brake, Anne Munro B+LNZ, Cole Groves, Lisa Chapman, Paul Olsen,
Vanessa Hore, Cam Lewis, Kerri Moore, Scotty Heasly,
and NZYF CEO Richie Fitzgerald
at our September 2012 Big Wig Day.

Where we want these ideas to take our Young Farmers
is to the board rooms of our agricultural businesses
and industry good groups.

Already there are many aged out Young Farmers
on many rural boards.
There is hardly place I go without someone 
coming up to me to reminise about their time in Young Farmers.

Whether it's the Minister of Finance or an ex-Chair of Fonterra,
aged out Young Farmers are everywhere.

Here's why, it's simple....

we grow leaders.

While farmers spend their days 
growing crops,
calving and milking,
lambing and mustering
I spend my days talent scouting,
encouraging, supporting, suggesting,
critiquing, developing, pushing, dragging, letting alone,
 and growing young leaders not just for 
Young Farmers 
but also for the industry.

As a prelude to our National Committee meeting
we hold a Big Wig Day.
We invite industry leaders to speak.
Who that is is often dependent on where we are for this day.

This time we were in Dunedin.
ANZ kindly donated a board room for a day
and we invited
Eion Garden, Chair of Silver Fern Farms and
Anne Munro, an elected farmer Director of Beef+LambNZ.

Both were great in very different ways.
Eion with his wealth of experience both as a farmer
and volunteer and as a director and chair of large ag organisations.
Anne with her fresh and determined, why not attitude explaining
that governance experience comes from all leadership opportunities
whether it's as chair of Pony Club, A&P Shows or on a PTA.

I was interested in Anne's answer to the low numbers of women on boards.
A malady in most countries,
even in Norway where it is law to have boards comprised
of at least 40% females.
Like me, Anne is not a fan of affirmative action and
her response was that she felt she was a person on the board
not any different from the men,
and wasn't in her experience treated any differently.

I was reading the 2006 Young Farmers New Members handbook today.
In 2006 all our Regional Chairs where women.
In 2012 of seven, we have two women.
On our board of eight, three are women.

None of us see ourselves as needing affirmative action.
We are there because we have the skills, the knowledge and,
most importantly the confidence to sit at any board table with anyone.

Affirmative action is requested by city folk who don't live in communities
where we have to get on,
have to accept each others foibles and differences,
and have to pull together to get the job done.
That's where I live.
The place where I give my talents and others give theirs
and together we accomplish what we need to
to benefit everyone in our communities,
without fanfare.

That's the type of leaders we choose for our Young Farmer leaders
to meet and learn from because
that's the people we want to them to become.
Accepting of others,
accommodating and determined team players
who are there because they have something of value to contribute.   

'Cause that's how we roll in Young Farmers.

I'm going to have a lie down now.

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