Directors Australia Board and Governance Specialist, Brondwen MacLean shares her insights on trends, focus areas and advice for boards and their directors in the agriculture sector
What key trends are you seeing in your work with boards at present?
Much of my work is in the agricultural sector – which is of course a critical sector to Australia’s social and economic wellbeing. Challenges and opportunities abound for all companies operating in agriculture. These include global competition, industry changes, new markets, agtech advances, research and development, financial and commodities markets, changing consumer consumption demands – and, of course, the increasing climate variability.
Many boards that I’m involved with are working to ensure that they have the right skills, experience and diversity around the table to successfully guide and drive their companies as they navigate these issues
What do you suggest boards should be focussing on?
For boards operating in environments such as agriculture, a constant focus on the strategic environment is critical. This can include through regular discussion of strategic issues at board meetings, separate strategy workshops at appropriate intervals, and discussion of strategic risks and how that informs risk appetite.
Aligning board ‘development’ activities with strategy is also useful. This can include inviting speakers to the boardroom to discuss global trends, innovations, case studies, demographics etc. Given the global nature of agriculture, there are various opportunities for boards to conduct site visits and attend conferences overseas. Tasking a small number of directors to undertake these with a report back to the full board and organisation on insights gained can be a more efficient and cost effective way for the board to broaden its knowledge base.
Do you have any other advice for boards or their directors?
Never underestimate the importance of a good company secretary!
In my experience having a professionally trained company secretary who assists the board through careful planning of its work, collating and distributing the board papers in a timely way, and taking meeting minutes which accord with good practice is invaluable. The role is one of the key platforms to board effectiveness.
Directors Australia provides board and governance advisory and specialist recruitment services to a wide range of boards across Australia.
Contact us here to discuss how we can help.