Suffolk Sheep Society CEO, Barrie Turner’s update to members.

What being a CEO is all about…

You can read books about being a CEO and they all start to sound the same after a while. It’s all a collection of buzz words and things that I am like. Books are fine but now they are becoming out of fashion and being taken over by the internet and social media.
On many occasions all the information in the world tells you what you already know. Putting this knowledge into practice is the key to being a successful CEO. That’s what I try to follow as a model.

The CEO mindset is more about putting things into action than it is about reading buzzwords. It’s about action and reflection. Act, reflect, adapt. Never give up and continue to acquire skills and knowledge. I need to be an expert at every level of our business, even to understand the role of the office cleaner as she is as important as the CEO and has a part to play in the business. My aim is to become an expert in every level of our business, and that will tell me exactly how to run it the most efficient way.

One of my weaker areas is Finance, and I am very grateful to the expertise that the Finance Committee has brought to the table. I am not particularly comfortable with spreadsheets and accounts packages so this area has taken some focus over the last three months. I am part way through becoming a Xero Advisor with self-paced learning I hope to come out the other side with a greater understanding of what our accounts software will do for us. However, putting that learning to good use is key to it being worthwhile and my confidence with the numbers can only grow with better understanding.

Being a CEO all about understanding people. I have spent the first-year meeting as many people that I could, understanding where we are as a business in their eyes and now, I must act on it to make things better throughout 2024 and beyond. I have also spent a great deal of time understanding all the people in our industry, identifying people and organisations that can help us develop and keep the upward trend of attracting pedigree breeders and commercial breeders back to using Suffolk genetics to improve their businesses. The key is if, you understand your customers, and who can help you have everything you need to succeed.

Following on from the success of the Finance committee making everything transparent and open from the finance side we have formed a Sales Review committee. The role of the committee is to peel back to basics everything we do at the four society sales and to build them up again to be a more successful, streamlined, and inclusive function for our membership. We are reviewing our DNA processes which a great deal of unrest from everyone about the double testing has come up and we are working on, a recommendation to Council on making it possible to have the sire verification and the Scrapie status of an animal before the sale. All this at a reduced cost, all things being equal, which is vitally important not to lose sight of in what we recognise are very challenging times. We look forward to bringing these into force for the 2024 sale season.

The new financial year started on the 1st of October 2023 with a fresh and phased budget that we will use as our barometer in 2024. The CEO has been tasked to look at every item of spend and make sure we are getting the most out of the funds that you provide us with. We need to make sure that these funds are channelled into the correct avenues to take the breed forward and providing you with the tools to sell what you go to great pains to produce. You will be seeing more information hitting the press and publications that will be sales aids for you at farm level to help convert more people back to Suffolks in the next 12 months.  

The benefit of sharing the load continues with the advent of a Suffolk Youth Development Committee. This is a committee made up from non-Council members and those who have expressed a keen interest in developing a strong and vibrant scheme for all ages. Council have agreed to ask the younger members of the Society to help us with building a scheme they would support and make it attractive for our younger members to participate in. We will hold our first meeting to set the ball rolling in January and we are very grateful to Agrimin who will be sponsoring the Suffolk Youth to the tune of £1,000.00 in 2024.

1886 Heritage Suffolk Lamb is moving forward slowly with other essential tasks taking precedence but I’m very much looking forward to progressing this more when there is a bit more time available in the first quarter of 2024.  We have our trademark and certification mark protected as Intellectual Property of the company. The next stage is to build a model that can demonstrate income. This is income for every part of the supply chain by making use of the speed of growth and extra length of carcass that Suffolks have in the armoury. We are in the process of joining CIEL (Centre for Innovation excellence in Livestock) who oversee a huge portfolio of researchers, scientists, industry partners and research facilities. The information available and opportunity this offers has no bounds to help us highlight the Suffolk Advantage.

There is a great deal more going on that is worthy of mention, but this update just covers some of the highlights and bigger tasks that we have undertaken, to progress in 2024.

That just leaves me to wish you all a very merry Christmas on behalf of myself and the office team, a successful lambing to the early lambers and we will be making sure that we bring added value to you and making 2024 a very prosperous and happy one for all.

Barrie Turner, CEO