July 16, 2012

Monday morning presentation focuses on international employment

By Lauren Williams/ ASAS Communications

At the International Animal Agriculture Symposium, the topic for the morning was “Increasing undergraduate and graduate student training in international animal agriculture.”

The first presentation entitled “What type of employee will international agribusiness companies be seeking?” was led by Karl Dawson, who works for the Alltech Center for Animal Nutrigenomics and Applied Animal Nutrition. Dawson started off the presentation by putting the famous quote, “The times, they are a changing” by Bob Dylan to capture the idea that agriculture is becoming an international industry.

Dawson explained that the agriculture industry is in a flux with the increasing population, increasing resource use, and how agriculture sciences are viewed both by scientists and the general public. He said that agribusiness, government/regulatory and academia all influence how people are educated and how animal science is taught but they all have the same scientific goals especially when it comes to consumer relations. Current challenges to the academic world is less governmental support, more competition for fund, more time spent on getting research funds than spent on research and the ability to sell the information. As a result, Dawson stated, agriculture research is evolving away from its initial roots, and new models are coming forward that focus on communication and the importance of technology. Now, more collaboration is necessary to achieve results.

Alltech is developing research alliance that allows all areas of agriculture sciences to work together. By developing these alliances, Alltech is looking for employees that are more diverse and able to offer a diverse skill set. So what will these international jobs look like? Dawson stated that individuals will need basic science training, be solution oriented, be able to work as a team, be able to sell science and be innovation driven. It is important that these individuals be able to work in a diverse cultural zone and can understand cultures.

Dawson says when someone comes in to interview for a job, the questions that he asks include: “Do you have a passport?” “Have you traveled abroad?” “Do you speak another language?” and “What are your experiences outside of school?” He also looks for key characteristics like flexibility, leadership skills, willingness to go above and beyond the job description, honest and sincerity, and a willingness to learn and need for self-improvement. He said when an employee gets to work in the morning, he wants them to have the attitude of “What can I do for you today.” He says that working on the international level means that you are going to have odd hours because sometimes you might need to do a conference call at midnight because you are talking to someone half way across the globe.

What would be the rewards of working internationally?

“It’s fun, and if you aren’t having fun at work, then it’s no good at all,” Dawson said.

The positions are also exciting,  you have the ability to have fast moving achievements, freedom from financial limitations and there is lots of room for professional growth.

The symposium also featured topics such as animal scientists in global food development, using technologies in developing countries, how to engage internationally and partnering across countries.