The event | Overview

Shape the future of your agribusiness. The symposium provides a valuable 3 day development programme for executives interested in both personal and professional development. The goal of the event is to empower attendees with the aspiration, the tools, the network, and the mindset to expand their agribusiness.

The symposium will be led by two well renowned global agribusiness experts: Mary Shelman and Professor Damien P. McLoughlin. Both are recognised as pathfinders in the food and agricultural business sector. International guest speakers representing global agribusinesses will also share their thoughts on the industry and their experience first-hand. The symposium will attract senior-level decision makers of agribusinesses throughout the Asia Pacific region, creating valuable networking opportunities for all attendees.

The symposium uses a case study approach with real agribusiness scenarios. The case studies will be based on innovation leaders, widely regarded for developing new business models, setting new benchmarks for success, and embracing new thinking about industry challenges.

Participants in the seminars discuss these issues both within smaller groups, and within the larger facilitated group.

General schedule

Tuesday 24th

Arrive in Queenstown
3:00pm - 4:15pmPhil Cohn: Climate Policy and Carbon Markets - Emerging Risks and Opportunities for Agriculture
4:30pm - 5:15pmIntroductory case study
5:30pm - 6:30pmWelcome drinks and address on global agribusiness trends
6:30pm - lateDinner and official opening

Wednesday 25th

8:00am - 6:00pmFull day of case studies
7:00pm - lateDinner and evening discussion: How to add value using ‘The New Zealand Story’?

Thursday 26th

8:00am - 4:00pmFull day of case studies
4:15pm - lateHigh country barbeque at Mt Nicholas Station

Friday 27th

8:00am - 12:45pmMorning of case studies
12:45pm - 2:00pmFinal lunch and close

Register now to ensure your place.


Mary Shelman. Mary Shelman,
Director of Harvard Business School’s Agribusiness Program

Prof. Damien P. McLoughlin. Prof. Damien P. McLoughlin, Anthony C. Cunningham Professor of Marketing and Associate Dean at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, Ireland

The key benefits of the symposium to companies and individuals:

  • Gain insights into most relevant areas of the highly complex and dynamic agribusiness industry
  • Identify opportunities for business growth, particularly through global expansion
  • Engage in a global network that lives beyond the course
  • Broaden perspectives and ways of thinking

The event | The value of the
case study approach

The case studies are at the heart of the Queenstown Agribusiness Symposium. This highly interactive approach will challenge attendees’ ways of thinking, much more than a lecture or conference approach because attendees will assume the role of the protagonist and must be ready to answer one key question:
What would you, or your company, do when faced with this decision?

In this manner attendees will address aspirational agribusiness related issues, first as part of a smaller group, and then within the larger facilitated group.

The case studies are selected to focus on a range of areas, which are of special interest to New Zealand and Asia Pacific agribusinesses, such as:

  • Issues in new market development (e.g.China, South America, South Asia)
  • Dealing with market volatilities and uncertainties
  • Continuous innovation and transformational leadership
  • New opportunities (e.g. culturally-based niche markets, sustainability)
  • Value chain thinking

Most of the case studies are personally developed by Mary Shelman and Damien McLoughlin who are international thought leaders in agribusiness. In addition, we will be developing a novel case study based on a successful New Zealand exporting agribusiness. The discussion of this case will be followed by a wrap-up of the key learnings of the Symposium and their application within the New Zealand context.

Through the case studies, attendees will also learn from equally talented peers and discuss different perspectives. Attendees will be required to listen to others, think, and adapt their ideas.

The case study approach demands:

  • Strategic thinking
  • Analytical skills
  • Persuasive communication
  • Decision orientation in complex situations
  • Leadership skills
  • Thinking on your feet

The event | High country barbeque

A highlight of the symposium will be the late afternoon boat trip over the Lake Wakatipu to the sunny slopes of Mt Nicholas Station, to learn about an innovative farming business, and enjoy a barbeque meal in spectacular mountain and lake scenery.

This stunning high country sheep station is the largest of its kind on the lake, at 100,000 acres. The managers, Jack and Kate Cocks, will share the story of their business development.

Mt Nicholas Station runs 28,000 merino sheep and produces some of the world's finest quality wool fibre. The majority of this high quality wool is used in the production of the iconic Icebreaker range of natural fibre clothing. The Icebreaker ‘Baacode’ allows customers to trace their garment back through a transparent supply chain to the farms that grew the merino fibre from which it was made.

Mt Nicholas Station.

Register now

To register please fill out the form below.

You will receive a confirmation email with payment details and an invoice attached. You can then deposit the fee using internet banking. Your registration will only be complete after payment.

