Farrowing Department Head from Mexico
“To be a successful leader, first and foremost, you need to lead by example,” said Denia Perez-Barron, farrowing department head at Wright Sow 25 and member of the Iowa Select Farms TN Leadership Council. “Good leaders establish trust and honest communication with their peers. They listen, help when needed and know how important it is to never stop learning, teaching and improving.”
A native of Ciudad Valles, San Luis Potosi, Mexico, Denia never imagined she’d be working on a pig farm in Dows, Iowa, but four years after joining the Iowa Select Farms team, she’s extremely proud of how far she’s come.
After graduating with a degree in food science, Denia applied for the international recruitment program at Iowa Select Farms and was placed at a sow farm working as a breeding lead. Although she came equipped with experience in animal nutrition and food ingredients, there was still a big learning curve when it came to animal care.
“I remember being surprised at how large the sows were,” she chuckled. “Throughout these almost four years I’ve learned so many things, gained a ton of experience and had some of the best people working right alongside me. I can’t thank them enough for their patience with me.”
In her current role, Denia oversees the farrowing department and works closely the farm’s team of eleven other individuals. She and her team take their commitment to animal care very seriously.
“We work every day to ensure that our sows and piglets have the best care and attention possible,” she said. “This last year we were able to increase total born and exceed the targets given to us by the company. Like many farms, we had our share of health setbacks, but everyone is working really hard to get our herd healthy again.”
Even in her current role as department head, Denia credits her success to the people around here.
“I have the absolute best people working alongside me,” she said. “They are very hardworking, dedicated and not afraid of any challenge. Additionally, our farm’s breeding department is great and one of the most important keys to our success. Everyone works well together.”
Last June when the company said they were forming a TN Leadership Council, Denia was excited to get involved as a way to continue serving her team, TN peers and community.
“I thought it was amazing that the company wanted to create a group to specifically listen to the thoughts and ideas our community of TN professionals had,” said Denia. “It meant a lot and showed me that they truly cared. We continue to find ways to get better for our employees and this is just one example of that.”
As a member of the TN Leadership Council, Denia is a part of quarterly meetings with human resources and members of senior production leadership. TN leaders meet prior to the meetings to set the agenda, which is a culmination of thoughts and ideas they’ve heard or shared with their peers. Recent accomplishments of the Council include holiday celebrations, sports leagues and improved downtime recommendations after international trips.
“I’m so proud of this group and their accomplishments in such a short period of time,” said Carolina Weispfenning, HR Specialist. “The TN leaders have become a steady, reliable resource for our employees, whether at work or helping someone acclimate to a new community. I love how they work together, are active and extremely engaged in everything they do.”
Currently, the Council is working on a sports tournament that would gather employees from across the state, planning for their 2020 Christmas celebrations and preparing for the Hampton Latino Festival.
“Every day I fall more in love with my job and try to put forth my best effort,” she said. “My success is a result of people believing in me and my potential. As a department head and TN leader, I hope to be able to share my knowledge with others. I am happy to be in a position that allows me to help people and develop their potential, just as my team did for me.”