Posted by Lesli Stasiek | 05/11/2019
(Excerpted from Elanco Head of Global Strategic Talent Management, Lesli Stasiek’s speech in the Blue Room at the National FFA Convention)
My dad, has worked during his entire career in agriculture, and my uncle still lives on the farm that my grandparents built. Agriculture is my heritage. But, I’ve never run a combine. I’ve never fretted over harvests. I’ve never watched forecasts and gotten up early to milk. I grew up in a suburb where everything was paved. Yet, my talents and career are firmly entrenched in “ag”. Let me tell you why this is important…..
Diversity of thought is arguably the most critical factor in innovation. We are in the midst of a time when entire industries rise and fall faster than ever. The home video rental industry once ruled the weekends. In a few short years renting DVDs has become an anomaly. Why didn’t they see streaming services coming? Why couldn’t they adapt when they were right in the middle of the home entertainment industry? They didn’t have people in the room who were able to think differently about what the future might look like.
Agriculture companies need people with ag AND non-ag backgrounds to continue to tackle future challenges. To be a leader in this industry, it will be important to surround yourself with people who don’t look, think or act like you in order to remain a leader. Will you innovate together? Or stagnate?
People are taught to dream in specific goals. I’m going to tell you….. don’t. I have had a variety of different roles over my career, but interestingly, I didn’t set out to do any of them. I allowed myself to dream differently though and opened my mind to different opportunities that blended my passions, strengths and strategic career development. Don’t settle for a doing what you feel like you are supposed to do. There are so many job possibilities in this industry that will enable you to hone your talents and propel the ag industry forward – just in a different way that you may have imagined.
Think, dream and act differently, so you can create a space where you’re a person who guides, not a person who assumes. Create a space where people can ask questions. Scan for talent. Scan for passion. Embrace your heritage while leaning into diversity. It will propel both you and the industry forward.