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Matthew Gunningham

Nuffield Australia 2017 Scholarship winner


Matthew Gunningham, from Mawbanna (near Burnie) in Tasmania, received a 2017 Nuffield Scholarship supported by the Australian Dairy Conference and Nuffield Australia.

He investigated people management and motivation, specifically how to build great teams in agricultural enterprises, many of which are getting larger and more geographically spread.

Matthew was particularly interested in how to ensure there is alignment between the goals of a business, and the day-to-day actions of the people who work within them.

Matthew and his wife, Pippa wholly own and manage three dairy farms (Gunningham Farms), which collectively run 2600 milking cows. They also manage three more dairy farms (The Dairy Trust) in partnership with another family, running a further 1750 cows.  In addition, they are shareholders, with no hands-on involvement, in another dairy farm with 1000 cows.

Matthew and Pippa have five children, Henry (aged 17), Amelia (aged 16). Olivia (aged 12), Elsa (aged 6) and William (aged 4).

Matthew’s research is particularly relevant given the dairy industry is now comprised of so many different ownership structures, often involving multiple farms.

He planned to explore his belief that the people side of an agricultural business has to be right in order to grow a substantial enterprise.

“I think many farmers are technically very good and have an excellent grasp of their particular area, but at the same time can lack the ‘softer’ skills needed to deal with people,” Matthew said.

“These ‘softer’ skills are critical too.  And the ability to effectively balance them with technical skills is something top performing businesses, in a whole range of industries, have managed to achieve.  I wanted to understand how to create these conditions and then how to apply this to our industry.”

Matthew travelled to New Zealand, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland and South America.

Location: Mawbanna, Tasmania
Scholarship report:
Verbal presentation: Watch video
Media profile:

Matthew Gunningham was supported by:


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