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Looking forward to challenges ahead

13 June 2024

In 2023 the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association (ALFA) and Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) awarded the 2024 industry scholarship to the Australian Rural Leadership Program (ALRP) to lot feeder, Greg Zillman.

The Australian Rural Leadership Foundation looks to help foster leadership to support the future of rural, regional and remote Australia. They aim to create engaging learning experiences through the delivery of several leadership development programs, one of which is ALRP. Through providing an immersive and high-impact program, ARLP focuses on leadership development, to create authentic leadership to help rural areas thrive.

Greg Zillman was the recipient of the 2024 scholarship, valued at $55,000. Having extensive experience in the Australian livestock industry, he now operates a family beef business, Beef Connect Feeding, as the Managing Director.

Over the 16-month program, which is set to kick off this month (June 2024), Greg will work both individually and with fellow participants in several in-person workshops, project work and online sessions. 

We caught up with Greg ahead of the program’s first session to talk about motivating factors for his participation in the program, as well as his ambitions and goals.

What was it that pushed you to apply for the program?

There were a lot of different angles when it came to applying for the scholarship, three of the main reasons being timing, connection and wanting a challenge.

My kids are a little bit older now so in a family sense, the timing is better than it was five years ago. They’re also starting to get more towards the age where they’re starting to think about what direction they might want to go for a career. Talking to them about where I am going and what I know about what we are doing in the program, their eyes are kind of opening to see there is opportunity in agriculture.

I’ve gotten to a time in my life where I work by myself quite a lot and I’ve started to lose connection with the industry a bit – I’m missing the networking element.

I’m also never comfortable with being comfortable. I always want to challenge myself, whether I’m on a sporting field or in the industry. You can never stop learning.

The program combined opportunities for me to be able to address everything I wanted, networking, building connections and challenging myself, into one place.

You’re heading into the first session in a couple of weeks – how much do you know about what you will be doing and how do you feel heading into it?

They don’t give us too much information about what we’re doing in the session. We know a few things...we’re going on a boat, and then trekking for a number of days, which will be nice and cold.

I think I’m going to get a lot out of the trekking element, and it’ll be a good way to get to know the other participants. I’ve done adventure stuff before, so I’ve challenged myself in that sense. I’m looking forward to using my experience to support other people in the program if it’s needed.

You’ve mentioned you’re a bit of a ‘planner’ – does the fact that you don’t know all the details about the sessions challenge you?

I’m actually looking forward to not knowing all the details. This is something that I have changed about my personality over time. I used to have to know everything, but now I’m a lot more flexible. I often think back on my time in the army, where you didn’t know what you were doing in five minutes. Through that experience, I developed the skills to not need to know everything all the time and trust in others a little more.

Is there anything that you think might challenge you during the first session?

I think the physical side of the session I’ll be fine with, but it may be the mental side that may challenge me.

When you’re doing physical outdoor type challenges, you’ve got a lack of sleep, the elements are against you, all those sorts of things are what I think help you to understand yourself and the person you are. More importantly, you understand how you can lead people. In those sorts of circumstances, you get down to the core of a person. So hopefully, I will be able to work through the mental challenges and come out at the end more mentally fit.

What is the end goal after the program has concluded?

Challenging myself and networking are the main goals...then just becoming a better person as a father, and a leader within the industry. They are both factors that I am looking forward to working on. I sit on a lot of boards and committees within the community. Hopefully, these things will prepare me in case a time comes where I’m sitting on the ALFA Board or get into the committee, and I’ll have the right skill set to pay back and support them how they have supported me.

We’ll be catching up with Greg throughout his experience of the program, but you can also stay up to date with his session updates through the ALFA website