M&S Agricultural Leadership Programme
Steven recently took part in the M&S Agricultural Leadership Programme (ALP). This is a bespoke education programme that we’ve developed with Cranfield University to broaden understanding about sustainability and management practice. The initiative is just one aspect of the M&S Farming for the Future programme, which works with farmers and suppliers to help them meet the challenges they face.
Steven grows carrots and potatoes on 200 hectares of land in Morayshire & Inverness-shire. He loves coming up with new varieties for our customers and is steadily extending the UK growing season, now supplying carrots for almost all 12 months of the year.
“I think it’s a fair bet that psychometric profiling wouldn’t appear on too many farmers’ to-do list. Nor mine, either, that is until I won the national M&S Farming for the Future award last year. The prize was a place on the M&S Agricultural Leadership Programme (ALP) … a far cry from the day job in the fields of Scotland.
On the course I was joined by other farmers as well as suppliers and M&S staff. The first half of the week was spent learning more about how the global supply chain works and how we as individuals fit into that cycle. The second part of the week concentrated on personal development. The daunting prospect of psychometric profiling formed a big part of this and provided us with a detailed breakdown of our personality preferences, and the impact these can have on the people we work with.
Now, back in the office, I am finding ways to push through change or make progress in areas where we were struggling before. If we have an issue that just isn’t moving forward, I go back to the drawing board and think about how I can tailor my approach to better suit the team members working on that particular problem.
Having a week away from the business, but not being ‘on holiday’, was valuable in itself. Spending time with people from other parts of the food chain was really inspiring; and learning how to deal with challenging situations in the workplace certainly opened up my mind to new ideas.
I think, on the whole, management techniques are pretty traditional in the farming sector. We have loads of really skilled people, but I wonder how much more they have to offer? Hopefully the tools that other business sectors are using will continue to filter through to our industry. Any way of increasing communication and collaboration has got to be a positive for sustainable food production.”
Our M&S Farming for the Future programme sees us working closely with farmers, growers and fishermen in our supply base to ensure that we can secure the long term supply of high quality and innovative raw materials from the most sustainable sources.