My first role at Monsanto changed my outlook on agriculture and our farmer customers. In August 2006 I started working in customer operations where the farming world and Monsanto’s St. Louis headquarters intersect. Customer operations helps our customer dealers-a group of customers who own seed dealerships and often sell various brands of seed and most of whom farm- with order maintenance, delivery of seed and chemicals, and walking customers through general questions. Each customer ops specialist has a territory; mine was Southeastern Minnesota, from near St. Cloud to Waseca. Above all else, a specialist’s role is about relationships and understanding the farmer. Prior to working at Monsanto, I had little ag experience and was disconnected from the farmer. But today, I understand what an essential role farmer’s play in feeding the world.
I worked with about 50 dealers who taught me why their choice of seed is so important. They opened their homes and family farms to me and in doing so showed me the integral role that wives, brothers, children, and even their local seed reps, otherwise known as sales reps, play throughout the farming season. I realized the impact that a farmer’s success has on his family when I received a letter from one of my customers signed also by his sons who drew pictures of their family farm. Colorful soybean plants, corn stalks, and birds were proudly displayed.
During the heat of the summer, dealers would host an annual harvest tour where they showed off the latest triple-stack corn or Roundup Ready bean. Comparisons of our products and our competitors’ products were displayed and a Monsanto seed rep was there to answer questions.
After meeting my customers face-to-face, I understood that these dealers were more than just customers in Southeast Minnesota, they relied on me to deliver their products in time for planting season. Seeing their products in the field reminded me of this along with the importance of our pledge to safety and yield.
In the public affairs group, my colleagues and I help tell the story of our products and the positive impact those products have had on farmers. In doing so, we help defend the products and technology that I have seen farmers benefit from first hand. We operate so that our customers can be assured that each spring they’ll be able to open a bag of our seed and begin another growing season — knowing that they’ll continue to see yield increases and also be assured of our commitment to safety.
Whitney works in the News and Information team in Public Affairs group at Monsanto. Previously, she worked in Customer Operations supporting farmers in Southeastern Minnesota. She graduated from Miami of Ohio with a bachelor’s degree in Botany and Marketing. Currently, Whitney is finishing her Master’s in International Business at St. Louis University. She enjoys running and has a cat named Muffie.