GRDC supports development of grains industry leaders

Author: Sharon Watt | Date: 21 Apr 2015

L-R Southern Panelist Susan Findlay Tickner and Denise McLelland

Two grains industry professionals from the southern cropping region have been accepted into the acclaimed Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP) with sponsorship from the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC). 

Denise McLellan from Horsham (Victoria) and Darren Arney from Nairne (South Australia) will next month embark on their ARLP leadership development experience.

The ARLP is the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation’s flagship program, and it has been developing leaders for the future of rural and regional Australia for more than 20 years.

One of those leaders is GRDC Southern Regional Panel member Susan Findlay Tickner, who undertook the ARLP for established leaders program in 2008-09.

And just as she did, Mrs Findlay Tickner expects Denise McLellan and Darren Arney will reap enormous benefits from the program.

“This program is a terrific vehicle for our industry to develop the next cohort of leaders that will take us forward. Denise and Darren will have access to the captains of industry from across the agricultural sector, enabling the grains industry to learn from the success of others,” said Mrs Findlay Tickner.

“The ARLP is viewed as a type of feeder program into leadership roles and in some ways it is a quasi-succession planning device for our current crop of leaders.”

As a founding investor in the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation, the GRDC is committed to building leadership capacity in the grains industry. GRDC-backed graduates have cited access to leader networks, increased confidence and a better understanding of key issues affecting the rural sector as major benefits of ARLP participation.

Denise McLellan is no stranger to grain growers in the Wimmera region. Operating Bengalee, a farming and contracting business out of Horsham, she is excited at the prospect of developing skills that are not just important to farming operations, but also to the broad business landscape across Australia.

“I’m looking forward to stepping beyond the farm gate to learn skills about leadership but also to develop the intangible skills that come from exposure to other leaders at a personal level,” Mrs McLellan said. 

“Learning from others is important for me personally but I think it’s also important for the grains industry if it is going to see continual innovation.

“In the future, I’m keen to see improved profitability and economic returns to growers. I’m also focused on increasing the recognition of farmers. If we can do this we might see more of the next generation choosing farming and agriculture as a viable and rewarding career.”

An agronomist by trade, former bank manager, grain marketing and farm business consultant Darren Arney from Nairne, South Australia, is now the Chief Executive of Grain Producers SA and will use the ARLP for established leaders program to better prosecute and advocate for the needs of SA grain growers with government and industry.

“Coming out of agronomy and banking I have a very corporate and risk focused approach to my work. This continues to be beneficial for grain growers however I’m still honing my influencing skills. In my role it’s important to have a vision and to bring people along with you. So I think the communications skills I’ll develop will help deliver results for South Australian growers,” Mr Arney said. 

“The course will also help with my community work providing farmers with support around the complex between farming and mining. Additionally, it will help me develop skills to assist farmers with mental health issues, an area I’ve been involved with for around ten years.”

The ARLP program, delivered by the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation, covers the gamut of essential leadership traits and skills development such as ethics, values, personal effectiveness, critical thinking, social responsibility, private sector, community and regional engagement.

The program runs for 59 days, and is delivered in six sessions over 17 months. Five of these sessions take place in locations across Australia, with one component held overseas.

Applications for ARLP Course 23 will open on April 30. Visit for more details about the program.


For Interviews

Susan Findlay Tickner
0428 622 352


Sharon Watt, Porter Novelli
0409 675 100

Caption: Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP) participant Denise McLellan (right), from Horsham (Victoria), with GRDC Southern Regional Panel member Susan Findlay Tickner, also of Horsham, who undertook the ARLP for established leaders program in 2008-09. Photo: DEDJTR.

GRDC Project Code: ARL00007

GRDC Project Code ARL00007

Region South, North