Rising from Intern to Department Leader

posted on Tuesday, April 19, 2022

“I love working for Iowa Select Farms because they really do care about their people and developing them,” said Holly Wampler, the head of the farrowing department at Sandy Hill sow farm. “They prioritize giving back, not only with fun events and goodies, but also by investing in employees and teaching them to become leaders.”

Holly has taken advantage of every opportunity that’s been offered to her at Iowa Select Farms, and it’s paid off in a big way. She started at the company as an intern in 2019, and in less than three years, she has become the head of the farrowing department at one of the company’s largest farms. The secret to her success? She credits hard work and the leadership skills she’s gained from our PeopleCare Leadership Program (PLP).

PLP works to nurture leadership and professional development throughout multiple levels in the company. The yearlong courses offered through the program provide employees with skills and lessons they can apply in both their daily work and personal lives, giving them the tools to grow as a leader, regardless of their position, department or tenure with the company.

In 2021, 141 employees participated in the program’s first track, Leading Yourself, and 61 employees participated in the second track, Leading Others.

Holly was a member of the Leading Yourself group and celebrated a successful graduation from the program in November of 2021. She learned many skills along the way that she has been able to apply to her role leading a team of nine caretakers at Sandy Hill sow farm. However, her time learning about leadership skills at Iowa Select Farms started long before PLP and can be traced back to when she was an intern.

“I truly loved my internship experience,” said Holly. “It allowed me to see all aspects of the company and helped me better understand what my interests were. Even though pig production was the main focus, we had the opportunity to interact with other leaders in the company. They helped us develop a diverse skill set that went beyond the barn.”

The skills Holly learned during her internship set her up for success as she took on other roles within the company. She brought everything full circle when she focused on deepening her understanding of those skills through the PLP program.

“I learned a lot during PLP, but the two biggest things would have to be communication and patience,” explained Holly. “Most people know what those terms means, but it can be harder to truly live them out. The Habitudes we read and discussed helped change the way I look at these ideas. That means I implement them more effectively which has positively impacted my team.”

Holly’s strong leadership has also captured the attention of other leaders within the company.

“Not only was Holly a quick learner when caring for the pigs, but she also showed a strong interest in growing within the company. With hard work and commitment, she has accomplished her goals,” said Max Klepper, Holly’s manager at Sandy Hill sow farm. “She has demonstrated great persistence and dedication to the farm and her team. Although there were plenty of long days and early mornings, she stayed focused on her goal and became the farrowing department head within two years.”

Holly is just one example of many employees at Iowa Select Farms that have taken advantage of our leadership opportunities and been willing to grow and learn in the workplace.

“Employees like Holly that demonstrate respect for their coworkers, proficiency in making good decisions and dedication to their farm and employees are able to see just how quickly things will fall in their favor,” said Max. “At the end of the day, it's very rewarding to see employees grow into leaders in such a short amount of time.”

holly holds a piglet