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Developing the future leaders of Agri-Food

As the agri-food sector deals with both the challenges and opportunities arising from Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic and the newly proposed Future Agricultural Policy Framework, Ulster University Business School, in partnership with Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster, is launching a new programme to help develop our local farming leaders of the future.


The food and drink industry in Northern Ireland is a £5 billion industry and the region’s largest manufacturer, exporting to over 70 countries. Given the current context created by Covid-19 and the UK’s exit from the European Union, rebuilding the economy and ensuring the resilience of the local agri-food supply chain is of critical importance. Ulster University’s new advanced certificate in Management Practice (Developing Leaders in Agri-Food) will provide aspiring farmers with the latest thinking on the principles of leading and managing an agri-food business in today’s fast-changing environment.

Professor Barry Quinn, Course Director and Professor of Retail Marketing at Ulster University Business School said: “Today’s agri-food industry is facing a number of challenges relating to crisis management, changes in consumer tastes and the introduction of new technologies. Our new programme addresses these challenges by equipping future leaders within the industry with the knowledge and skills increasingly required to innovate, succeed and thrive in a highly competitive and fast changing marketplace. Through effective leadership, a competitive food industry can help the Northern Ireland economy to grow in the post-Covid business environment.”

The programme has been developed in partnership with the Young Farmer’s Clubs of Ulster, ensuring that it meets the needs of current and aspiring leaders working in farming or agri-food production.

Michael Reid, Chief Executive Officer, Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster commented: “It has been exciting to work with Ulster University Business School to bring this much needed leadership qualification to the table. A chance for future leaders in the Agri and Agri food Industry to undertake relevant hands on study in Northern Ireland is finally here with the support and foresight of many in YFCU and DAERA”.


The programme is practical and interactive, using insight from case studies and expertise from inspirational thought leaders working within the agri-food industry including Jack Hamilton, Chief Financial Officer at Mash Direct and Alan Gibson, Chief Compliance Officer at Devenish Nutrition.

Participants will also benefit from best practice field trips to showcase how leading local agri-food players have diversified, innovated and grown highly successful businesses through strong and effective leadership.


Leading UK artisan food producers Finnebrogue Artisan, will provide key insights on the leadership and management of some of their brands, including their nitrite-free Naked Bacon and The Good Little Company sausage brands.

Emma Curistan, Head of Development for M&S, Finnebrogue Artisan, said: “At Finnebrogue, we make food the best it can be without being bound by the way it has been done. Our founder, Denis Lynn, was a true visionary. He put innovation at the heart of everything we do in our business. We are delighted to share our knowledge and expertise with aspiring leaders in the agri-food sector via this innovative new course.”

Participants on the course will also gain insight into key market trends and access to Ulster University Business School’s new Consumer Insight Lab, which houses two Virtual Reality retail stores used to understand consumer buying behaviour.



(L-R) Martin Rodgers, Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster; Emma Curistan, Finnebrogue Artisan; and Dr Lynsey Hollywood, Food and Drink Business Development Centre, Ulster University

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