MD's corner

By Anna Campbell

This is my first newsletter as managing director of AbacusBio, a company I joined eight years ago.

In those eight years, our focus has not changed. We continue to use science and technology to drive agribusiness forward.

However, the environment in which we operate is constantly changing. Markets are more volatile, technology is advancing more rapidly than ever, and regulatory requirements… well, no comment!

As I write this, analysts are predicting dairy prices will rise more slowly than initially predicted, on top of that international meat markets are softening.

As a result, agricultural businesses are looking to cut costs where they can.

Sadly, career development and training are one of the first costs to be cut by business owners and managers.

Unfortunately, this is false economy as the benefits of training in terms of improved productivity, motivation, and goodwill, far outweigh the minor costs saved.

Across the industry, we need to view training and career development as a business imperative, not a cost. As such, it should be invested in, at a supportable level, independent of market returns.

Recently at AbacusBio, we engaged in a process with an external company to review our salary and training packages. Through that process we found that AbacusBio spends five times the national average on staff training and career development.

I delightedly told this to our Australian chairman, who quipped, “well isn’t that a sad indictment on New Zealand business”? Hard for me to admit, but I suspect he was right in this instance!

The New Zealand agricultural industry prides itself on being world leaders in farming and primary exports.

To stay at this level, we must invest throughout the value chain to grow our people and in doing so, attract the new bright young stars. If we don’t, our international reputation is at risk.

The challenge for all of us is to keep improving, keep innovating, and most importantly keep learning and striving for excellence.

If we can do this, we can be resilient during the down times and in the up times we can ‘make hay while the sun shines’.