Friday, June 8, 2018

A Strategic Approach to Reducing Mycoplasma Testing Costs


Zach Gregoire
Zach Gregoire, St. Joseph, Missouri, defended his thesis, “A Strategic Approach to Reducing Mycoplasma Testing Costs” on December 20. He is a Microbiologist for Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica. Gregoire will be a spring graduate from Kansas State University with a Master of Agribusiness (MAB) degree.

Mycoplasma, a bacterium capable of making cattle, swine and poultry animals sick, is often present in ingredients of animal origin used in vaccines to protect livestock.  This is because Mycoplasma is very difficult to control due to its unique characteristics. The cost of Mycoplasma contamination in vaccine products can be very high for both animal health companies and their customers. To comply with regulatory requirements, vaccine manufacturers must conduct numerous expensive and complicated tests on animal products used in the manufacture of their products. By researching killed or inactivated virus products that have been shown to effectively kill Mycoplasma, a more economically beneficial way to eliminate Mycoplasma in the vaccine production process may be discovered.

“If a Mycoplasma contamination is found, a biological or pharmaceutical company can pay large sums of money to investigate the cause of the contamination, initiate corrective action, decontaminate the facility and destroy impacted batches” said Gregoire.

Through his thesis research, Gregoire’s identified three possible virus products that could successfully kill Mycoplasma bacteria. A vaccine manufacturer using these products has the potential to save approximately $1.2 million dollars over ten years.

Dr. Vincent Amanor-Boadu, Agribusiness Economics & Management Professor and Gregoire’s thesis advisor, said “Whenever we solve an issue such as Mycoplasma more efficiently, it illustrates the power of research to advance humanity’s wellbeing. Zach’s study has immediate value for decision-makers in the animal health industry. It helps them not only develop more effective solutions to a big problem, but also reduce their regulatory burden.”

The full thesis publication can be found online on Kansas State University’s Research Exchange
at
http://krex.k-state.edu/dspace/handle/2097/38619.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Mango Butter Financial Feasibility Analysis: Value Added in the Chittoor District, Andhra Pradesh, India


Sita Pendurthi
Sita Pendurthi, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, defended her thesis, “Mango Butter Financial Feasibility Analysis: Value Added in the Chittoor District, Andhra Pradesh, India” on December 20. She is an Advisor for the Archean Group. Pendurthi will be a spring graduate from Kansas State University with a Master of Agribusiness (MAB) degree.

The production of mango butter, a byproduct of mangos used in the cosmetic and soap industries, has increased in recent years in India. With the use of hydraulic pressing, extraction of oil from the mango kernel has become less expensive and results in a pure form of the resource, leading to the opportunity to convert a waste product into small-scale mango butter businesses.  In her thesis, Pendurthi examines the economic implications of establishing a mango butter operation, through examining manufacturing and market trends in India, evaluating different unit locations and by presenting a model to assess the financial feasibility of investment projects.

 “The advantages and limitations of competitors producing in the Indian market are examined. The study also identifies additional uses for mango butter in countries that are major consumers of the resource, and highlights products with which mango butter could compete”, said Pendurthi.

Pendurthi’s research suggested that entrepreneurs should study the sector thoroughly before investing in mango butter production. The thesis provides a foundation on which further analysis can be performed to determine whether mango butter production is economically viable for individual situations.

Allen Featherstone, Professor, Agricultural Economics Department Head, Director of the MAB program and Pendurthi’s thesis advisor, said, “Any time an item can be moved from a waste channel into an economically viable product, there are positive economic and environmental results. Ms. Pendurthi has identified one such opportunity”.
The full thesis publication can be found online on Kansas State University’s Research Exchange at http://hdl.handle.net/2097/38672.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Updated Speaker List for Leading through Change Professional Development Event

Leading through Change is Oct. 19-20 at the K-State Olathe campus, 22201 W. Innovation Drive, Olathe. The conference is open to professionals in all fields. 

