ASTA Management Academy: Uniting The Industry And Strengthening Managers
When Aaron Phillips came to the ASTA Management Academy expecting to only broaden his understanding of the seed industry, he was surprised by the unmatched networking opportunity he encountered there.
“I met people from across the United States and all over the world—people who work with all types of seeds in all types of roles, from plant breeding to marketing to research and development,” says Phillips, seed quality manager at Del Monte Foods. “People came to the academy from all walks of life, all with a common purpose and desire to improve our seed business.”
The ASTA Management Academy is entering its 24th year of bringing seed industry professionals together. The academy, a weeklong management-development program, has continually attracted participants from across the industry representing both large businesses and family-owned firms. Designed specifically for seed industry professionals by the American Seed Trade Association and the Center for Food and Agricultural Business at Purdue University, the academy offers participants a chance to build their management skills alongside other key players in the industry, networking as they discuss issues presented in the classroom.
“Today’s seed industry demands flexibility, creativity and critical thinking skills now more than ever,” says Allan Gray, professor of agricultural economics and director of the Center for Food and Agricultural Business. “With a focus on transformational learning, the academy provides participants with an opportunity to transform their traditional way of thinking.”
The program challenges attendees to consider the linkages between core business functions, including marketing management, organizational leadership, financial management and strategic management. Because the academy provides exposure to different segments within an organization, participants learn how their decisions impact the rest of their business.
“One of the most beneficial things I learned at the ASTA Management Academy was how to look at an issue from a different perspective,” says T.J. Strachota, marketing associate at Dairyland Seed. “Coming from a sales and marketing background, I tend to look at issues in a certain way. The program challenged me to examine problems differently—to put on my finance hat, my strategy hat and then my human resources hat. I left the academy with a better understanding of how the entire company looks at an issue and a better vantage point from which to solve the problems I face daily.”
Providing access to minds from different roles and different companies throughout the industry, the program is an unmatched opportunity that unites participants in a unique way.
“Attending the academy was very inspiring—by its end, we felt like a family, even though we had spent only a few days together,” says Phillips. Kristyn Kapetanovic