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ARTICLES >> Livestock Articles

Fiona's leadership in the Pastoral Zone

Posted by Bestprac on Apr 06 2014

by Katie Fisher by Agrihort Communication

Fifth generation sheep and cattle producer, Fiona Warwick, believes she is blessed to be able to work in Australia’s pastoral industry. With that in mind, she is eager to constantly brush-up her leadership skills in order to take a strong and active role within her small local community in South Australia.

Fiona lives with her parents on a 96,000 acre pastoral sheep and cattle property – Holowiliena South Station, 60 kilometres east of Cradock in the Flinders Ranges.

The isolated property currently runs about 4,500 Merino sheep (of that about 2,700 breeding ewes) and has about 250 Hereford cattle.

Fiona Warwick left (Image courtesy of AWI 2014)Fiona returned to the property 12 months ago, after spending time travelling through the pastoral regions of Australia which included; the Pilbara – WA, Gulf – QLD, Western Districts – NSW and Channel Country – QLD, gaining experience in cattle and sheep work on stations when times were quiet and dry at home.

Fiona explains that the property’s pastoral zone is made-up of a very diverse range of producers, most of whom are fairly geographically isolated.

 “Due to being such a small group, I guess any major leadership role a member takes on is significant, as it gives us a voice,” she says.

“Be it leadership at the local race club, on the Pastoral Board, or someone like James Morgan (SA pastoralist) who has taken up a position on the AWI board; any form of leadership gives a community an avenue to express what’s important to them and what issues they are dealing with.”

Having this in mind, Fiona thinks there are a lot of people in the pastoral industry and her own local sector, which prefer not to get involved in leadership because they think the pressure is similar to that often faced by a company chief executive officer. “I believe leadership in the pastoral zone encompasses the running of the family farm and company stations through staff and people management, to co-ordinating the local camp-draft, to organising a fundraiser for the local RFDS clinic,” she explains.

“Put simply, leadership in the pastoral zone (outside of the major committees like the Pastoral Board and advisory boards like Bestprac, Natural Resource Management, AWI etc…) on a local scale is largely related to the running of your own individual businesses successfully and being community orientated.”

Fiona says that feeling the need to grow and foster her leadership skills, she attended the biannual Breeding Leadership course (sponsored by AWI, FFN and ANZ) program with the core objective to learn how industry intends to develop the future of the wool industry through mentoring and developing its young people.

“The week was rounded out by putting the fundamental principles together in the seemingly inevitable and universal farming discussion about succession planning, with the notion that building an action plan for the future can never start too early,” she says.

Fiona Warwick centre (image courtesy of AWI)While the topics were generic, Fiona says that by gaining new insights into the topics she developed a refreshed, enthused and broader perspective; in turn equipping her with ways to become a better leader, community member and business operator.

“To take home the notion of reviewing our old strategic plan and re-organising some of the responsibilities within our business with some third party assistance, I think will lead to a more efficient business operation and better quality of life,” she adds enthusiastically.

Of the development skills, Fiona explains that the interactive session on personality typing was most noteworthy. “It lead into improving our understanding of people management, motivation and getting the most out of the others.”

But aside from the direct classroom learning and experiences, the greatest outcome from the week for Fiona was the ability to network with “…other like-minded and passionate young people from the industry”. 

“Our diverse congregation and experiences lead to some enlightening discussions.

“I’ll openly admit attending such a course was far outside of my comfort zone, but I am glad I made the effort. You can’t see what your missing if you’re walking around with your eyes down.

“I urge young producers in the wool industry to consider Breeding Leadership 2016.”

 

Last changed: Apr 07 2014

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