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Today's farmers run sophisticated business enterprises, often as the sole employee – and boss.

But as directors of agricultural marketing boards, co-ops and other agencies, farmers need additional skills, such as how to collaborate with others, grasp the big picture and lobby politicians and bureaucrats on domestic and global trade policy.

A new executive leadership program, partly underwritten by the Farm Credit Canada and run by University of Western Ontario's Ivey School of Business, will offer leadership training to farm directors and senior staff of boards and co-ops across the country.

"When you are farming, you are used to being the boss and boss yourself around," says David Sparling, Ivey professor and chair of agri-food innovation and regulation. "There are quite a few programs out there on managing your farm business but there aren't programs on helping to manage or lead your industry better."

The five-day course, believed to be the first of its kind in Canada, is expected to attract directors and senior staff of farm organizations, with training on how they can work with each other and across sectors on industry leadership, strategies and policy direction.

"These people [farmers]are not afraid of change or taking on risk," observes Prof. Sparling. "They are not afraid of getting in to brand new areas and doing new things all the time."

The price-tag for the intensive session is $4,250, about half the cost of similar executive training programs, because Farm Credit Canada has put up $400,000 over five years to defray tuition costs.

"This is a needed advancement," says Lyndon Carlson, senior vice-president of marketing for FCC, the leading agricultural lender in Canada. "We will attract directors and senior managers from across the country."

With agriculture and food production increasingly global in nature, Mr. Carlson says those who lead producer associations in Canada need to be influential at all levels of government.

"Farmers need to take control in a business-like negotiation," he says. "That means when they talk to government, they are not just asking for a safety-net program, they are developing policies that need to be sustainable and that the taxpayer will be supportive of."

Cultural managers

Montreal earns top honours in Canada as a centre of cultural enterprises (think Cirque du Soleil and the Montreal Symphony Orchestra) and of artists – including Quebec filmmaker Philippe Falardeau who is up for an Oscar for best foreign-language film.

This September, in response to demand from the francophone cultural community, HEC Montréal plans to introduce a Master of Management of Cultural Enterprises, an extension of the business school's long-running Graduate Diploma in Management of Cultural Organizations. Eight other higher education institutions in Canada offer specialty training in arts management.

"It's very complex to manage an arts organization and we want to prepare our students for that," says Renaud Legoux, academic supervisor for the diploma and master of management programs, and one of about 20 HEC Montréal professors with links to the cultural sector.

He said the diploma graduates – past students include former dancers, actors and a retired acrobat – have lobbied hard for a master's level credential. Since many prospective candidates are working professionals, they will have the option to study part-time.

Eligible students will need an undergraduate degree and at least two years of experience in arts and culture to enter the one-year diploma program. After that, they can take an additional semester to earn the master of management.

"We are not training accountants," says Prof. Legoux, of the rationale for the new program. "We are training people who understand the accounting part of the business, as well as marketing and human resources."

He expects about 20 master's graduates by December, with the potential for 20-30 graduates a year after that.

In time, he hopes to offer the new program in English.

Executive leadership

Doug Dempster, a former Canadian Forces major-general and former NATO assistant secretary general for executive management is one of two new appointments to the Centre for Executive Leadership at the University of Ottawa's Telfer School of Management. He will be responsible for executive MBA and non-degree executive programs.

Sophia Leong, a former Industry Canada official and who worked at Nortel Networks in commercializing start-up companies, has been named director of the school's executive MBA program.

3-M teaching award

University of Victoria professor A.R. "Elango" Elangovan, director of international programs with the Gustavson School of Business, is one of 10 Canadian scholars awarded a 3M National Teaching Fellowship for 2012. "Elango's expertise in organizational behaviour combined with his knowledge of cultural sensitivities and of geopolitics greatly enhance our students' understanding of international business practices," said UVic president David Turpin, in a press release announcing the award. The fellowships were established by the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, with funding from 3M Canada.

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