Monday, 16 March 2020 10:11

Wow factor from European tour

Written by  Peter Burke
Hamish Gow. Hamish Gow.

A group of emerging horticultural leaders who have recently returned from an executive study tour in Europe say it’s been eye opening, amazing and life changing in terms of their careers.

The trip was the brainchild of Hamish Gow, Professor of Agribusiness at Massey Business School and Erin Simpson, Capability Development Manager at NZ Apples and Pears. The 19 person group visited a wide range of leading horticultural companies and businesses in The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.

Gow says they had run a similar undergraduate version to Europe and Asia, but he and Simpson decided that there was a need for an ‘executive level’ study tour. They got the support from hort industry bosses and Agmardt in late November and pulled the trip together in a matter of just a month or so.

“We took a deep breath and said we can do this. So often in this country there is a lot of talk – this was about doing something,” Gow told Hort News.

He says they called for applicants and got a surprisingly large number. The aim was to bring together a diverse group of emerging leaders, from all parts of the value chain, and people with different roles and responsibilities in the sector. Gow says they ranged from scientists, business managers, orchardists, government officials, as well as technical and communications advisors.

“The idea was to expose these emerging leaders to selected international markets, key horticultural values chains and innovation ecosystems – such as Signify’s vertical horticulture initiative and Koppert Biological Systems for biological pest control,” Gow explained. 

“We had a theme which related to collaborative innovation and capacity building – because this is what the industry needs in NZ.” 

The trip was not a freebie by any stretch of the imagination.  Participants had to pay their airfares and travel and a $2000 programme fee. They also had to cover most of their meals while they were on the trip. Gow says they also very worked long days.

“Sixteen hour days were more the norm, than exception, and there no weekends off,” he told Hort News. But this helped bring people together as they discussed and reflected on their respective experiences and insights each day on the bus. 

“It was life changing experience for them individually and the daily reflection process ensured that they collectively pulled out the critical insights for the NZ horticultural sector.” 

NZ officials, including our ambassador to the Netherlands, Greg Andrews spent two days with the group. 

They had a special half-day session in Brussels, where they were briefed on Brexit and progress on NZ’s FTA with the European Union. They also attended a major trade fair in Berlin – Fruit Logistica – where both Zespri and T&G Global made several major announcements about their future strategies.

Gow says every day the group were exposed to new innovative and exciting horticultural developments and met some of the top thinkers and leaders in Europe. They visited a wide range of research institutes and entities such as the World Horti Centre, near Rotterdam; Wageningen University and Research; and the House of Food in western Flanders.

“They also went to Foodvalley, a world class innovative agrifood establishment – often referred to as the ‘silicon valley’ for food – in the Netherlands. 

We also visited the port of Zeebrugge where Zespri is building new facilities.” 

Gow says a key learning from visiting the various companies and institutes was the positive level of trust and collaboration between them – even competitors. He says the trust was associated with a very clear sense of purpose that they all had and it was something that NZ could learn from.

“As a senior Unilever employee noted everything should have a purpose – brands, companies, and people,” Gow explained. 

“Companies with purpose last longer, brands with purpose grow and people with purpose thrive. For me, that was one of the most important insights of the whole programme.” 

More like this

Attracting more ag students

The numbers of students taking up agricultural degrees at Massey University is not really increasing, according to Professor Peter Kemp – head of the School of Agriculture and Environment at Massey.

Demand for better water quality grows

Public attitudes on environmental issues are driving policy, according to the director of the Farmed Landscapes Research Centre (FLRC) at Massey University.

Pork industry scholarships available

Massey University students looking to fund their studies in the pork industry have until March 10 to apply for up to four New Zealand Pork Industry Board scholarships.

Featured

 

Change of tune needed

OPINION: It has been some weeks since we have had to face the ideological rhetoric, in any quantity, that has pervaded our lives for much of the last three years – and I haven’t missed it one bit!

Farmers adapt well to new sales model

Fonterra’s rural service subsidiary, Farm Source says farmer shareholders are adapting well to its new trading model under COVID-19 restrictions. 

» The RNG Weather Report

» Latest Print Issues Online

The Hound

Flying high

This old mutt would like to know how the sanctimonious Green Party and its MPs can continue to lecture everyone…

Put it down

Your canine crusader notes that the woke folk at Landcorp – sorry Pāmu – were recently crowing about recording a…

» eNewsletter

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter