SOWING THE SEEDS OF SUCCESS
The University of California--Davis Seed Biotechnology Center's Seed Business 101 course is accelerating the careers of promising new employees.
Attracting and retaining talented employees is a critical challenge for the seed industry. The Seed Business 101 course was created, with input from industry executives, to help new employees learn about the complexities of the seed industry.
“The main goal of Seed Business 101 is to expose participants to the five functional areas of a seed company: R&D, production, operations, sales and marketing, and administration,” explains Rale Gjuric, director of education at UC—Davis SBC. “By creating a virtual seed company and case studies for each functional area, the course content is delivered in a very interactive way. Our instructors bring a wealth of private seed industry experience. It is like a condensed virtual apprenticeship under the guidance of recognized industry leaders.”
The course was first offered last November at the Harris Moran Research Center in Davis, Calif. It was attended by 19 participants, representing 13 diverse seed industry companies, who received instruction from distinguished seed industry leaders Maurice Smith, Pieter Vandenberg and Gary Whiteaker.
“It was an excellent course, and I had an outstanding experience working on my assignments with other members of the seed industry. The class covered excellent material, was very well organized and it was relevant to my work. I definitely recommend this class to anyone working in the seed industry,” says participant Nicholas Rios from Sakata Seed America.
Based on tremendous interest, additional courses were held in January 2011 in Boise, Idaho, and February 2011 in Yuma, Ariz. “Some seed companies that sent one or two participants to one session returned with three or four participants for the following session,” says Gjuric. “These companies clearly see the value in the course, which is the ultimate measure of the success of Seed Business 101. The interest is there, the awareness is increasing and we are confident that the course will continue to grow and evolve to fit the needs of the seed industry.”
Gjuric adds that while the course was created to shorten the learning curve of new employees, it can also be useful for older employees moving into new positions within the industry. “It also applies to people switching between industries,” he says. “This gives us a mix of participants in senior positions in their companies and younger new employees with two or more years of experience.”
Seed Business 101 participants receive practical information on the seed industry.
It’s all about helping employees be the best they can be. Participant Julie McElhaney of US Agriseeds sums it up best: “Seed Business 101 is a course that would benefit anyone in the seed industry. The course not only teaches you about the seed industry, but inspires you to be a better employee.” Julie McNabb