ADM senior vice president and president of Carbohydrate Solutions
Who was your first mentor in life?
My first mentor was my father. Our family was in the turkey breeding, growing and processing business where I grew up in North Carolina. He taught me the complementary values of hard work and grit, helping me develop a business mindset that has guided me to this day. He also taught me what it meant to be engaged in the community. The family business provided jobs, but it needed to do more than that. I learned from a young age how crucial it is for employers to enrich the community fabric where they’re rooted by getting involved.
What was your most memorable lesson?
This is a tough one. I have lots of memorable lessons that could fill a book. I think the lessons that I have carried with me my entire career are to love what you do and it won’t be work, and whatever you choose as your career, lead with passion and commitment.
What does community mean to you?
Community is more than a group of people living in the same place, or sharing particular characteristics. A community is something that you can feel. At ADM, we have that team spirit, a fellowship. We work together every day, sure, but our connections are much deeper than that. Our connections span geographies, helping to put food on the table, feed animals, fuel vehicles and support industry in countries all over the world. But community extends well past the walls of our facilities. We’re all part of something larger than our work and ourselves.
Why are you involved in the community?
At ADM, we try to help sustain and strengthen communities where our colleagues work, live and operate. We direct funding, share industry knowledge and volunteer. In particular, our areas of focus are on advancing sustainable agriculture, increasing food security and investing in education. We partner with organizations that are making meaningful social, economic and environmental progress worldwide.But we also try to have fun, and make Decatur and ADM a great place to work. Recently, I volunteered to take a pie in the face if our teams met their fundraising goals for Northeast Community Fund’s Thanksgiving Basket program. Sure enough, they shattered their goal. I guess having a chance to pie your boss in the face is a great motivational tool!
What advice would you give to people who want to do more?
If you’re interested, get involved. If you’re part of an organization, whether that’s through your job, a club, a religious institution, is there an effort you can help support? Find something you care about and consider volunteering or directing funds where you can make a difference.