Scottish farm co-ops apex launches new round of leadership programme

The SAOS scheme, entering its third year, promises ‘the essential tools to navigate an ever-evolving industry’

Applications are open for new round of agri co-op leadership training in Scotland, with a call out for “driven self-starters keen to learn how best to embrace change and uncertainty and lead with confidence’.

Sector body SAOS (the Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society) has just held a graduation celebration for the most recent cohort of its Growing Tomorrow’s Leaders programme, which is now entering its third year.

The programme is aimed at individuals from a range of backgrounds including large rural organisations, farmer-owned co-operatives, SMEs and the self-employed, offering “the essential tools to navigate an ever-evolving industry”.

“We want to improve resilience, efficiency and productivity, so we’re searching for leaders who are not only willing to adapt but are eager to drive positive change within their organisations and communities,” said CEO Tim Bailey.

“At SAOS, we recognise the vital role that collaboration plays in fostering innovation and resilience within Scotland’s rural and agricultural sectors. Our programme stands out as it is not only developed for the sector but by the sector itself, ensuring its relevance and effectiveness in addressing the real challenges faced by our industry.”

Related: Report from the SAOS annual conference

SAOS says there is “a pressing need for resilient leadership within Scotland’s rural and agricultural landscape”, adding its programme “nurtures flexible mindsets, establishes mutually supportive networks, and fosters innovative thinking among participants”.

Facilitator Stephen Hibbard, from the Leadership Factory, added: “Leadership is critical in setting direction, organising delivery, and creating a healthy working culture in any organisation. Great leadership is a mindset that can be cultivated at any stage of your career.”

Graduates include Niall Evans, industry partnership manager at training, qualifications and career guidance provider Lantra, said: “Growing Tomorrow’s Leaders is an excellent programme that will enhance understanding and development of leadership skills, whether seeking promotion, personal or business development, or further developing and complimenting existing skills. GTL has reminded me of the learning and skills I developed in my career in the college sector and helped me to build on these, bringing them up to date in the context of my current role.”

SAOS has partnereed with key industry figures on the programme, including sponsors NFU Mutual and NFU Scotland and expert delivery partners Tack TMI Leadership Factory.

Intake is deliberately limited to small numbers so early applications for the 2024/25 programme, which close in early May, are recommended. For more information and to apply visit