The leadership development of the production system has changed dramatically in recent decades. I’m not an old man, but just over a generation ago I regularly visited pig farms with my dad. He is a veterinarian and my role during these first visits was simple. I was in charge of catching all the pigs in the open lots and keeping them while Dad vaccinated and treated them. This introduction to the hog industry led me to containment barn jobs as I got older and in many ways my hands-on training in the hog industry was self-taught while working on local farms.
My how things have changed since those days. My brother is only 10 years younger than me, but by the time he was at the same developmental age, the whole industry had moved on. Gone are the open opportunities to visit farms, as new biosecurity procedures have dramatically improved the industry’s ability to prevent the introduction of disease. Therefore, this limited the early exposure to the pork industry that many of us were used to in the ‘good old days’.
Change is inevitable, and while we must seek opportunities to expose future production leaders to animal agriculture at an early age, we must also be realistic that training and developing the next generation of leaders will have to be done in a different way. .
Animal farming has always been passed down from family member to family member, and those with the capacity to train the next generation in this way should continue to do so. The rest of us, however, must adapt and evolve. Producers must be determined to identify their future leaders and offer them different development opportunities.
Family farms must have the intention of creating learning opportunities and enabling the younger generation to be exposed to decision-making in the business. As a major player in the pork industry, we at Carthage consider it an essential part of our mission to support this process and to create formal training programs to support producers’ efforts towards the development of the next generation.
There are many different ways to develop yourself, and while ‘on-the-job’ training opportunities are an essential part of the learning process, formal training programs are also essential for building knowledge and confidence in the student. learner. We see formal training programs to develop future leadership of the production system as a gap in the industry, a gap that we intend to fill for our producers.
Two years ago, we embarked on the development of a training program called “Emerging Leaders Program”. We invited the next generation of leaders in our client’s operations to be part of a peer group, meeting every few months for a combination of technical and leadership training conducted by industry experts. In addition to formal classroom training, we felt that a routine review and updates on ‘hot topics’ as well as the informal learning that arises from social opportunities and hallway discussions would be a benefit. huge benefit for talented young leaders in our industry. As has been the case with almost everything over the past two years, we have battled COVID-19 regulations and restrictions, but the feedback from our initial group of emerging leaders was consistent – they told us it was valuable and was worth their time and effort to attend no matter what hurdles you had to overcome to get together.
In addition to the challenges of COVID-19, we have had to overcome all the obstacles that prevent more of these formal development programs from being available. Time and money are finite resources for which there are never competing priorities. Fortunately, our Carthage management team believe in the value proposition of this training program, and we were fortunate to find sponsors for each module. This has enabled us to deliver a high level technical training through a combination of our in-house team in Carthage as well as industry experts with a wide variety of technical trainings. Simply put, thanks to the generous contributions of our sponsors and Carthage executives, we’ve been able to put our industry’s best thinkers in front of some of its most talented young production leaders.
This month, we completed our last module with the first group Emerging Leaders. It was bittersweet to see them graduate! While the trainers and participants alike were sad to complete the course, it was incredibly satisfying to see the individual growth that has occurred over the past two years. Our last module was titled “Working in the company vs. working in the company”, and it perfectly captured all of our previous lessons implementing our key learnings on topics, such as key performance indicators, being a leader that people will want to follow, managing health in an integrated production system and using data analytics to identify business opportunities.
To support our industry, we must strive to leave each of our respective businesses in the hands of capable leaders for the next generation. It is difficult to devote time to developing new leaders as there are many competing priorities and the farm always has emergencies to deal with. That being said, we must recognize that the historic animal farming education model of family coaching passed down from generation to generation will not have the same opportunities to influence the leaders of the future as it has for many. between us lucky to be raised in this environment. Know that if you do not prioritize the development of young leaders in your company, no one will do it for you. Research the few formal development programs that exist in our industry and make sure your best and brightest are enrolled in them. Support their development by allowing successful graduates to enroll in new programs later. Leadership is not a destination, it is a journey. Don’t assume that just because one of your future leaders has completed a program, the next program won’t have as much of an impact on their development. Encourage their presence and participation knowing that if you don’t highlight this as a significant value proposition for your operation, it will always be easier to prioritize urgent needs over these strategic development programs. Dr. Bob Morrison used to say, “Doing work that matters. I know he will agree that any time spent contributing to the learning and development of the next generation of pork industry leaders is time well spent.
To our inaugural class of emerging leaders, their respective organizations, their families and our program sponsors, I want to say a sincere THANK YOU from all of us in Carthage. Without your membership, your time commitment and your genuine participation, we could not have done it without you. It has been a pleasure working with you on the Emerging Leaders Program, and we at Carthage look forward to continuing to provide this essential service to future generations of pork industry leaders.
Sources: Clayton Johnson, Carthage Veterinary Service, which is solely responsible for the information provided and owns full ownership of such information. Informa Business Media and all of its subsidiaries are not responsible for the content of this information asset.