Their Stories

Learning to lead for impact

27 August 2018

In the 12 months that have passed since Rebecca Lomman completed Course 23 of the Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP), the leader has found herself reducing the number of ‘hats’ she wears in order to have a bigger impact. It’s a change in her life that she wasn’t expecting when she first signed up for the program.

“I was playing active roles in a number of community and regional organisations, but I was pulling myself in every direction and I was seriously doubting how much impact I was really having. I knew that I needed some help and guidance to develop my leadership capabilities in a meaningful way, but also in a way that was going to be sustainable for me,” she says.

Around the same time that she started the immersive leadership program, spread across 15 months, Rebecca and her husband Rob had just opened Seed & Sprout, a premium produce store in their community of St George, Queensland.

“In retrospect, as much as it was a huge undertaking to tackle both at once, the ARLP couldn’t have come at a better time. It played such an important part in shaping who I wanted to be as a business person,” Rebecca explains.

“What I’ve been able to do following that is focus on how we can use our business as a vehicle to make positive contributions to our community.”

The plan for the business is essentially to help all members of the community to make healthy, ethical consumption choices.

“We’ve focused on how we can play a direct role in actively supporting the really talented farmers and producers that grow and make the wholesome and ethical products that we stock. We’re now looking at ways to make a really direct and positive contribution to the health and wellbeing and development of young people. We’re looking at setting up a foundation linked to the business which helps provide access to healthy options for people that may not otherwise be able to access them.”

Still in the early stages of shaping the business, Rebecca says she is inspired by the people she met during the ARLP.

“The people that we interact with and get to work with during the course of program all come from such different backgrounds and perspectives, but they have this very common trait where they’re able to diligently apply themselves to the things they’re passionate about, and as a result make great differences to their communities,” she says.

With a unique professional background spanning global finance, regional economic development, horticulture and the arts, Rebecca possesses just that “common trait” that she has identified in others. She was sponsored to take part in the ARLP by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

“I was just hoping for the very best in terms of finding a sponsor match,” she says.

“I was so pleased and feel immensely fortunate and grateful for the opportunity they gave me. That’s why I also support the ARLP scholarship position funded by alumni. There are so many people out there that you think ‘they should definitely be doing it, they would get so much from it, but which sponsor would they resonate with?’ It’s a great idea.”

Reflecting on her own journey, Rebecca says a cohort selected with a broad net is part of what makes the ARLP so effective.

“This program is for anyone who’d like to be connected to an alumni of over 1000 people – anyone who sees any value in being connected to all of those inspiring, amazing and down-to-earth leaders throughout rural Australia,” she says.

“There were also people in our cohort who weren’t living in regional or rural communities but were working in industries that supported them.

“Really it’s for anyone who admires and respects rural Australia, and if they believe in acting as a vocal and enthusiastic cheerleader.”

At the forefront of what drives Rebecca are the challenges she observes daily in country communities.

“Per capita there is a big spread in rural communities of where people sit in terms of wealth and access to services. That’s always going to be a challenge,” she says.

“I love living in a remote community despite all of those challenges, and I wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else.

“Having done a program like the ARLP it makes you realise there are so many wonderful people out there that really do care about, and have the capability to make big differences to rural communities. I feel really optimistic about how those challenges can be overcome, particularly with the help of a program like the ARLP. We’re getting the support and resources to become effective leaders and advocates for positive change.”

More information

Applications are currently open for ARLP Course 26 and will close on 30 September 2018.

For information about the ARLP, see Australian Rural Leadership Program.