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.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Noted specialist to discuss generational diversity in the workforce at upcoming conference


One of the nation's leaders in management training and generational diversity in workforce will be discussing these topics at an upcoming Kansas State University conference.

"Building the Future: Leadership through Change" is March 30-31 at the Kansas State University Olathe campus. The conference features a keynote speech by Bruce Tulgan, author, business consultant and founder of RainmakerThinking Inc. — a research, training and consulting firm that specializes in generational issues in the workplace. He will discuss management, leadership through change and working with millennials. 

Bruce Tulgan

"As businesses look to grow a pipeline of new leaders and attract the best talent to their firms, change management and working well with diverse teams is a persistent need," said Deborah Kohl, coordinator of Kansas State University's Master of Agribusiness program, or MAB. "No matter where you are in business, Bruce Tulgen will have immediately applicable strategies that will benefit you."

"Building the Future: Leadership through Change" 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.

"Agribusiness encompasses many different fields and professions," Kohl said. "We envision this conference and its topics being useful for people in all career stages in both the food supply chain and animal health fields — from a retailer who stocks food to someone interested in starting their own companion animal health related business."

Breakout sessions at the conference include:

• "Data Security/Data Risk," Ken Harmon of Koch Industries Inc. 

• "Meeting in the Digital Age," Neil Caskey of Osborne and Barr.
• "Human Resources," Bruce Tulgan of RainmakerThinking Inc.
• "Government/Policy Outlook" invited panel, Dana Brooks of Land O'Lakes Inc.
• "Unmanned Aerial Systems," Billy Brown of the Kansas Department of Agriculture; Robert Boyd, FFA committee member; and Kurt Carraway of Kansas State Polytechnic.
• "Legal Update," Mark Anstoeter, Shook of Hardy and Bacon LLP.
• "Outcomes Research," Elva Cha of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University.
• "Mergers and Acquisitions," John Breeden of DuPont Sustainable Solutions.

Registration for the conference is $300 per person before March 17 and $350 per person after March 17. The registration fee includes meals and meeting materials. Sign up at mab.k-state.edu/events/kc2017.html.

Kansas State University's Master of Agribusiness is an award-winning, distance-education degree program that focuses on food and agribusiness management. Students and alumni work in every sector of the food and agribusiness industry and are located in 40 states within the United States and in more than 30 countries.

K-State Olathe supports the needs of industry in Greater Kansas City through academic programs and educational opportunities, such the upcoming MAB event. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Free webinar: Effective Leadership Strategies Across Generations

Kansas State University's Master of Agribusiness (MAB)  is hosting a free webinar, “Effective Leadership Strategies Across Generations” presented by Kevin Heikes, MAB alum and Vice President of Product for FarmLink. The webinar will be Thursday, September 29 at noon CST.
The presentation will provide effective strategies for leadership for all generations in the workplace and questions to ask team members that will lead them to high-performance engagement.
“While I am technically GenX, many times I end up translating for both the Boomer generation and the GenY/Millennial generation.  For example, I enjoy sharing with Boomers how Hootsuite can turn 99% of Twitter chatter into meaningful customer insights.  Or sharing with a Millennial that they need to put down the phone and go shake the hand of their customer and engage in conversation,” Heikes said.
As Vice President of Product for FarmLink, Heikes develops the product pipeline for agribusiness.  His focus and expertise are in the commercialization of startups, understanding the agricultural ecosystem and then infusing new technologies into the traditional Agriculture Supply Chain.   
Before joining FarmLink in 2014, he was responsible for Technology Operations at Farms Technology, an agtech startup that conducted automated online grain origination, hedging, and trading between grain merchandisers and farmers.  In 2012, the company was acquired by DuPont Pioneer, where Heikes led the integration efforts from a small startup into a standalone development team within DuPont Pioneer. 
Heikes holds a Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness from Colorado State University and a Master of Agribusiness from Kansas State University.  He was raised on a cattle operation in southern Colorado and now resides with his wife and three daughters in Lenexa, Kansas. 

The webinar is free, but attendees must register online at http://bit.ly/2cHgUAMA link will be emailed to all registered participants. For more information about the webinar, contact Deborah Kohl, dkohl@ksu.edu, 785-532-4495.