Young Leaders featuring former interns contributing to our business

posted on Thursday, October 6, 2016

We’re picking up on our Young Leader Series featuring former interns who are now leaders and key contributors to our business. While our bright young panel has been very successful in their first few years at Iowa Select Farms, they candidly speak to a few challenges they have worked hard to overcome.

Any employee—seasoned or recent graduate—working towards becoming a manager or supervisor must be a good trainer, be able foster teamwork, communicate effectively and coach and... provide good feedback to their people. And for our younger leaders they are also learning the system and applying what they have learned in their swine nutrition, animal husbandry and breeding and reproduction classes to a living and breathing, 24/7 commercial swine system.

“I received great technical training and experience during my internship,” said Rebecca Baker, a former intern in the sow system. “Now through the Production Leadership Program, I’ll also work on leaderships skills, how to build a team, how to coach and how to give feedback.”

Gilt Selection Specialist, Eric Hensley, and a former intern, said a challenge is learning how to get the best out of each person so that the farm also performs at its best. “Managers are responsible for getting the right people into the right positions on the farm. Some people enjoy working on a team, other enjoy covering jobs by themselves,” said Eric. “I’ve had some really great mentors who have helped me with the people aspect, and I still learn something new every day.”

“Experience and establishing trust, those are things you have to get to as quickly as possible,” said Alex Dohrmann, who interned in 2015 with Iowa Select Farms and is now a finishing supervisor. “You have to be able to build trust with everyone you work with, and while that takes time, the work needs to be done now. But I work right alongside my teams and we figure out problems together.”

As farm manager for Sow 31 near Holstein, Janea Shannon said a big challenge is developing people. I have a lot of new people on my crew and am currently developing a few into leadership positions,” said Janea. “I’ve learned that no matter how busy you are, you have to dedicate the time and resources to train and develop your technicians into leads and department heads so they can contribute at a higher level and have good job satisfaction too.”

And like any leadership role, juggling a large amount of tasks and people is a constant responsibility, said Collin Hirl, Finishing Supervisor. “Learning to keep your arms around everything, trying to manage, prioritize and not let it all fall apart is a challenge you face most days. But, you learn to roll with the punches and do your best to keep everything in line.” #billionpounds