Shay and Shelly Egan, equity managers, Ngutunui, Waikato
Progression Group members Shay and Shelly Egan have worked their way up in the dairy industry from sharemilking to farm ownership. They are keen to keep that momentum going and are looking forward to picking the brains of equally motivated farmers.
The couple started going to Progression Groups as 50:50 sharemilkers because they were keen to build their networks and skill base to get ahead.
They are now looking forward to the start of Biz Grow which will allow them to network with like-minded farmers in a similar situation or further along in their career progression.
"It will be good to network with somebody that is ahead of us who has achieved something in the dairy industry who we can learn off and vice versa, says Shay.
"It's not just cows and grass, it's about financials and budgets and goals. Just because we have progressed doesn't mean we have to stop," he says.
Shay came to New Zealand in 1997 and started out in the dairy industry with nothing. He and Shelly have achieved some big goals and like others attending the group will have a lot to offer.
Wilfred and Rachel van Beek, Wairarapa
Wairarapa dairy farmer Wilfred van Beek has been attending the DairyNZ Biz Grow Progression Group in his area since it began and has found it a great way to focus on key issues.
“It is good to learn what the right information is to focus on and also see how people actually put it into practice, like staff management and goal setting. You have done it all before but it is good to focus on it,” says Wilfred.
Wilfred and his wife Rachel have been variable order sharemilking on a 155ha Wairarapa property since June 2011, milking over 450 cows which is split into two milking herds with a herd manager on each side.
With over six years’ sharemilking experience Wilfred says having the opportunity to share ideas and information with other farmers in the area is his favourite part of BizGrow Progression Groups.
“I like chucking ideas around and learning as well as hearing different opinions because different people can do different things which you can learn from.
“Leo Hendricks who is the CO here always makes sure he has good speakers and discussion subjects. I always go away thinking that was good. I just love it,” says Wilfred.
He says groups like Biz Grow can be more helpful then other discussion groups as they are focused on one issue and everyone attending is there to learn.
“Focused discussion groups like Biz Grow and Pasture Plus are where people come to learn and focus on that subject. Everyone is interested and open to learn.”
Wilfred has almost completed the Biz Grow Group and is now thinking a higher level group needs to be created so the group of farmers can continue meeting.
“It is quite a nice group we have got together, we are getting to the end now and thinking we need to do something next.”
Setting goals to climb the career ladder
Set realistic goals and create a timeframe to achieve them – that’s the advice of last year’s Central Plateau Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year winners.
Tokoroa 50:50 sharemilkers Bec and Nick Simmonds are one of many couples and individuals who have joined one of 34 DairyNZ Progression Groups nationwide to help achieve their goals.
They joined a Biz Grow group over a year ago.
“We felt that there is always something new to learn and that we could use the skills and ideas we discovered at the Progression Group to run our own business better,” says Bec.
This is the third season in their current position on an 820-cow farm. Their next goal is to own a 400-cow farm within three years - and there is no doubt in their mind that they can achieve this.
They have already come a long way since moving to New Zealand from England in 2000. The couple started working for dairy farmers in Putaruru before moving on to become contract milkers and then sharemilkers.
With experience of farming in two countries, Bec has some words of wisdom for others making their way up the career ladder. "You need to plan for the future and map out how you are actually going to achieve your goals, and the great thing about plans is they can be flexible, and adapted as the situation changes," says Bec.
She recommends getting involved in industry events and groups.
“Look for opportunities where you are mixing with people with the same goals whether that is a dairy industry competition like the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, a course or an organised group like a local DairyNZ Progression Group.”