If you have to cancel your participation, the following cancellation conditions apply:

  • Cancellation before 15 December 2014: Full refund
  • Cancellation between 15 December 2014 and 28 February 2015: 50% refund of the total fee
  • Cancellation after 28 February 2015: no refund
  • Delegates may substitute in lieu of cancellation, and no additional fees will apply
  • The cancellation must be submitted in writing

In case we have to cancel the symposium for any reason, a full refund will be provided.



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The regular fee for the programme is $5,300 NZD + GST. It covers tuition, case materials, 3 nights hotel accommodation and all meals.

Receive discounts for multiple delegates

  • The standard price for one delegate is $5,300 NZD + GST
  • Every second delegate representing the same organisation pays a reduced fee of $5,000 NZD + GST
  • Every third and subsequent delegate only pays $4,800 NZD + GST

Need help?
For further assistance, please contact
Grace Johnstone
call +64 (0)3 477 6375
or send us an email

The location

The memorable scenery and atmosphere of Queenstown will add to a valuable experience.

Queenstown, New Zealand is the Southern Hemisphere’s premier four season lake and alpine resort. Surrounded by majestic mountains and nestled on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu, Queenstown’s colourful autumn scenery is inspiring and revitalising.

Set on 500 acres, Millbrook Resort is a five star accommodation resort in Queenstown, New Zealand – the perfect venue for the intensive Symposium programme. Outside the Symposium timetable we hope you will make the most of their facilities which include a 27 hole championship golf course, award winning day spa, health and fitness centre with outdoor hot pool, heated swimming pool, mountain bikes and much more. Only a 20 minute drive from Queenstown and two minutes from the nearby historic goldmining village of Arrowtown. We do hope you return home feeling refreshed and revived.

Millbrook Resort, Queenstown, NZ.

Photo credit: Millbrook Resort

The event hosts

AbacusBio Limited is hosting the Queenstown Agribusiness Symposium.

AbacusBio Limited are market leaders in agribusiness consulting and associated new business development. AbacusBio provides consultancy services in the areas of Agribusiness, Genetics and Breeding, and Biotechnology, helping their clients grow their agribusiness through innovative science and commercial expertise. Learn more about AbacusBio »

Anna Campbell Partner, AbacusBio

Anna Campbell. Anna is passionate about using clever, commercial science to improve the position of New Zealand’s agricultural export industry globally. She is a strong advocate for science and industry working together to move New Zealand ahead economically, but believes this must be driven by trusted, long-term business relationships and commercial imperatives which need to be understood by both sides.

“The Harvard Agribusiness Executive Seminar in Shanghai was both practical and inspiring. The challenging and invigorating case study approach helped me to evaluate company strategy and decisions with multiple lenses, but even more importantly it made me realise that the big opportunities are attainable. On my return I saw the need for more New Zealand executives to have exposure to global thinking, and to be more ambitious for their companies. Global food security is one of the most important issues facing our generation. There are significant international opportunities for food producing nations and companies with a lot of knowledge and IP around farming and food processing. It is a matter of how we productise that knowledge.“

Peter Fennessy Partner, AbacusBio

Peter Fennessy. Peter works with clients in development of business strategy, business investment and intellectual property strategy, and in the evaluation and valuation of technologies. This is mainly in the agri-bio, biotechnology and agri-tech areas.

“As New Zealanders involved in agribusiness, we see the need for ongoing exposure to international agribusiness developments. As a group, New Zealand agribusiness people are well-travelled, but this is usually very purpose-oriented, and we see benefits in enabling us, to stop, think and reflect more. The Queenstown Agribusiness Symposium is a programme designed to provide an opportunity for executives interested in both personal professional development and growing their agri- or food business to spend some structured time thinking and reflecting.”

In 2012, both Anna Campbell and Peter Fennessy, Senior Consultants at AbacusBio, attended international agribusiness symposiums (Harvard Agribusiness Executive Seminar in Shanghai and Alltech Agribusiness Summit in Kentucky), utilising the Harvard Business School case study approach.

Both Anna and Peter were very enthusiastic about their experiences and wanted others in the Asia Pacific region to share in the inspiration, knowledge and network creation they gained by attending these courses. This led them to establish a programme with the same style of learning to be held in New Zealand. The inaugural event was held in 2013 and, given the excellent feedback, they intend to offer this course biennially.


Mary Shelman. Mary Shelman is the Director of Harvard Business School’s Agribusiness Program which includes the renowned HBS Agribusiness Seminar, an executive education programme that attracts more than 200 CEOs and senior managers from the world’s top food and agribusiness firms each year. She has led similar programmes for Harvard Business School and other organisations in Europe, Latin America and Asia.

Shelman is known as a strategic pathfinder in the agribusiness sector. She offers a particular competency in diagnosing the forces of change shaping the future of global food and agribusiness and in identifying transformational approaches.

