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PMA-ANZ and Nuffield Australia Bursary Winners Story: PMA Emerging Leaders Program

Monday, 4 September 2017
PMA A-NZ Media Release

Midge Munro – Group Communications Manager Darling Group

Class of 2016

I was ecstatic to receive news in January 2016 that I was the inaugural recipient of an AUD8,000 Bursary from PMA-ANZ and Nuffield Australia to attend the 2016 PMA Emerging Leaders Program in Arizona.

I had been looking for something to facilitate the development of my skills, but nothing that the usual tertiary institutes had on offer were targeted enough for me and they also would take a long time to complete. As a person who is passionate about horticultural produce, the idea of a course that merged both leadership and the produce industry together and could be completed in 10 months was a perfect fit for me.

The PMA ELP is a run by the Center for Growing Talent by PMA which is a division of the Produce Marketing Association in the USA. The programme prepares high potential leaders from all segments of the global produce and floral supply chain, to embrace increasing levels of responsibility and handle both challenges and opportunities inherent in future leadership roles within the industry.

There were two online modules covering financial acumen and global negotiations and an intensive week-long on-campus component which was held at the Thunderbird School of Global Management at the University of Arizona in Phoenix in March 2016. We finished up the course at the PMA Fresh Summit Trade show in Orlando in October 2017.

Now almost a year on from the course I have been able to reflect on what the experience has done for me.

Inspiring and successful mentors delivering course content

The financial element was challenging – as a non-finance person, but it taught me how numbers tell a story about a business and also where to look for opportunities and really just to ask questions.

The on-campus component was a learning feast – esteemed industry professionals sharing their experiences, career coaching, personality testing, and highly respected facilitators running sessions on leadership, global produce trends, crisis management, team work and tools for making decisions based on market trends.

The daily learning sessions were punctuated with intense business simulation sessions. We were put into cross functional teams and over three days ran a fresh produce business in a virtual business environment competing against the five other teams.

We had to utilise all that we were learning during the sessions each day and also had to work together as a team. We used our respective inherent skills to make a multitude of decisions about how we were going to run our business.

These decisions included firstly the company strategy, then products, staffing, production, locations, marketing and pricing and other strategic moves along the way. After three simulated years of business and a food safety scare thrown in to test our abilities, the team I was a part of “Fresh For Less” came out on top with the greatest performance in terms of share price and execution of strategy.

Strong leadership focus and career strengthening learnings

The main theme of the programme, along with learning more about the business of produce, was leadership – what a leader is and how they behave.

As we were learning about leadership, I found myself clarifying what I believed, how I would incorporate these leadership skills into my life, and the environment I needed to be in to realise my potential and have others benefit from that.

We learned that leadership is about others in the organisation.

I have developed a great appreciation for recognising when other people are having leadership moments and to let them have those and to encourage them. A leader is someone who helps those around them rise as well.

Since finishing the study I find myself working to bring people together, get the best out of them, increase communication within teams, and I will stop to look at myself and my own behaviour and how that affects others.

Motivating content

Any form of study is difficult to achieve while working full time and maintaining adequate rest and relaxation. The fact that I was so determined to do this and to succeed kept me motivated and you just make the time to do the work and do it well.

Networking bringing about social and commercial opportunities

Professionally, the programme has given me a whole new network to call on for advice and also potential commercial opportunities.

Just recently I was contacted by another person who was on the course with me that was interested in discussing some collaboration between our companies.

PMA Fresh Summit topping off a pivotal career experience

PMA Fresh Summit was an amazing experience.

I left that show feeling inspired and motivated because of the positive energy, the sights, sounds, colours, tastes, amazing marketing, food innovation and company prosperity that exuded from the show each day. The innovation in fresh products, packaging and associated technology was exciting to see.

This event showed me that there is a lifetime of work ahead in the produce industry; new opportunities, new products to be discovered, major efficiencies to be made.

The future is bright and the PMA Emerging Leaders Program helps train and retain those people that will take on the next generation of leadership in this industry.

I thank all those who saw potential in me and who continue to support me, you are true leaders.

Along with the Bursary from PMA-ANZ and Nuffield Australia, I also received assistance from Horticulture New Zealand, Avocado Industry Council (NZ) and Darling Group.

Midge Munro
Group Communications Manager


This bursary was proudly sponsored by


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