Agribusiness forum in Queenstown

Two international agribusiness experts will lead an inaugural agribusiness symposium in Queenstown next year.

The symposium, from March 19 to 22, is being hosted by AbacusBio Ltd, a Dunedin-based agribusiness consulting and new ventures company.

Earlier this year, AbacusBio senior consultants Dr Anna Campbell and Dr Peter Fennessy attended two international agribusiness symposiums - the Harvard agribusiness executive seminar in Shanghai and Alltech agribusiness summit in Kentucky.

Both were enthusiastic about their experiences and wanted others in the Asia-Pacific to share in the "inspiration, knowledge and network creation" they gained, so they established a programme with the same style of learning to be held in New Zealand.

The symposium will be led by Mary Shelman, director of Harvard Business School's agribusiness programme, and Prof Damien McLoughlin, professor of marketing and associate dean at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School in Ireland.

It will use a case study approach with real agribusiness scenarios. The case studies were selected to focus on a range of areas of special interest to New Zealand and Asia Pacific agribusinesses, such as new market development, dealing with market volatilities and uncertainties, continuous innovation and transformational leadership, new opportunities, and value chain thinking.

Dr Campbell found the case study style of teaching practical and inspiring. It helped her to evaluate company strategy and decisions with "multiple lenses" and made her realise big opportunities were attainable.

"Some of the case studies we evaluated were of huge companies of $US15 billion [$NZ18.5 billion] turnover, which formed not much more than a decade ago," she said.

She believed there was a real need for more New Zealand executives, at multiple levels within organisations, to have exposure to "global thinking" and to be more ambitious for their companies.

Global food security was one of the most important issues facing her generation. There were significant international opportunities for food-producing nations and companies with a lot of knowledge and IP concerning farming and processing, and it was a 'matter of "how we productise some of that knowledge", she said.

Dr Fennessy saw the need for ongoing exposure to international agribusiness developments.

As a group, New Zealand agribusiness people were well-travelled, but that was usually purpose-orientated and he saw benefits in enabling them to "stop, think and reflect more".

A highlight of the symposium will be a trip to Mt Nicholas Station where managers Jack and Kate Cocks will share their business development story.


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