Monday 18th November 2019

McGlashan excels at the things at which it needs to excel. But in today’s competitive world we need a serious COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE. Could it be AGRIBUSINESS?

Agribusiness building - could it look like this?
Agribusiness building - could it look like this?

Successful medium term strategy is all about having the best teachers, best facilities, best courses, top pupils. But in the longer term these can be matched by other schools, making the school vulnerable. What McGlashan has to do is search for the elusive competitive advantage – something that can’t easily be matched by competitors in the medium to long term.

My first connection at the University of Otago with the international case competition scene was through agribusiness. It was brilliant.

McGlashan was pretty much founded on the rural sector. In my day there was an ‘ag’ programme but these days agriculture has seriously changed. Technology, environmental pressure and sustainability are some of the things re-shaping agriculture in New Zealand that will dominate all business going forward.  As are ownership structures, distribution methods, marketing, business systems, and production.

McGlashan has the chance to take the high ground in secondary education in this area.

There’s a lot of talk about new buildings and new teaching spaces. There is also a desire to create engagement opportunities with Old Boys. Could it be that all of the ducks are lining up?

A vision I share with Craig Preston, the Director of Agribusiness (who is running an outstanding programme). As Craig puts it ‘Our vision is a dedicated purpose-built and sustainably designed facility that will demonstrate our firm commitment to sharpening our edge and consolidating our point of difference as a College that values and develops career paths for the primary sector. Innovative classroom design and purpose built Agribusiness laboratories and collaborative, nationally recognised conference facilities will combine to build a South Island hub for training and Agri-education’. I thought maybe a three level building:

Level 1 laboratories and media centre

Level 2 teaching spaces

Top floor conference centre, alumni (old boys) lounge, Principals’ apartment, visiting alumni apartment, deck overlooking golf course

I asked Craig for his thoughts on teaching the programme and he said: …… ‘The key for education today is to ensure that we resist simply teaching content but rather contextualize our learning in real life industry-based experiences. Further to that, we need to provide clear academic and vocational pathways for our school leavers as they take on their futures. Agribusiness, I am proud to report, is achieving all that at the College and in collaboration with Columba College.’

I think this is something that the Old Boys could seriously get behind. What do you think????

[The reflections are those of the Editor and Craig Preston and are not the thoughts or plans of either the Board of Trustees or the Board of Proprietors. These designs are not necessarily what is in mind, they are just examples of something different. The photo and logo shown are purely for illustrative purposes of the type of agri-sector company that McGlashan could partner with. ]

Agribusiness building - could it look like this?