PORK Perspectives: A Minute with Jeff Simmons, Page 2

01:34PM Sep 19, 2019
Jeff Simmons
( Jennifer Shike )

Continued from Page 1

Q. What is one of the greatest challenges young leaders face? 
In young emerging leaders, fear often becomes the ceiling to the trajectory of influence. Courage is the belief that I can make a difference so I’m going to act on it. We need more of that in our industry. I probably didn’t do that until the second half of my career. I probably could have had a bigger impact if I would have realized earlier in my career I should act, I should stand up and that what I do matters. 

Q. What advice do you have for someone who wants to sit at your desk someday? 
Grow. Just like a company needs to grow, you need to grow. Get your why, know what you want to do and why you want to do it. I didn’t intentionally say this is what I wanted to do 30 years ago as a sales rep at Elanco. But I began to realize I could have an impact on hungry people. At the same time, people around me encouraged me to grow. Constant growth centered around your passion takes you where you want to go. Be careful not to chase a job or a certain thing because the world is changing. No matter how much it changes, passionate people who are good at what they do and are constantly growing can really do anything. 

Q. How is African swine fever impacting your business?
Every challenge and every disaster is an opportunity to create dialogue. Animal health is fragile and dynamic. This is an opportunity for the U.S. swine industry to remember biosecurity matters. Our systems matter – the sophistication of all we do really does matter. The demand, this pork gap, is an opportunity to come back with more leadership and we hope more trade. There will be more demand than supply of pork for many years. 

I’m not an ASF expert, but we don’t see an end yet. Sophistication and innovation – no matter the size of the operation – is essential to prevent this in the future, more so than a vaccine. Innovation is absolutely critical and is not related to or dependent on size. We’re innovating – this has not slowed us down. We just purchased a major vaccine swine company – Prevtec Microbia. We’re working on nutritional health as well. Our pipeline is very opportune for swine. We actually see ASF as more of an opportunity than something that would make us step back. 

Q. What will the business look like 20 years from now?
We must be relevant to society. Relevancy is the heart of who we are and where we are going. We must be an x-factor with our customers and our solutions. If not, then you’re just part of the value chain. That’s not the vision for Elanco. We are going headfirst into mental, physical and environment health. To me, it’s going to be thousands of people 20 years from now who are sitting around their dining room tables saying, “I’m living a purposeful life, I’m doing something that matters and my family is in a really good place.” 

Q. What's your advice for the next generation?
My longing for my kids is to find what they are meant to do. I always say the three most important days of your life are the day you find out what your why is, the day you do something about it and the day when it’s coming to an end and you have no regrets.

More from Farm Journal's PORK:

Hunger, Climate Change, Loneliness: Are Healthy Animals the X-Factor?

The Night the Fire Took the Farm

ASF Offers Opportunities for Pork Exports