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Mentoring at its best!

During the past 2 years I have been in a wonderful position where I was provided support under the Farming Together Program. This program was set up to assist farmers who are working together to achieve set goals. Along with our Blackwattle labelled yarn, we also stock and sell yarn labelled under the Alpaca Breeders Collection. This yarn is sold on behalf of other NSW alpaca breeders.

Recently I was lucky to be part of a mentoring program and I was provided with a wonderful mentor – Dalene Wray (CEO of OBE Organic). Over 10 1 hour sessions Dalene pushed me in a direction that I did not really know I needed to be pushed. She helped me understand that the profitability streams in a business and the need to focus on the bookkeeping and finances. I have learnt so much from Dalene that will help the Alpaca Breeders Collection members going forward.

Below is a post written by Dalene about our experience:

Over the past three months, OBE Organic has been pleased to support the Farming Together Mentoring Program funded by the Federal Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources and administered by Southern Cross University. The invitation only program was created following the successful completion of the Farming Together Pilot Program which provided farmers, fishers and foresters with knowledge, skills and materials on collaborative ideas, co-operative structures and collective strategies.

The program enabled applicants to get one-on-one support from some of the best collaborative business minds in Australia.

A program facilitator connected our Managing Director, Dalene Wray with Angela Smith, a leader in alpaca production and a skilled visual artist with a passion for the ancient art of hand dyeing yarn and fibre.

Over ten, one-hour sessions, Dalene and Angela worked through a range of topics, with a general focus on business optimisation to drive profitable outcomes. Significant progress was made between sessions, as Angela focused her attention on capturing farm and business data, in order to drive informed decision making. Valuable outputs from the sessions included a template for monthly reporting and a strategic plan for the business.

Whilst it might seem that the business of organic beef production and high-quality alpaca yarn and fibre doesn’t have a lot in common, its what’s on the inside that matters in a mentoring relationship.

Dalene and Angela share a commitment to the professional development of self and others. They both stepped outside their comfort zones to give and receive advice, which was often very direct. A healthy respect for each other’s professional experience and desire to learn and grow delivered meaningful mentoring sessions and tangible outcomes.

Following completion of the program, and with the benefit of a significant body of work completed between each mentoring session, Angela feels she can comfortably grow her business and can make more informed decisions.

‘I’ve learned how to use my head and not my heart, when making decisions about my business. I understand that I need to trust my instincts but verify my assumptions and I understand the value of being disciplined when planning the year ahead. Even though my business is small and I’m stretched most of the time, I can see that disciplines like preparing monthly financial statements and reports, can be an important tool for me. I’m in a good place. I understand where I was, where I am and where I am going’.

Dalene also learned a great deal from the mentoring relationship. ‘You all know you never stop learning and it was exciting to test my skills on the new challenges and opportunities which Angela presented to me, during each of our sessions. It was very rewarding to be involved in the program as a mentor. I developed a new discipline for time management as I felt an obligation to Angela, to ensure she felt that she was getting value from her involvement in the program’.

Angela and Dalene were able to connect, learn and grow through their involvement in the Farming Together Pilot Program – a resource for primary producers to help you collaborate, value-add, build marketplace strength and boost returns.