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New business manager brings winning combo to the team

Mike Matthews’ energy, commercial experience and rapport with people are a winning combination for driving change and building on the value Perrin Ag delivers its clients.

Mike (31) is the firm’s new Business Manager. He joined Perrin Ag after nearly a decade working in supply chain and logistics roles with dairy giant Fonterra and GPS positioning system company, Trimble Navigation. Combine that experience with a Bachelor of Management Studies in PR and supply chain management and he’s well-equipped to deliver the goods. 

“In management speak, I’m the guy that optimises processes. But when you break it down, ‘processes’ is a shorthand way of saying, people asking people to do tasks with other people to achieve something worthwhile for other people,” he laughs.

That’s a simplified take on the value Mike brings to the firm and its clients. A lot of requests, task activities, reporting, measuring and feedback happens along the way. But at the end of the day, process optimisation is about helping people do their jobs well and make them feel great about their part in contributing to the bigger picture. At Perrin Ag, that means partnering with farmers and growers to help their businesses thrive.

Looking and Listening

Before systems and processes can be improved, they must be understood. Which is why Mike insists his first job is looking and listening. 

“If I’m going to find the opportunities and betterments, I need to get my head around what the processes and structures are. There’s only so much I can learn from the paperwork, so I find excuses to have lots of conversations. That’s the best way to find out how our team is currently working.

“I’m looking at who’s responsible for what? And the reporting lines and how regularly reporting happens. I also want to know how people see their jobs and how they see the business overall. What are the obstacles that might keep them from succeeding? How do we know when we’ve been successful and how are those wins celebrated?

“I can learn all that by talking to people. Only then can I see where the change opportunities lie.”

Change can often create tension, which is a normal human response. Mike reckons that tension is a good thing, but it must be managed.

“Change can be difficult, and I made mistakes managing that in my earlier years. Those experiences have taught me how to use change tension in positive ways.”

Willingness from the top

It is an organisational truism that a company’s internal culture develops from the top down. Mike understands that hierarchical close-mindedness and leadership resistance can render a business stuck and stagnant. Something he has not found at Perrin Ag.

“I have been impressed by how the firm’s directors and team leaders have responded to my ideas and suggestions. Their appetite for change is refreshing and lays a strong foundation for the business’s growth.”

If change is going to come, Mike firmly believes he’s got to be the most enthusiastic person in the room and the one who invites people to join in.

“It’s not enough for me to see the improvement possibilities. The rest of the team needs to have buy-in and be motivated to make good things happen.

“There is such goodwill at Perrin Ag. I’m confident that together we’re going to achieve great things for our clients and the wider agribusiness sector.”