A Record Number of Attendees at the 2011 Ag HR Roundtable

It is hard to believe that another AgCareers.com Ag HR Roundtable has passed. This year a record number of attendees – more than 190 – attended the 9th Annual Ag HR Roundtable in West Lafayette, Indiana, August 1 – 3.

The event kicked off with keynote presentations from our two co-hosts, Purdue University and ADM. Dean Jay Akridge and Dr. Allan Gray of Purdue University opened with information on the importance of human capital in the workplace. They shared leadership and soft skills that are necessary for success and the factors that can impact those skills. Next, Jane Pierce of ADM provided insight into what trends are impacting recruiting within business and the agriculture sector. The ideas of a ‘war on talent,’ as well as the great need for skilled labor were hot topics that would present themselves again and again throughout the entire conference.

The second day of the Ag HR Roundtable is always a full one, and this year was no exception. Dan Rice with Alltech shared some very unique ways that Alltech has been able to connect and recruit young professionals. He set the stage by addressing the gaps and outlining some of Alltech’s culture. A few ideas shared included sponsorship of kid’s activities at industry events, and internships and contests for specific jobs that can be challenging to fill.

A panel of university/college and industry professionals helped shed light on recruitment philosophy. Having both university/college and industry on the panel allowed for both sides of the story. Topics that were discussed varied, but highlights included conversations around candidates relocating and the involvement of parents in the hiring process. The session definitely sparked conversation during the different networking sessions.

Following lunch, participants were able to participate in an interactive session to provide immediate feedback on the skills academia needs to prepare students for as they enter the workforce. Participants provided feedback throughout the session using clicker technology to respond to survey questions. Feedback was immediately shown and then compared to results of those faculty, employers, and students that had taken the survey leading up to the conference. Dr. Pat Crawford and Suzanne Lang of Michigan State University, as well as Wendy Fink of APLU provided insight as to where the three audiences agreed or disagreed on the level of importance and compared to the audience’s results. Participants were also some of the first to receive the overall summary of the initial survey findings and will be provided with a summary of our audience’s results.

On Tuesday afternoon, participants could select between three concurrent session options. Selections included sessions on effective performance management, best practices in on-boarding and total compensation packages for students. Participants remarked on their evaluations that these were some of the best concurrent sessions yet and that they liked the smaller setting to really get responses to specific questions/concerns relative to the topic.

That evening we were off for a fantastic networking event at the Ross Ade Stadium. Participants were treated to a great view of the stadium from one of the large event suites. Guests enjoyed a casual atmosphere to network, cocktails and good food!

The final morning was kicked off by Darlene Godsey of Novozymes who shared a case study approach of what they had done to enhance employer branding within their business and how they’ve been able to boost recruitment efforts by doing so. She shared some very specific examples and talked about doing things that were out of the norm. Darlene walked participants through how to focus on employer brand throughout the number of touch points in the recruitment process and gave practical ideas that large and small businesses could implement.

The conference wrapped up with another set of concurrent sessions that were evaluated as strongly as those the day before. Guests chose from succession planning strategy, HR metrics and a beg, borrow and share session for university/college professionals.

Several other networking and educational opportunities were provided throughout the conference such as the Welcome Reception, a Purdue University tour, Table Topics breakfast and a breakfast on Social Media.

We’d like to thank our presenters, sponsors and hosts for helping to make the conference possible. Thank you to our hosts – ADM and Purdue University, and our sponsors -- Adayana, ADM, CGB Enterprises, CHS, Dow AgroSciences, Purdue University, Valent and Wilbur-Ellis.

To view media coverage of the event visit ZimmCast and for photos visit the Roundtable Flickr photostream. You can also find additional posts and photos on the AgCareers.com Facebook page and view the video on the AgCareers.com YouTube Channel.

Finally, mark your calendars and plan to attend the 2012 Ag HR Roundtable – August 7 – 9, 2012 in Springdale, Arkansas on Tyson’s campus. It will be the 10th AgCareers.com Ag HR Roundtable. We hope you will join us and help us celebrate! To be included on the mailing list email events@agcareers.com.

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