Updated: Apr 10
Our natural desire as humans is to connect - we are always people first and professionals second. Something we often forget when in disagreement over issues that sit in conflict with our values and livelihoods – quickly eroding trust
I am conscious I’ve jumped into this space and waxed lyrical for nearly a year now without ever formerly introducing myself. So, as my first-year closes on starting my own business for the very first time and it being the first business of its kind in New Zealand, I thought I better introduce myself.
My name is Penny Clark-Hall, I’m a daughter, sister, wife, mother, and passionate advocate for our primary sector. I have worked in the film and television industry, been a video journalist in the parliamentary press gallery, a communicator for Federated Farmers and now Ravensdown. My dad, brother, and husband are all farmers and I’ve worked in and around the sector since I was old enough to milk a cow, move a sheep and plant a tree. A prerequisite of my dad, that you must contribute. Giving his children the job of milking the family cow for the morning’s breakfast, where my brother and dad would scrape the cream off the top for their cronies. God how historic does that sound!!! My earliest memories of farming, which my family loves to dine out on, is mis-mothering lambs in the tailing yard because I insisted each one loved me and needed to be hugged to the point they would follow me home. Seeing a talent to be nurtured, dad then put me in charge of getting the sheepdog puppies comfortable with human contact, involving a single strategy of smothering. It’s safe to say I’m all about the good vibes and conveniently that is what social licence is all about. It’s about how we make people feel, a people-first approach that requires authentic and consistent engagement. Creating constructive and positive stakeholder relationships that earns us trust, minus the smothering and mis-mothering of course. I’ve always loved love and making people feel good, which I guess is why I’m slightly sensitive to the digital age we live in now that gives people a pass on bullying and fallacious arguments (ad hominem) where the point is not argued but the man (person if we’re being PC). A lot of it I’m aware comes from fear and good intentions to write what is perceived as wrong but to be honest I’m so sick of it. Attacking each other is not the way to go about creating systemic change. We are not the small communities focusing on survival anymore so maybe it’s that we don’t think we need each other anymore? We can all fall into the trap where the aggressive digital culture can push us below the line, but this is now leaking into the real world. Where do we draw the line? My why, is to bring empathy and respect back into the business culture. Agriculture is my passion, but it doesn’t stop there. The skills are the same no matter what business or industry you work in. Without people, we don’t have a society, business or economy. It’s time to value and connect with them.