In addition to Bruce Tulgan’s keynote, the conference features a series of diverse panelists who will provide attendees with tools, best practices and new insights on finding success during change. The sessions are as follows:

Thursday, October 19
  • “Today’s Agribusiness Climate,”  Dr. Allen Featherstone, Kansas State University
  • “Enter, Shift, Control: Data Risk and Leadership,” Jared Benson, Koch Industries Inc.
  • “#Marketing in a Digital Age,” Neil Caskey, Osborne and Barr
  • “Mergers and Acquisitions: Guiding Your Company through Change,” Paul Casady, K-State Olathe
  • “Sky is the Limit: Leveraging Unmanned Aerial Systems,” Robert Boyd, FFA committee member; Russ Plaschka, KS Dept of Agriculture; and Kurt Carraway, Kansas State Polytechnic’s Unmanned Aerial Systems program
  • KC Ag Business Council Luncheon with Richard B. Myers, President, Kansas State University
  • “Leading through Change Workshop,” Bruce Tulgan, RainmakerThinking
  • “Telling our Story in Times of Change,” JJ Jones, Roots & Legacies, Consulting, Inc.
Friday, October 20

  • “Policy Outlook for Leaders,” Dr. Barry Flinchbaugh, Kansas State University
  • “Legal Considerations for Leadership,” Mark Anstoeter, Shook, Hardy and Bacon LLP

Attendees who register by October 2 for the two-day event will receive a discount. Early registration is $295 per person for both days. After October 2, the two-day registration will be $350 per person. Single day registration including Tulgan’s keynote on Thursday, October19 is available for $245. The registration fee includes meals and meeting materials. 

Register and see a complete schedule for the conference at mab.k-state.edu/events/kc2017.html.

The Leading through Change conference is the eighth professional development and alumni reunion event from the MAB program. The conference is a collaboration of the MAB program and K-State Olathe, with the support of the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Master of Agribusiness program looks back at first class after 20 years

This is the first in a series of articles celebrating 20 years of the Master of Agribusiness program. As part of the year-long celebration, the MAB program will publish articles highlighting alumni and research conducted by students throughout the program. #MABTurns20

#MABClassof2000
The Master of Agribusiness (MAB) at Kansas State University was the first graduate agribusiness program in the nation to be offered via distance when it was launched in 1998. In honor of the 20th anniversary of the Master of Agribusiness program, members of the first class (#MABClassof2000) look back on their experiences in the program and share their memories.

MAB Alum Bret Oelke, President of Innovus Agra LLC., said, "As a member of the ‘original’ MAB class, it sometimes felt as if the plane was being built as we were flying in it. This is not to say that I disapproved of the program, as a matter of fact it was exciting to be a part of something new and ahead of its time in education for working agriculture professionals."

At the time, distance education was relatively new, and the MAB program faced a learning curve in developing its curriculum and delivery methods.

"You’ll recall that distance learning and online education was in its very infancy in 1998, the year the first class made the decision to enroll and try the program. There was no path or template to follow, so the Ag Econ department had to basically invent the program from scratch. They did a really nice job of putting together an interesting and challenging program, with a lot of useful information and tools," Steve Stephens, Senior Vice President of American AgCredit, said.

The combination of distance education with face-to-face on-campus sessions, gave students the flexibility to earn a master’s degree without relocating for school, but also the opportunity to meet classmates and faculty in person to build relationships.

"I believe our first class benefited from one aspect of the program that I just don’t see how later classes do - and that was the ‘intimacy’ of the class. My recall is that there were 12 of us, so we all got to know each other during those weeks we were together," said Kurt David, COO, Eagle Communications. "I quickly learned during the MAB program that the faculty is comprised of so many brilliant people. The faculty at K-State know agriculture, and I knew I had surrounded myself with people who were smarter than I was. I was excited about that - that is when I knew I was going to learn from this experience."
In developing the curriculum, faculty in the Agricultural Economics department pulled the best pieces of a masters in agricultural economics and industry needs identified by an advisory board to create coursework that would be immediately applicable within industry.

"The program was a mix of hard and soft skills. Some skills/education I’ve used heavily are strategic planning, finance, agricultural policy, and even logistics to an extent. I know that the skills I acquired in the MAB program helped me make better decisions along the way, and definitely helped me advance and progress through the companies I’ve worked for. Probably most importantly, it’s given me the skills to analyze and understand my company, my industry and the world much more robustly," said Stephens.