Working with the CEOs of industry-leading firms such as Nestlé, Monsanto, Bunge, Fonterra, Olam, Alltech, Zespri, and Yum! China, Mary has authored more than 50 case studies focusing on situations of strategic change and transformational leadership. Her work has been published in Harvard Business Review, Market Leader, and the International Food and Agribusiness Management Review.

Actively engaging with these themes, she has served as non-executive director of a number of fast-growth food and agribusiness firms. These include 10 years as Chairman of the Board of RiceTec, Inc., now the leading rice seed company in the US with more than 60% market share, and board membership of RiceTec AG, Stiftung Furst Liechtenstein, and the USA Rice Millers Association as well as a number of other organisations. Currently she advises the Irish government and its Food Marketing Board (Bord Bia) on the future direction of the Irish food industry, co-authoring Pathways for Growth which has played a pivotal role in revitalizing the sector and resulted in the creation of a country-wide sustainability charter.

Shelman is a popular keynote speaker on global trends in food and agribusiness. She is the current President of the International Food and Agribusiness Management Association (IFAMA). A native of Kentucky where she still owns a farm, Shelman holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering with High Distinction from the University of Kentucky, an MBA with Distinction from Harvard Business School, and has completed further studies in economics and marketing as a Dean’s Doctoral Fellow at Harvard University.

Prof. Damien P. McLoughlin. Prof. Damien P. McLoughlin is Anthony C. Cunningham Professor of Marketing and Associate Dean at UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, Ireland. He has served on the faculty of the S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University, the Indian School of Business and in the executive education division at Harvard Business School.

McLoughlin has published more than seventy papers on strategic marketing issues and written more than a dozen case studies, mainly relating to leadership issues in the food and agribusiness sector. As an executive educator, consultant and keynote speaker, he has worked with a number of the world’s leading firms including Alltech, Allianz, Bord Bia (The Irish Food Board), CB Richard Ellis, Charoen Pokphand Group (CP), Google, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft and Smurfit Kappa Group.

A former Dean of UCD Smurfit School, Damien is an experienced non-executive Director and advisor to senior management teams in the food, agribusiness and high technology sectors. His work is highly regarded and has been recognised with a number of domestic and international awards and distinctions. A regular media commentator, he has contributed to a range of print and broadcast outlets including Sky News, RTE, The Financial Times, The Irish Times and The Sunday Times. McLoughlin holds a Bachelor of Business Studies degree from Dublin City University, a Master of Business Studies degree from University College Dublin, and a PhD in Marketing from Lancaster University (UK).

The 2013 event | Reflections

The 2013 Queenstown Agribusiness Symposium was a great success. Thank you to all of the particpants for their collaboration, energy and insights.

Really enjoyed it, would definitely recommend it to others in my organisation if it was happening again and would try and attend again myself.
- Craig Osborne, GM Strategy and Communications, PGG Wrightson

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the symposium.  I met some amazing and talented people in the sector and I did in fact learn much from the symposium itself and from other participants.  New Zealand is such a small player in the international arena, but by all accounts we do exceedingly well in many areas of agribusiness.  Having the opportunity to be able to network with industry leaders was a highlight. Thank you.
- Adele Tierney, Strategy & Policy Manager, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa

The QAS was simply astounding. Great facilitators and case studies - all very relevant to NZ - and excellent learning systems, readings, small workshops, facilitation and reflection.  A smart approach. The AbacusBio team that managed and run the programme should be acknowledged - good people doing good things.
- Wayne Mulligan, CEO, Fomana Capital

It was an excellent insightful few days and definitely worth my time and investment. It shows how powerful skilled global academics can be to advance your thinking.
- Richard Green, Director, Green Investments Ltd

Fantastic event. A learning experience like nothing I have attended before with exposure, understanding and insight into risks and strategies of some of the world’s great food and agribusinesses.
- Guy Blundell, Managing Director, Compass Agribusiness Management Ltd

Highly insightful few days, met some great leaders in agribusiness and well run. Both Mary and Damien as facilitators were engaging and fun. The organisation and comms from Mel were ideal too. Well done.
- Rowan Calder, Livestock Farming Programme Manager, Silver Fern Farms Ltd

I have been to many conferences before but the level of engagement I experienced and witnessed during every session of this event was on a different level.  I was fully engaged for 18 hours a day - there were some late nights reading! And there was no nodding off in after lunch sessions. The case study approach requires you to think, interpret, challenge and be challenged. Four weeks on, I feel that my understanding of the issues faced by our own industry is deeper and my learnings are already influencing some of the conversations I’m...
- Peter Hocking, Financial Controller, Silver Fern Farms Ltd

The 2013 event.

If you want to see more of the photos from the event, click here to see them on DropBox.


For any questions or feedback, please contact Grace Johnstone
call +64 (0)3 477 6375
or email

Queenstown Agribusiness Symposium