A strong Land O’Lakes presence on campus

Friday, March 31, 2017 - 11:15am

By speaking or volunteering on campus, Land O’Lakes leaders help to grow the company’s relationship with the U of M. Their activities tie into an overall strategy to raise the company’s profile, help students see Land O’Lakes as a prospective employer, and support the U of M mission.

Building a talent pipeline is an especially high priority for Land O’Lakes, which is working toward hiring 80 full-time college and M.B.A. employees in 2017. “Recruiting is too important to leave up to HR alone,” said Chris Policinski (CEO) in a February 1 Wall Street Journal article entitled “CEOs Spend More Time on Campus.” Policinski’s frequent appearances on campus and in a Welcome Week video aim to raise awareness for careers in food and ag. His efforts complement the work of the College Relations team, which saw a nearly 60 percent rise in the number of recruiting events at the U of M in fall 2016—a key measure of recruiting success.

Governing boards also benefit from Land O’Lakes expertise. As vice chair of the University of Minnesota Foundation Board of Trustees, Policinski helps to guide the foundation’s highest-level strategic work that has impact across the entire University. Peter Janzen (general counsel, CAO), is on the Carlson School of Management Board of Overseers, a group that works to ensure a highly engaged relationship with individuals and businesses.  

Guest speaking in classrooms and conferences is another avenue of involvement. For example, Lydia Botham (VP community relations and Land O’Lakes Foundation) highlighted the Global Food Challenge initiative during the Carlson School’s Business of Learning Speaker Series last fall, and Janzen helped the World Food Problems class to understand the role of cooperatives in global food security. More than 400 women heard insights from Beth Ford (group EVP and COO) at the 2016 Women’s Leadership Conference sponsored by the Carlson School. Land O’Lakes sponsorship of the 2016 International HR Case Competition included Loren Heeringa’s (SVP and CHRO) address to competitors from five countries.

Celebrations also bring LOL executives to campus for events such as groundbreaking and final beam signing at the Land O’Lakes Center for Excellence and the opening of two new CFANS classrooms on the St. Paul campus. They’ve also helped the Carlson School to host a contingent of visiting Chinese business executives.  

These involvements and many more all add up to a rich relationship that helps advance the work and mission of both organizations.