Advancing Beef Leaders update

happy ladies in a paddock
Members of the North West Queensland Advancing Beef Leaders Group, Rachel Hoolihan (participant) and Megan Munchenberg (DAF coordinator).

In 2019, Senior Extension Officer, Alison Larard, with the help of private sector partners, set out to develop a program to assist younger members of the northern beef industry. The intent of the program was to enhance skills and interpersonal development of industry members, providing them with the confidence needed to participate in committees and sit on boards.

“Those of us already sitting on boards and committees have long been concerned about the succession options in our organisations and how few skilled and interested people are coming through,” said Alison. “So, after many discussions with like-minded people, private sector trainers and industry representatives, Advancing Beef Leaders (ABL) developed.”

“ABL is as much a professional development program for producers and agribusinesses, as we are an industry leadership program,” continued Alison. “We refer to our program as ‘developing capable, confident, connected beef professionals who understand the issues and future direction of the industry.’ The pilot group ran in 2020/21, and thanks to the fantastic enthusiasm from group members, we expanded the alumni to accommodate groups in two additional locations. The results of ABL so far have been remarkable, with four participants taking on senior beef industry leadership roles, three winning nationally recognised awards (including Sam Fryer recently named 2021 Cattle Council NAB Agribusiness Rising Champion), and a number joining their local Beef Research Committee, NRM board or a community organisation.”

Module one of six completed ― Understanding self and others

The current ABL groups have both recently completed their ‘Understanding Self and Others’ module with Jill Rigney, from The Right Mind. ‘Understanding self and others’ is a core ABL component enabling participants to gain the self-awareness that is essential for leadership.

Feedback from the sessions with Jill have been positive with one group member commenting that despite COVID-19 impacting the delivery of the module (online instead of in-person), “Jill was amazing, and I feel we could have had another whole module with her.”

Another group member mentioned that “these sessions have really helped me identify and acknowledge that there is so much more I have to learn. I’m going to spend additional time now going back over the recordings as I feel like I have just touched the tip of the iceberg for learning about myself and how I can better work with my family in the business.”

Mentoring by respected leaders of industry

The Meridian Agriculture facilitated mentoring component of the program recently began with an online “speed dating” session, enabling mentors to meet with, and be selected by, ABL participants. Highly successful industry leaders including Georgie Somerset, Dr Beth Woods, Angus Street, Brigid Price, Brett Christie, Scott Glyde, Robyn Bryant, Paul Holm, Peter Mahony, Sally Murphet, Mick Taylor, Jess Bidgood, Rick Britton, Amy and Richard Holcombe, and Melanie and Rob Leather, have generously donated their own time to act in this role for the current ABL groups.

Mentors will work with their mentees providing support as participants begin their own leadership journeys.

“The value of the mentoring component of ABL has been confirmed by the return of four of last year’s pilot group members – Jayne Cuddihy, Sam Fryer, Peter Chiesa and Samantha Cobb – to mentor this years’ participants,” said project leader, Alison Larard.

Spheres of influence

The Central Queensland and North West Queensland ABL groups have recently completed their next module of the program, ‘Spheres of Influence’, whereby participants hear from current industry leaders including Jason Strong (Managing Director, Meat & Livestock Australia), Georgie Somerset (General President, Agforce), Travis Tobin (Chief Executive Officer, Cattle Council Australia), John Taylor (Chair, North Australia Beef Research Council), and Bob Karfs (Science Director, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries).

This module has been developed to provide an opportunity to understand the national and state-based organisations relevant to the northern beef industry, and how as beef producers, they can interact with each organisation.

Already, participants have highlighted how initially they thought of the leaders as, “just representatives of their various organisations, but by the end of the sessions could see the personal side of their individual leadership journeys.”

Opening doors to R&D involvement and leadership pathways

Another objective of the ABL program is to encourage participants to become involved with, and contribute to, research and adoption of improved practices and technologies.

North West Queensland group member, Rob Chaplain, recently partnered with the Southern Gulf E-Beef project to host a paddock walk on his property “Wynberg Station”. Local extension officer, Megan Munchenberg, undertook much of the organisation of the day, with attendees gaining valuable pasture management insights from herself, Bob Shepherd, Lindsey Perry and Kieran Smith.

What’s next?

We aim to continue to grow the program across Queensland and develop groups in other regions. Notification will be provided in upcoming eBulletins when application opportunities are opened. Watch this space!