By Sarah Collier

Supporting emerging rural leaders and as a result building strong rural communities is one of the main focuses of the Gardiner Foundation. Gardiner supports a range of leadership courses each year and is now in its second year of providing a scholarship to the Marcus Oldham Leadership Course.  The five-day intensive program provides a solid foundation for those entering leadership roles.

Emma Hallyburton was the recipient of the Gardiner Foundation Scholarship  to attend the program. She grew up fifteen minutes north of Camperdown in Southwest Victoria on her family’s cattle farm.

After studying and working in Melbourne for five years she moved back to the area four years ago. She now works as a Despatch Manager at Total Livestock Genetics – Genetics Australia. “I was looking for a change and I haven’t had a single regret since taking the role,” Emma said. “My job involves guiding and instructing the team of seven employees on the various daily tasks of the despatch department. We aim to fulfil the requirements of semen companies and private clients.”

She also occasionally works on the family farm, Boiardo Pastoral, and has a small mob of ewes.

Emma is a winner of the 2023 National Heard Improvement Association (NHIA) Young Achiever award. “I still can’t believe that I won the award,” she said.

The award led her to receiving a fully sponsored scholarship to attend the 2023 Marcus Oldham Rural Leadership Program, funded by the Gardiner Foundation. “The relationships and networks that were made during the course were incredible. It was so inspiring to be surrounded by people who want to achieve great things within the agriculture industry. I enjoyed hearing other people’s experiences, and learning about different areas of agriculture that I am not familiar with,” she said.

The five-day workshop includes a variety of sessions and opportunities to learn from other participants and instructors. “My self-confidence and communication skills improved thanks to the course. It pushed me out of my comfort zone. The tips I received during sessions will enhance my decision-making skills,” Emma said.

The course focuses on teaching participants how to competently represent their industry or community in decision-making forums and understand and address the issues facing rural industries and rural communities. “We did a lot of self-reflecting and focused on our values. I felt so empowered,” she said. “The course highlighted the difference between management and leadership. It’s also important to celebrate the small wins.”

The course enables participants to undertake a leadership role in their industry or community. It helps them understand what leadership means and its importance to the industry. “Leadership is motivating others to achieve a shared value. It is always offering inspiration and enthusiasm, even during tough times. I inspire to create a positive, friendly, and enjoyable environment. It is important that I provide focus and vision, so we can increase our impact on the industry,” Emma said.

Emma currently manages a team and was at a perfect stage in her career to undertake the course. She not only had real life examples, but she could apply anything she learned to her job. “The course gave me the opportunity to focus on workplace issues in an unbiased environment,” she said. “A quote I heard during the course is that good leaders make themselves redundant. You make those around you better than yourself.”

“The course was incredible and so inspiring. It is one of the best experiences that I have ever had. I am so lucky and grateful to have been given this opportunity,” Emma said.

Find out more about the Marcus Oldham Leadership course on their website