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Hillsgreen co-host amazing rural conference

By Anna Tomlinson
25th February 2020

Hillsgreen co-host amazing rural conference

It’s been a while since you heard from us, and that’s because the whole Hillsgreen team has been super busy since Christmas.

As if helping all our amazing rural clients wasn’t enough, we also decided we wanted to help the wider rural industry too. So we thought we’d put on our own conference.

Madness, you might say, but we knew the sector was in need of something, and we knew we could deliver it. After chatting with Simon Haley of SRH Agribusiness Ltd, we decided to partner up and Cultivate was born!

And last month, Wednesday 29th January – we hosted our inaugural conference at Heaton House Farm.

Delegates from across the UK

After months of planning and lots of frantic last-minute preparation to get everything perfect, we opened the doors to Cultivate at 8am to welcome all our delegates for a networking breakfast.

Heaton House Farm proved the perfect venue, a stunning rural location but one that’s easily accessible and fully equipped with everything we’d need for an effective conference.

Food was provided by Stable Yard Catering throughout the day, and it was delicious – breakfast and lunch!

Delegates were soon coming through the doors, and it was absolutely incredible to see so many like-minded rural folk join us – from businesses all across the UK.

We had over 250 join us for the first Cultivate conference.

World-class speakers

Our delegates got to hear from four sensational speakers throughout the day, each with a unique perspective on leadership, success and the rural industry.

We kicked things off with Malcolm Smith, a highly regarded public speaker and an authority on leadership. He spoke about how as employers in the rural sector, we all need to create an environment where our employees can thrive, to keep them working with us. We need to share our passion and vision with those we work with and make sure we’re empowering our employees to do great work on their own.

Continuing the focus on leadership, Brad Waldron – CEO of 99 RainMaker – shared the seven habits for highly effective leaders – making clear these weren’t behaviours you practised, but something that should come naturally and thoughtlessly. Being consistent was one of his key points, along with the need to keep emotion in check so as not to negatively influence employees.

After lunch, Ross McMahon took to the stage to talk about his experience at Kendal Nutricare and how he achieved great success with Kendamil – their infant formula manufacturing. His secret, focusing on UK ingredients, being different and giving it all you’ve got!

Rounding off the brilliant day, Jane Lane spoke about how Westmorland embraced an ‘anti-brand’ mantra with their approach to their super-popular motorway service stations. Turning their family-run farm into a multi-site business, they made sure every location was different, representing the surrounding area and a unique experience. Most importantly, it’s about having fun and enjoying what you do.

Real time problem solving

As if all those speakers weren’t enough, we also arranged a unique masterminding session for all our delegates.

Each delegate had time to share their biggest challenges with everyone else on their table, and then together, the group had twenty minutes to work through options to solve each other’s problems.

Every rural business had different problems and different solutions, but we could all identify with each other’s challenges and it was great to take away some fantastic ideas on how to solve them.

And some amazing feedback

With the conference wrapping up, Willows Farm Vets had generously provided a free drink in the bar for everyone to enjoy further networking opportunities – coupled with some delicious nibbles courtesy of Just Crisps.

The day was a huge success and the first Cultivate Conference was extremely well received. 88% of our delegates have said it was excellent, and we’ve had some amazing feedback:

“Well Done – Super day and great networking! – A Braddock

“An excellently run conference, providing thought-provoking questions with engaging speakers throughout the day”. – Dan Bowden

“Excellent speakers. Good to look outside the industry for expertise to lead change” – Tillie Lackie

A massive thank you to all the staff at Heaton House Farm who were superb, all the sponsors on the day, all our speakers, and of course everyone who joined us.

We couldn’t be prouder of what we accomplished – and we’ll definitely back next year!

Keep your eyes peeled on our social media channels for when the 2021 tickets launch!


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