The Master of Agribusiness program was originally developed for individuals working in the food and agricultural industry to learn business and economic skills without being on campus full time, but Dr. Allen Featherstone, Director of the MAB program and Head of the Agricultural Economics Department, soon realized the program’s reach could be much broader. From that first class with 12 students across the Great Plains, the program now has enrollment of 30-40 each year from 40 states within the United States and in more than 30 countries.

"We created a program that meets the educational needs of working professionals, and we deliver it in a format without interrupting work schedules and family life," said Featherstone. "Students can access the program regardless of where they are, and we now have students from around the world participating in the MAB."

From different backgrounds and experiences in the agriculture industry, that first class came together to shape the Master of Agribusiness program and help each other through the trials of graduate school.

Looking back, Rich Porter, Owner of Porter Cattle Company, said, "Thirty years after completing my bachelor’s degree, by then a grizzled old rancher myself, I started working on a Master of Agribusiness degree. I was fearful because my computer skills were primitive compared with those of the other students in the class. Their business experiences came from working with computers in industry, not from working with cattle and tractors. With the help and support of faculty and my classmates, I made it through the program. My computer skills were never elegant, but adequate to accomplish the task.

"Being in the first MAB class was exciting, because both the students and instructors were trying something new. Working an additional 12-15 hours a week for two and a half years, cut into our sleep time, but the increased knowledge benefited me vastly more than my investment in time and money," Porter said.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Changing workforce, effective leadership focus of upcoming professional development conference

OLATHE — In October, one of the nation's top leaders in management training is coming to Greater Kansas City to discuss generational diversity in the workplace and effective leadership in a changing employee landscape.

Bruce Tulgan, author, business consultant and founder of RainmakerThinking Inc. — a research, training and consulting firm that specializes in generational issues in the workplace — will share how employers can find new success in a changing workforce during his keynote at the professional development event, Leading through Change.

Leading through Change is Oct. 19-20 at the Kansas State University Olathe campus, 22201 W. Innovation Drive, Olathe. The conference is open to professionals in all fields.

"More and more businesses are dealing with how to effectively address the persistent needs of change management and working well with diverse teams," said Deborah Kohl, coordinator of Kansas State University's Master of Agribusiness program, or MAB, and conference organizer. "This conference is really geared for anyone managing a business or team, particularly those with employees from multiple generations. Employers will learn how to best manage the change that comes with this shifting employee landscape so they can continue to foster new leadership and attract the best talent to their firms."

In addition to Tulgan's keynote, the conference features a series of diverse panelists who will provide attendees with tools, best practices and new insights on finding success during change. The panels are as follows:

Tuesday, Oct. 19• Keynote session with Bruce Tulgan

• "Enter, Shift, Control: Data Risk and Leadership," invited speaker Ken Harmon of Koch Industries Inc.

• "#Marketing in a Digital Age," Neil Caskey of Osborne and Barr

• "Mergers and Acquisitions: Guiding Your Company through Change," Paul Casady of K-State Olathe

• "Sky is the Limit: Leveraging Unmanned Aerial Systems," Robert Boyd, FFA committee member, and Kurt Carraway of Kansas State Polytechnic's Unmanned Aerial Systems program

Friday, Oct. 20• "Policy Outlook for Leaders Roundtable," Dana Brooks of Land O’Lakes Inc.

• "Legal Considerations for Leadership," Mark Anstoeter of Shook, Hardy and Bacon LLP

Attendees who register by Sept. 15 for the two-day professional development event will receive a discount. Early registration is $295 per person for both days. After Sept. 15, the two-day registration is $350 per person. Single day registration for Tulgan's keynote on Oct. 19 is available for $245, respectively. The registration fee includes meals and meeting materials.

Register and see a complete schedule for the conference at
mab.k-state.edu/events/kc2017.html.

The Leadership through Change conference is the eighth professional development and alumni reunion event from the MAB program. The conference is a collaboration of the MAB program and K-State Olathe, with the support of the Agricultural Business Council of Kansas City. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Changing Hats

Several years ago my husband and I presented a professional conference session to help attendees work through the mission and vision they wanted to set for their career and personal lives. We started the session with a box of hats in front of us, each taking a hat out of the box, placing it on our head and naming the role in life we assumed with that hat. Mother, partner, coach, father, son, employee, supervisor, planner, student, church member, civic organization vice president . . . the hats we wore seemed never ending. Our participants were in much the same boat.

