Vice President, Agtech Innovation
You spend more than half of your waking hours working. Make these precious, fleeting moments matter by working for an organization and a cause you can believe in.
Western Growers exists for one reason only: to ensure the future viability of its members – the hard-working, salt of the earth farmers who grow the fruits, vegetables and tree nuts that feed our nation and nourish our bodies. But their way of life, their ability to pass their multi-generational farms and family legacies on to their children and grandchildren, is being jeopardized by a host of threats, many of them beyond their control. They face a growing litany of laws and regulations that make it increasingly difficult and expensive to do business.
Our members depend on us to help them remain competitive and profitable in spite of these trying circumstances, which we do by fighting – heart and soul – for them every single day. We passionately advocate for them in the halls of Congress and on the steps of the state capitol. We actively facilitate the advancement of technology designed to help them become more efficient and less dependent on diminishing resources. We diligently provide health insurance to their farm workers, as well as other insurance solutions tailored to the unique business. We do all of this, and more, from a position of leadership in the agriculture industry, which requires a team of intelligent, inquisitive and innovative individuals sold out for our common purpose.
Job Description Summary
Plan, direct and coordinate activities designed to accelerate technology solutions for Western Growers member companies and create awareness, financial resources and active participation for the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology (CIT) located in Salinas, California. The CIT is a place for entrepreneurs to develop their own business and exists for the sole purpose of speeding innovative and technical solutions for the fresh produce industry. This position reports to the President/CEO and has one director and one administrative support positions reporting lines.
- BS/BA degree in finance, technology or agricultural management and seven to ten years of similar experience preferred.
- Strong ability to strategically plan business growth and further work the plan tactically applying every practical measure to bring the CIT to greater participation and financial success.
- Strong ability to understand financial negotiations to arrange deals involving investments in areas that improve on the farm or packer/shipper enterprises.
- Exceptional ability to communicate both in writing and verbally particularly in group settings.
- Exceptional ability to sell and ask for the sale (close the deal
- Experience with budgeting and managing all direct reports to achieve the objectives of the department.
- Good ability to use the suite of end-user software such as calendaring, word-processing, spreadsheets, presentations, customer relationship management systems.
- Verifiable, clean DMV record and the ability to travel to various locations throughout the U.S. (mainly California and Arizona) up to 30% of the time.
Duties And Responsibilities
- Organize activities to raise funds or otherwise solicit and gather monetary donations designed to underwrite the operation and expansion of the Western Growers CIT.
- Organize investment strategies to help innovators in the CIT progress and scale.
- Identify and build relationships with potential donors. Secure commitments of participation or donation from individuals and corporate donors.
- Develop fundraising activity plans that maximize participation or contributions and minimize costs.
- Develop an innovation cycle that accelerates new technology and provides investment opportunity for WG and WG members.
- Lead the effort for the AgSharks event at Western Growers Annual Meeting.
- Find the innovators, locate candidates, seek judges for the actual event, and secure funding from venture capitalists.
- Engage in marketing and communication efforts to advance the CIT and all related events.
- Lead the effort for quarterly AgTechX events throughout the Western Growers territories.
- Determine the location, theme and agenda for each AgTechX event.
- Find innovators and speakers to support the theme and objective of each AgTechX event.
- Coordinate with Marketing and Communications to promote and execute each AgTechX.
- Develop and lead educational forums to extend useful technology to WG members and to industry priorities with technology providers.
Incubator/Accelerators/Venturing Capital Ag Solutions
- Create a strategy to connect investors, with a large pool of liquid assets, to act as an angel or initial investor in CIT startups.
- Find startups to engage with the CIT including renting space and accessing resources.
- Use marketing, networks, relationships, to find investors and connect them to “start-ups” with ag-specific solutions.
- Create a focused plan to grow innovation centers in additional areas of California and/or Arizona.
- Effectively engage WG membership in the Center for Innovation and Technology including implementation of member trial, education, investment, fundraising and advisory programs.
- Establish the WG_CIT as a global innovation hub by formally engaging with investors, technologists and others advancing specialty crop innovation in other countries.
- Formally connect with public and private universities in the US and beyond to accelerate innovation in the specialty crop sector.
Management & Leadership
- Develop, manage, and lead a team of 3A+ self-accountable professionals.
- Develop a culture of real, personal accountability by modeling the behavior that defines it.
- Instill a culture of safety and expectation, within your respective area/s.
- Require direct reports to hold themselves accountable to high standards of, performance and personal conduct, in a clear, helpful, straightforward way.
- Conduct one-on-one conversations with every direct report, on a quarterly basis, focused on their 3A+ capabilities, impact, and effort.
- Make decisions and choices, impacting staff, by using the selection and hiring, clarifying roles and objectives, managing performance, correction & discipline and termination steps as outlined in the “Outward Mindset Skills for Leaders” guide.
- Utilize all capabilities to satisfy one mission — to enhance the competitiveness and profitability of our members. Do everything possible to help members succeed by being curious and striving to understand what others are trying to achieve, planning and executing work in a helpful and collaborative manner, being willing to adjust efforts to ensure that work and attitude are helpful to others, being self-accountable, creating positive impact, and being diligent in delivering results.
- Maintain a clean DMV record and the ability to travel to locations throughout the U.S. (mainly California and Arizona) up to 30% of the time.
- All other duties as assigned.
Physical Demands/Work Environment
The physical demands and work environment described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to communicate with others. The employee frequently is required to travel to both indoor and outdoor areas that can vary in exposure and temperature. The employee is frequently required to operate a motor vehicle. The employee is frequently required to use objects, tools, or controls. The employee may be required to lift up to 50lbs. The noise level in the work environment is usually moderate.