MAKING LEADERS: Marcus Oldham students build leadership skills with a combination of in-calls and in-field teaching with a commercial focus.

MAKING LEADERS: Marcus Oldham students build leadership skills with a combination of in-calls and in-field teaching with a commercial focus.

Teaching people who love agriculture how to manage a business

Teaching people who love agriculture how to manage a business


Sponsored Content: How Marcus Oldham is developing the business managers of the next generation.


Story sponsored by Marcus Oldham College.

Marcus Oldham teaches people who love agriculture how to manage businesses, lecturer and program director David Cornish says.

Established in 1962, the Geelong college describes itself as Australia's only independent agricultural and equine business management college. But Mr Cornish said Marcus Oldham was not the place to find test tubes or tractors.

"Our motto is, 'We mean business'," he said.

"We're not a science course and it's not the place to learn fencing knots. What we're trying to develop are the business managers of the next generation."

Those future managers are drawn from three fields: agriculture, agribusiness for those interested in careers beyond the farm gate, and equine management.

Mr Cornish said the three-year Agriculture course was ideal for people with at least two years' experience working on farm.

"People come in with a bit of practical knowledge, experience and maturity," he said.

"It's amazing the difference that two years makes to attitudes and learning capacity."

There are degree and diploma courses in agribusiness for those with at least a year's experience in off-farm careers within the sector.

For anyone with at least five years' experience in agriculture, whether on farm or further along the supply chain in agribusiness, there's also the Marcus Oldham Rural Leadership Program.

The intensive five-day workshop brings together leaders from diverse backgrounds at the college campus in Geelong.

"People's management skills and leadership skills are often left up to the school of hard knocks," Mr Cornish said.

"Experience is great but the leadership program gives you a tool to try and put some of your learnings in some kind of framework, which allows you to take the next steps.

"Leadership is something that people can learn. It's for people who are looking at improving either their management management skills or taking on a leadership role further into the industries that they might want to represent."

Marcus Oldham also offers a Master of Agribusiness in a fully online or blended mode.

Aside from the post-graduate course, however, Marcus Oldham's focus was on face-to-face teaching, with classes held six hours a day, five days a week, Mr Cornish said.

That class work was matched with plenty of practical experiences.

"We also have two tours a year; the first one's a week-long where we take them out to farms and manufacturing businesses," he said.

"The second one is for two weeks. Some go to China, some go to New Zealand so that they can see what's happening along the supply chains," he continued.

"Going to China makes a real impact on people's understanding of where the product they're marketing is going."

The college encourages residency at the campus, Mr Cornish said, because the interaction with other students was valuable.

In all, there are around 200 students at Marcus Oldham this year, with 136 living on campus.

Mr Cornish said about two-thirds of students came from outside Victoria and from diverse backgrounds.

"We've got people from pastoral country, northern irrigation systems, southern, cropping, and livestock operations, even people from cherry orchards in Tasmania," he said.

"It just adds to the whole learning exchange that happens between students. And it's a very positive environment because everyone has come because they're passionate about agriculture," he continued.

"That creates quite a strong cohort and culture. The alumni's very, very strong because of that and those networks go on for a lifetime."

Marcus Oldham is the sponsor of the inaugural Flock Leader award, which recognises industry contributions from a professional in a position or field related to sheep production.

Finalists for the award will be selected based on the demonstration of their commitment to the future sustainability of the sheep and/or wool industry, their potential to achieve and deliver benefits to the industry, and how they provide leadership and share their skills and knowledge with their communities.

Story sponsored by Marcus Oldham College.