Feed Bites

It Is Our Responsibility to Seek and Develop Leaders

Written by: Guest   |   June 1, 2023

Guest perspective, Member value

By: Carlos Gonzalez, Ph.D., Hill's Pet Nutrition

I am honored and humbled to begin my tenure as chair of the American Feed Industry Association’s Board of Directors. I have learned a great deal from the past chairs I have been fortunate to work with and want to specifically recognize and thank Mike Gauss, Kent Nutrition Group, for his leadership over the past year and counsel in the coming one!

The AFIA is an extraordinary association, due to its truly outstanding members and staff. I’ve had the pleasure to meet many of you in my past lives in agricultural trade consulting and with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. However, it wasn’t until I joined the animal food industry in 2012 that I truly began to understand the value of this association. I relied on AFIA staff and membership to help me learn about the diversity of our industry, feed regulation and policymaking in the United States, support for innovation and so much more.

I can say with confidence that I would not have had similar success professionally without the AFIA, and I would not have represented my employers as successfully either. The AFIA staff make themselves available for consultation when members encounter unexpected challenges or need their unique expertise. Just as important, however, is the opportunity to learn from staff and colleagues by participating in committees. Applying all that I learned from participating in so many committees - including the Ingredient Approval and Definition, Feed Regulatory, International Trade and Pet Food committees - I adapted and adjusted my strategic thinking internally, more successfully advocated for my employers within the AFIA and reimagined how I could represent my company and industry externally.

However, it did take some time for me to realize how much I learned and developed via this relationship. It took me even longer to realize that the AFIA provides an incredible opportunity to recognize and prepare our staff for their own career growth and leadership journeys.

As many have said before me, our industry is incredibly rewarding, and there are many opportunities for others to join us. It is our responsibility as AFIA staff and members to communicate those opportunities and seek out tomorrow’s leaders.

This year’s Executive Leadership Summit (ELS) task force, which I am incredibly proud to chair, shared this belief. Our goal has been to encourage leaders to evaluate their organizations and explore new ways to attract, retain and develop their talent, and I could not be more awed by the task force’s passion and expertise. Not only will ELS provide an excellent opportunity to consider this issue and learn from one another but, for the first time ever, ELS will also include a Rising Leaders Program, geared toward developing up-and-coming leaders in the animal food industry. I cannot wait to witness its success and look forward to this program becoming a mainstay within the ELS program.

I thank all of you for your support of and participation in the AFIA.  No matter your role, your voice is important to the continued success of this association. Your participation helps our industry, your company and your own professional growth. Together, we can grow this industry and attract the best and brightest to pursue long, rewarding careers in it.

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