Agri-Women's Development Trust

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Growing primary industry leaders

Escalator is an established leadership and governance programme for women involved in primary industries and rural communities.  It equips them with the tools, confidence and support they need to successfully lead and govern in their chosen fields. 

Participants are engaged and challenged by cutting-edge content delivered by leading experts in a highly-supportive environment of personalised learning.

The coaching, support and mentoring participants receive from AWDT, industry leaders and each other put Escalator in a class of its own.

Each year 14 women are selected for the programme which begins in February and ends in November. If you are interested in the 2019 programme please email or phone 06 375 8180.
Escalator 2019 applications will open in July 2018. 

Download the 2018 programme flyer here.


Her Story - Escalator Alumni

  • Dawn Sangster
  • Heather Atkinson
  • Charmaine O’Shea
  • Hinerangi Edwards
  • Dawn Sangster

    Escalator was the catalyst for Dawn to contribute at higher levels. Five months after graduating she was elected as a director of the Alliance Group Board. Six months later, Dawn was awarded a NZ Institute of Directors’ 2012 Aspiring Director Award. Read more...

  • Heather Atkinson

    A mixed pastoral and organic farmer, Heather began Escalator knowing that to affect the positive changes she believed were needed in sustainable land use and improved environmental outcomes, she needed to build her skills. Read more...

  • Charmaine O’Shea

    Charmaine started Escalator with a clear goal to develop governance and leadership skills that would enable her to pursue a directorship in the dairy industry. However, the programme delivered much more than simply those two skills. Read more...

  • Hinerangi Edwards

    Before starting Escalator, Hinerangi had been a director of a corporate land-based company for four years. She had completed a company director course and felt Escalator could provide her with a deeper knowledge base and grow her agri-leader networks. Read more...

Programme content

Five core development areas focus on the why, what and how of leadership through Wellington-based modules, distance learning, professional coaching and practical application.

  1. Building individual potential
  2. Leadership
  3. Governance, Strategy, Finance
  4. Communication, Decision making, Critical thinking
  5. Future focus, Media training, Graduation

Graduates complete the programme with:

  • tools, confidence and support required to take on new governance and leadership roles
  • ability to influence and effectively engage at higher levels
  • a clear vision of where they want to engage, goals and an action plan
  • a significant support network that includes a mentor where appropriate.

Who is an Escalator woman?

An Escalator woman is defined by her desire to lead and contribute rather than her career or position. She has invested significant time and energy into her community, career or business and wants to develop her skills.  She:

  • may already be involved in leadership but wants to be more effective
  • is often at the forefront of local issues and is prepared to step up and engage
  • may be a grass-roots farmer, a community-minded contributor or employed by a large company.

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