Promotion Opportunities Open Doors for Valeria

posted on Friday, April 29, 2022

“I’ve never been given a negative answer when asking about other opportunities or positions,” said Valeria Leija Bustos, southern Iowa sow retention specialist for Iowa Select Farms. “All the doors are open for us to rise as high as we want. I have the same chance to develop my skills and grow within the company as any other employee. That is something I never thought I would be able to do, but Iowa Select Farms has made that possible.”

Valeria has experienced the life changing benefits of Iowa Select Farms’ internal promotion policies firsthand. During her six years at Iowa Select Farms, she has held various roles including day one caretaker, assistant breeding department head.  After gaining this valuable experience, she was able to take on a management role she is especially passionate about: overseeing 24 different farms as the sow retention specialist for southern and north central Iowa.

This evolution from an entry level position to a leadership role isn’t unique to Valeria’s story. At Iowa Select Farms, we place high value on creating a work environment that promotes the development of our employees through job training and internal promotion policies which gives hardworking employees many opportunities to rise within the company. This priority becomes clear when you look at the data.

For example, in 2021, 40% of our internal promotions were females, which is higher than our company’s overall female demographic of 34%. Additionally, 41% of our 2021 promotions were given to Latino employees, up from 31% in 2019.

val holds a piglet

Valeria is a shining success story that represents both of these important demographics. Before joining the Iowa Select Farms family in August of 2016, she grew up in Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico where she first discovered her passion for animals.

“I have loved animals since I was a little girl,” she explained. “That makes me so grateful for this opportunity at Iowa Select. It opened a door for me to be a part of this industry that I love even though I had no prior pig experience.”

After attending vet school in Mexico and running a small animal hospital, Valeria heard about Iowa Select from a college friend and moved to the United States to start her career in the pork industry. Because of the opportunities Iowa Select Farms provides, she’s been here ever since.

“Iowa Select Farms gave me the chance to see all aspects of the production system and broaden my knowledge in the pig industry,” she said. “They not only gave me the knowledge I needed to understand pig care but helped me identify what I am truly passionate about, and that’s why I’ve stayed and grown so much.”

In addition to being promoted to a leadership role in a production setting, Valeria was also selected by her peers to serve in a leadership position on the company’s TN council. This group of Iowa Select Farms employees are on a TN visa and work hard to ensure fellow visa-holding employees are heard within the company. Their work is essential to helping new Latino employees adapt to the different cultural environment they encounter when they move to the United States. This initial investment in TN employees sets them up for long term success.

“With all Iowa Select does, you feel like you have a whole community around you, and you don’t feel alone. You build those relationships with people who have experiences similar to yours. Iowa Select Farms understands the culture shock coming from another country can create, and they do an outstanding job helping us adjust, making sure we feel comfortable and giving us the resources to navigate new changes.”

Between experiencing this culture shock firsthand, and coming into the company with no pig background, Valeria is thankful Iowa Select Farms supports new employees and gives a fair chance for promotion to anyone who is willing to put in the work to advance their career.

“Iowa Select Farms is an awesome company, and you can grow as much as you want,” said Valeria. “You just have to be willing to put in the work.”