DECEMBER 2018 SEEDWORLD.COM / 13 While Flint doesn’t live on a farm today, he still spends a lot of time on customers’ farms, and he’s still working for them. At this year’s World Food Prize, he hosted a panel of farmers to discuss top-of-mind issues and the importance of technology and innovation. Build an Understanding Flint easily navigates classrooms and boardrooms, relying on skills his mother taught him: observe, listen and work to understand the challenge and underlying causes before determining strategies to address it. “Over the years and through my industry involvement with ASTA, I’ve worked to broaden my understanding of other aspects of the seed industry,” Flint says, adding that he’s thankful for people who took the time to explain different production systems and business envi- ronments. “The more I became involved, the more excited I was about the sheer breadth and depth of the industry and the association — it really does represent everything from alfalfa to zucchini.” As an ASTA officer, Flint says this presents a challenge for the industry, but it’s also an opportunity. “We ask people to participate in conversations we’re having in the seed industry, like some of the discussions we’re having on plant breeding innova- tions or seed standards,” he says. “To get this association to work effectively, it’s important that we get as many people to engage as possible.” He notes the importance of deep and broad effrts, where the staff and commit- tee chairs look to engage stakeholders throughout the seed industry and the value chain at all levels (local, regional and national). Flint credits this diversity to the asso- ciation’s success as issues and policies are truly vetted before making recommenda- tions to state, federal and even interna- tional governing bodies. It’s this same diversity that Flint looks for when leading teams as part of Corteva Agriscience, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont. Prior to the merger, Flint served as vice president of regulatory affairs for DuPont for eight years. When we talk about diversity of teams, Flint says it’s not just about ethnicity or gender. “I look at diversity of technical and hard skills, experiences — people who aren’t afraid to speak up and voice their opinion and people who have the experience to tackle hard challenges,” he says. “Diversity makes a huge difference in whether you’re suc- cessful in overcoming an obstacle.” The other piece of the puzzle that Flint says is equally impor- tant is the ability to articulate goals and needs. If a team doesn’t understand what the challenge is or what the objectives are and the parameters, it can really delay pro- gress and prolong the process. Then, Flint says, you have to give people permission to be wrong. Risk Doesn’t Always Equal Reward “If you’re taking risks and putting yourself out there, not every risk is going to pay off,” he says. “You have to strike a balance of trying new things, taking risks and evaluating progress.” IBM’s Thomas Watson, Sr., once said: “The fastest way to succeed is to double your failure rate.” According to the Harvard Business Review, more and more executives are coming to embrace this point of view, coming to understand that failure is a prerequisite to invention. However, when things don’t go as planned, Flint admits those can be difficult conversations. He also recognizes the importance of knowing when you need to step away and when you need to double down. Flint has brought this same approach to his work at ASTA, moving up through the ranks from participating in committees to serving on the board and for the past three years as an officer of the executive team. “One of the things I’ve learned, especially on the policy side, is that you have to work really hard to ensure the lines of commu- nication are open between industry sectors and all the different committees,” he says. “I think that there have been significant improvements during the past five to six years in this area. “One of the ways we’ve been able to achieve this, thanks to president and CEO Andy LaVigne, is by encouraging the board to more actively participate in the committee meetings espe- cially in key areas that relate to our strategic plan. “We are able to take the diversity that makes ASTA what it is and leverage it as a strength.” As an example, Flint says that when trying to reach consum- ers, ASTA has a broad enough industry base that if the right people are brought to the table, they can make a big difference in showing the value of the seed industry to the broader public. Flint is a big believer in service: to your community, to your industry and to society. When he was approached about serving as an ASTA officer, Flint says “no” wasn’t even an option. It was more about “how can I make it work?” “I want to challenge others to think about how they can serve the industry and society,” Flint adds. “What unique skills do you possess? What knowledge do you have and how can you use it to ensure the next generation is ready to lead the industry forward and tackle the next set of challenges?” SW SEEDS OF SUCCESS As the Global Initiatives and Sustainability leader for Corteva Agriscience, Jerry Flint uses a three- pronged approach to manage successful teams. 1. Ensure teams are diverse. 2. Clearly articulate the challenge and goals. 3. Create an environment where people can be wrong. “You have to strike a balance of trying new things, taking risks and evaluating progress.” —Jerry Flint