Australian Future Cotton Leaders program

The 2018 Future Cotton Leaders meet in Moree in late June. Photo: Cotton Australia
The 2018 Future Cotton Leaders meet in Moree in late June. Photo: Cotton Australia

Sam Simons and Nicholas Beer have come back from their first Future Cotton Leaders meeting with plenty of fresh ideas.

The pair were among 16 of this year’s Cotton Leaders who attended the meeting in Moree in late June, with a focus on leadership development techniques, project planning and different personality styles. There were also presentations from Cotton Australia chief executive officer Adam Kay, and Cotton Research and Development Corporation executive director Bruce Finney.

Nicholas Beer said it was great to hear from the two industry leaders. He manages Merrilong Pastoral at Spring Ridge and is chair of the Upper Namoi Cotton Growers Association. 

Everyone has their own unique story about why they were doing the course and what they wanted to achieve.

Nicholas Beer

Mr Beer was particularly impressed by speaker Dick Easton who is a cotton grower and orange farmer and employs Aboriginal staff in a cafe in Moree.

“He was very interesting, his story, how he started with very little and was keen to exceed, and basically, he said the people who are following you need to be able to trust you and you need to be able to trust them to succeed, and that’s a big part of the course, the leadership aspect,” Mr Beer said.

“He also said another thing is a good leader will look at people’s weak points and try and strengthen them.”

The Cotton Leaders also left the classroom behind for a number of excursions to Auscott Moree, Stahmann Farms’ pecan nut plantation and Gwydir Valley Irrigators Association where they had a look around and learnt about how the businesses are run.

The Cotton Leaders on an excursion. Photo: Cotton Australia

The Cotton Leaders on an excursion. Photo: Cotton Australia

Mr Beer said it was good to meet the other 14 Future Cotton Leaders.

“Everyone has their own unique story about why they were doing the course and what they wanted to achieve,” he said.

“Whether they were a grower or a merchant, and they all want to create some good contacts throughout the country industry.”

As part of the leadership program, the participants are required to develop and implement a small leadership project, which mutually benefits both the individual and the cotton industry. Mr Beer will focus on the succession plan of the Upper Namoi Cotton Growers Association and recently had a one-on-one interview to get his project plan in place.

“It’s getting the young generation involved to be able to learn off the more experienced growers and industry leaders because within our Cotton Growers Association we’ve got quite broad range of growers and personalities and some quite interesting people in there,” he said.

I thought one of the most interesting things was trying to understand yourself and how you interact with people.

Sam Simons

Liverpool Plains agronomist Sam Simons said the Cotton Leaders meeting was well worth attending and “it was good to put faces to the names”.

Mr Simons said it was good to learn from the experience of industry leaders, particularly Peter Birch.

“It was good to assess the different ways that people interact with each other and focus on how people present themselves to staff,” he said.

“A lot of the successful businesses have people that are very good leaders and a few of them have actually done this Cotton Leaders course and to see where they ended up has been quite impressive.

“It sort of indicates that this whole project is going to be worthwhile.”

Nick Beer (back, second from left) is one of the 16 participants. Photo: Cotton Australia

Nick Beer (back, second from left) is one of the 16 participants. Photo: Cotton Australia

Mr Simons said former program participants also came along to a group dinner and chatted to this year’s participants about “where they’ve ended up and what they’ve learnt”.

They all had their little take-home message about what they've developed through their career,” he said.

The agronomist also found himself doing some self-reflection.

“I thought one of the most interesting things was trying to understand yourself and how you interact with people and working on different techniques to tailor it to the audience you’re speaking to,” he said.

Mr Simons will continue working on his leadership project, which is focused on helping people build skills and contacts to help develop leadership skills to get started in their chosen agricultural field.

The Future Cotton Leaders will meet again at the Australian Cotton Conference in August.

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