So what happens when there is a possibility that you will lose one of your hats? What happens if your company is shifting and your role may require a new hat, or you may be asked to turn in your company hat all together?   The uncertainty that comes with this type of change is often difficult to deal with. Humans react to uncertainty with fear, and that fear can cause us to behave erratically in an attempt to eliminate it.

As we work with employees in transition, here are some of the strategies we suggest to deal with that fear:

1. Take some time to make decisions. Do not make a quick, knee-jerk decision in the midst of fear and uncertainty. There is a difference between trusting your gut and reacting out of fear. It has taken you years of education and training to build your professional self, honor that investment by giving yourself space and time to think through options. This is a good opportunity to put on the referee hat and give yourself a time out.


2. Gather information. You can’t make a good decision without good information. Evaluate what you do and don’t know about your company and its future. Make a list of questions  or unknowns. Put on your detective hat and look for answers. Not suggesting you don a disguise and camp at the coffee pot or break room—good decisions are not based on gossip—but ask questions of your manager, colleagues who have been in the field longer than you have, human resource officers, mentors, and those you trust.

 3.  Be the expert on you. Pick up the professor hat here. If you haven’t brushed up your resume recently, now is a great time to do so, regardless of what the future holds. Shop it around to a few individuals you trust, or a career coach, to make sure it is polished. You have to know your skills, strengths and areas for growth better than anyone, so get feedback. Most companies have some personality testing built into their hiring cycle, complete a few online so that you can advocate for yourself.

4. Evaluate your personal finances and budget. Pull out the accountant hat and establish priorities. Eliminate extra expenses now—work ahead so that if you do need to make a change you already have some wiggle room fiscally. Work with your partner or spouse to find ways to save now. Once it becomes clear austerity measures won’t be needed, either keep the savings as savings, invest, or celebrate with those who have helped you walk through this challenge.

5. Gather your advisory board. Speaking of those who have helped you walk through the challenge, this is not the time to sit in isolation. No need to pick up a bullhorn and announce to the world, but be sure to put on your ambassador hat; find some close friends or colleagues; and give them the honor of being there for you. A trusted member of the clergy may also be a great resource as you navigate the uncertain days and weeks ahead. These individuals can be great cheerleaders and an extra pair of eyes and ears for opportunities if you need them.

Changing hats can be difficult and the prospect of facing uncertainty is daunting. We’d love to hear the advice you’ve been given—both good and bad—as you have navigated career change. Feel free to comment below or through any of our social media channels. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Dealing with Uncertainty


This year has been a tumultuous one for our students and alumni in the animal health industry. A number of companies have made changes to their corporate structures, and from what we hear, realignment in the industry is far from over.

In visiting with students currently in the midst of corporate change, a few themes repeatedly emerge.

Students consistently share that the most difficult part of managing corporate change is the uncertainty. Once the rumors about a corporate takeover or buyout, merger or acquisition begin swirling, the uncertainty starts to creep in.

The cycle of questions goes along these lines: Will I have a job with this company? Will this company even be a company anymore? Who will my boss be? Will I have to take a pay cut? Will I have the opportunity to move? Is the opportunity to move one I would take if given? What do I need to do to cover myself right now? Do I even want to stay with this company? What is my partner/spouse/significant other going to say? Am I going to be able to find a job somewhere else? What are my kids going to do?

Positive ways to deal with uncertainty include focusing on what you can control, preparing for different possibilities, and being confident in your skills and abilities. For professionals in mid-career, regardless of the field you are in, making a connection with a talent specialist can be a powerful tool in accomplishing all three of these tasks.

The Master of Agribusiness program has partnered with The VetRecruiter, Stacy Pursell, to present a webinar on May 18, 2017 at 12:00 pm CDT to address some of the unknowns regarding this relationship, and demystify this process for current professionals. Registration is free, and located here: http://conta.cc/2qfRUp9.