Twenty-five passionate rural leaders are set to embark on their director journeys


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An agtech incubator, a precision weed control scientist, an insect farmer and a logistics officer from the Air Force who now tracks soil health. These are just some of the 25 passionate rural leaders who have been selected to complete the Australian Institute of Company Director’s Foundations of Directorship program.

The career-heightening opportunity was unveiled last month under the AgriFutures™ Ignite Network. The Network is a program to connect passionate rural leaders. Participants have a strong interest in shaping the future of Australian rural industries and are responsible for igniting the passion, revitalising the industry and introducing and encouraging the changes to make it happen.

AgriFutures Australia Managing Director, John Harvey said this golden-nugget opportunity is just one of the ways the organisation is working to develop the leadership skills of young people in our rural industries.

“Ignite Network members influence, they make change and they ignite new ideas into our agriculture sector. We want these people to be on boards, panels and in executive positions but we need to give them the key skills to help them on this journey. The AICD program builds the foundations of these important skills,” said Mr Harvey.

The AICD Foundations of Directorship program provides a comprehensive overview of the main components of directorship including governance, finance, strategy and risk. Participants will learn how to interpret financial statements, identify key causes of strategic risk and how those risks can best be treated and build their knowledge on effective decisions that will minimise personal risk and maximise contribution.

Ignite Network member Sam Duncan is one of the successful applicants. Relatively new to our agricultural industry, Mr Duncan was a Logistics Officer in the Air Force before he founded FarmLab, an agtech business helping farmers and agronomists sustainably manage their soil.

“As one of the Directors of a growing agribusiness, I have had little exposure to being on a board, in particular the governance and administration requirements that are associated with it.

“Moving forward, improving my understanding around governance is crucial – particularly in ensuring our processes and structure are correct prior to the growth of the business.

“I’m looking forward to networking with other emerging leaders in the industry. I have relatively few contacts in the agricultural community, so I’m extremely keen to expand my networks where possible,” said Mr Duncan.

Another successful applicant, Jade Miles, farmer and Founding President of the Beechworth Food Co-Op, hopes the skills she learns will help her continue to support initiatives to grow the development of vibrant local food systems across our regional communities – which she believes are desperate for ways to reconnect, rebuild and revitalise.

“I have previously explored opportunities to sit on advisory panels and boards within the agriculture sector, but despite being a strong candidate and having a passion for agriculture, I have not been successful with these applications due to a lack of formal training and experience in corporate governance / director responsibilities. I’m looking forward to taking part in the three day Foundations of Directorship program as I believe it will help me overcome this barrier and enable me to use my skills and experience to give back to the industry,” said Ms Miles.

AICD Foundations of Directorship program applicants:

  • Darren Hughes, Canning Vale, WA, CEO and Managing Director, Laconik
  • William Taing, Brunswick, VIC, Director, Beanstalk AgTech
  • Leesa Chen, Carlton, VIC, Export Sales – Subject Matter Expert, Bega Cheese
  • Rachel Nicoll, Hampton, NSW, Managing Partner, A.D & R.L Nicoll
  • Cate Yates, Griffith, NSW, Business Manager, Flow Smart Pty Ltd
  • Oliver Le Lievre, Barwon Heads, VIC, Business Development Manager, Aglive Pty Ltd
  • Nicole McDonald, Preston, VIC, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Southern Queensland
  • Nell Sullivan, Molong, NSW, Business Support Specialist, Suncorp Bank
  • Guy Coleman, Narrabri, NSW, Precision Weed Control Scientist, University of Sydney
  • Richard Kohne, Wembley Downs, WA, M&A Manager, Mareterran
  • Hayley Purbrick, Wandook, NSW, Business Improvement, Digital and Environment Manager, Tahbilk
  • Amanda Abou Rjeily, Noranda, WA, Director, Grubs Up Australia Pty Ltd
  • Michael Christie, Surry Hills, NSW, Patent Attorney, K&L Gates
  • Stephanie Wurst, Cassini, SA, Owner/Manager, Kukakunga Farming
  • Karina Dambergs, Deloraine, TAS, Co-Founder, Edward & Edward Tasmanian Distillers
  • Grace Calder, Creswick North, VIC, Lamb Industry Development Officer, Agriculture Victoria
  • Airlie Landale, Deniliquin, NSW, Founder and Managing Director, Farm Table Australia
  • Melissa Neal, Barton, ACT, Industry Leadership Manager, Sheep Producers Australia
  • Kari Moffat, Berry Springs, NT, Compliance and Animal Welfare Manager, Wellard Rural Exports
  • Sam Duncan, Armidale, NSW, CEO, FarmLab
  • Chloe Kempe, Ferny Hills, QLD, Operations Manager/R&D Project Officer, Agrimix Pastures Pty Ltd
  • Shane Francis, Biarra, QLD, Chief Operating Officer, Brisbane Valley Protein
  • Jade Miles, Stanley, VIC, Farmer, Black Barn Farm
  • Mitch Highett, Canobolas, NSW, Managing Director, Bulls Eye AG
  • Tony Larkman, Laidley, QLD, CEO, ATTIA Ltd

The three-day program will be held in Sydney from 21-23 May 2019.

To stay connected with future AgriFutures™ Ignite Network opportunities, and to connect with passionate rural leaders across Australia, join the AgriFutures™ Ignite Facebook group.

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