September 2020 Blog

By Jen Scoular

We found out recently that you can teach old dogs new tricks when we hosted our first ever online Annual General Meeting – and I promise you I am referring to myself, not the great team I have who made sure this happened.

During level 3 and 4 we certainly had lots of practice using Zoom technology, and have continued to host and participate in a lot more online events since lockdown, saving on travel time, being sustainable by not travelling so much and enjoying the flexibility of being able to be “in” a meeting from home, the office or in a car. But hosting an AGM where minutes, financial statements and remits need to be approved is quite another exercise.

Our first port of call was of course to talk to people who have done it before, so thanks to KVH and KGI for sharing your learnings with us following your AGM’s the previous week. We were very happy with the resulting meeting, and utilised a good range of Zoom functionality from “raise your hand”, Q & A, the chat function, through to online polling. We had most of the team on hand in the office, and the Chair and I sat in different rooms, each with a support team to ensure the meeting went well. The result was a well-run meeting and we got grower approval for everything we sought approvals for.

Thanks to the growers who came online too, it must have been very different for you compared to the usual in-person format. We certainly missed the comradery that would normally come with a grower meeting, I missed reading the faces of the audience as I presented the accounts and our business plan for the year ahead.

Tony Ponder stood down after 16 years on the Board, and Paula Kearns, a grower from Whangarei was elected onto his position as an At Large representative to join the other seven grower elected representatives and two exporter representatives on our Board. I think Tony would suggest he has seen the industry through many highs as well as lows, but leaves when opportunity is certainly calling.

Governance is such an important role, guiding the operational function in any organisation. We struggle at times to have growers put up their hand to sit on our Board yet the role of Director should be seen as pretty exciting in growth industries like avocados. Being tasked with developing strategy for the future success for growers and the industry, while tackling risks like a global pandemic, unfavourable weather or the persistence of pests. We’re hearing a lot about the “new normal”, but with nearly a decade in the industry, I’m starting to think that in horticulture we don’t have a “normal”, because each new season brings on such new opportunities, challenges and thinking. To succeed we need to remain agile to manage those, and enjoy the diversity each new season offers.

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