Gain insight from Charles Aris practice leader John Bennett, who recently discussed his agribusiness recruiting practice and the state of the industry with Charles Aris marketing associate Joe Metts. Charles Aris is the official member firm of InterSearch Worldwide
Joe: You joined Charles Aris in 2009 with a background in manufacturing, biotechnology and broadcast media. What led you to pursue the agribusiness industry as the foundation of your recruiting practice within the firm?
John: My journey into agribusiness started with one client. I instantly connected with the mentality of leaders in the sector and realized the exceptional level of talent in the space. The numerous industry segments provide diversification along with ongoing challenges to help hiring authorities address. As in any industry, there are a variety of talent needs, and I’ve had the pleasure of working on and filling mission-critical roles in functions ranging from agronomy to precision agriculture to the C-suite. I’ve worked in ag retail, distribution, technology and the bio segment of animal feed and supplements. The diversity of this space is intriguing, and I’m proud to be a part of it.
Joe: Technological advances continue to impact the industry – perhaps more than ever. What key talent shifts do you see taking place in the agribusiness marketplace?
John: This is a personal-touch industry. The need for meaningful interaction drives the requirement for technically astute talent with a visionary attitude of “Where can we go from here?”. Technology will always advance, as will skill sets. As we see more organizations shift to robotics and more efficient methods of operation, the need for technical expertise is only growing. To a degree, the talent is there in the current marketplace, but a growing demand for technical skills will only create a larger gap until we find ways to attract more professionals into the sector.
Joe: Agribusiness impacts the world in a way that is rivaled by few industries. How do you balance technical expertise and cultural fit as you recruit A-level talent for client organizations?
John: To interview with a Charles Aris client organization, a candidate clearly must have the technical skills required for the role. Our goal is twofold: First, they must have an exceptional skill set. The positions we work on are critical to the missions of our clients, so all professionals we place are expected to integrally impact those organizations. Secondly, as important as skills and experience are, we go to great lengths to ensure a strong cultural fit between our clients and formal candidates. The exact mix varies for each organization, but generally speaking, a balance of 60 percent skill and 40 percent cultural fit should be reached.
Joe: In 2009, the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organization published a report suggesting that by 2050 agricultural production will need to increase by 70 percent to meet global demand. That projection is keeping pace nearly a decade later. How have organizations adjusted? What measures need to be taken to keep pace with increasing demand?
John: Agricultural advances occur on many fronts. In the water resource management sector, you see technology for water monitoring and management booming. In this process, not only are valuable water resources optimized, but proper management leads to increasing crop yields. Thanks to precision agriculture, field plotting, GPS positioning, crop protection and variable seed planting, among other advances, we’re seeing increased yields and a reduction in chemical and nutrient runoff in the ground and tributaries.
Joe: What’s one piece of advice you’d give hiring authorities as they evaluate the agricultural industry and look to enhance their organizations and results?
John: Don’t be afraid of the unknown. Be willing to step out of the box to become a visionary. That requires an understanding of where your industry or segment is going and the steps required to effectively stay ahead of the curve. That also requires a willingness to hire great talent for your team – and to allow them to responsibly challenge your vision. Charles Aris provides access to A-level leaders who can truly impact organizations for the greater good.