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Murray Dairy's Pathways to Leadership event showcased the many and varied pathways to leadership in the dairy industry and regional communities

"Leadership isn't just about those out in front, it's about every person you meet, the quiet support and advice you come across each day."

- Barry Irvin Pathways to Leadership 2018 (tweeted by Sarah Thompson)


Over sixty farmers, service providers and industry representatives turned out for Murray Dairy’s Pathways to Leadership event, held in Shepparton last week.

The event showcased the opportunities for leadership development within the dairy industry and supporting communities, including volunteering, travel, scholarships, social and discussion groups, advocacy, committees and boards.

The first panel to take the stage included Chair of Bega Cheese, Barry Irvin, Manager of United Dairyfarmers of Victoria, Ashlee Hammond, and Murray Dairy Director, Karen Moroney.

They talked about leadership as a service to others; a way of making change in the face of adversity. They all spoke of people who had provided guidance, mentorship or support in their leadership journey; emphasizing that learning from others, including those outside of the industry, had helped them get to where they are today.

Highlighting some of the opportunities available in the industry, the second panel included Caitlin Scholfield of Gardiner Dairy Foundation, CEO of the Committee for Greater Shepparton and Chair of the Goulburn Murray Community Leadership Program, Sam Birrell, Shane Hellwedge of Dairy Australia, and Harriet Bawden of Murray Dairy.

They spoke of the value of participating in leadership programs not only to hone your skills, but to meet like-minded passionate and proactive people. They discussed the role of their organisations in supporting young and newer entrants in the industry, as well as existing industry leaders, through tailored programs designed to step through the different stages of leadership. (Many of these programs are listed in this handout).

The final panel for the day included leaders from across the dairy industry, who have helped shape and grow their local communities.

Community Liaison Officers, Karen Rowlands and Andrew Hipwell, developed as leaders through their involvement with schools and sports clubs. They now work with Murray Dairy to engage with farmers across the region, signposting them to programs and support services on offer. They both explained how taking small steps and making the most of opportunities in front of them has helped to build their confidence and experience.

Russell Pell, who, for many years, has been involved in water policy and advocacy for the region, as well as his local Landcare group, echoed comments from earlier in the day about the need to fight for the issues you really care about. He said that finding something you’re passionate about would keep you going, even in challenging times.

Sarah Parker, President of Australian Women in Agriculture, spoke of her commitment to regional issues such as mental health, access to healthcare and connectivity. Her resume is diverse and she’s been able to learn something from the different aspects of her life – whether it be working with youth, being involved in breeding societies, or in board positions.

And Dustin Kemp, mover and shaker in the Campaspe Young Dairy Discussion Group and previous participant in the UDV Tour to NZ, spoke about stepping up as a voice for his generation. He said that young people in the industry would only be represented on committees if they were willing to be there and get involved.  

For those who missed the event, you can download a copy of the handout here.

Please contact Murray Dairy if you’re interested in getting involved in any leadership programs or taking up leadership roles. 

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