Home' HR Monthly : October 2015 Contents 34
says. "This challenge will only get harder and it isn't just one
strategy that will help farmers achieve that. We need to work
together across all areas to deliver sustainable solutions that
help make farmers more productive, including biotechnology,
genetics, precision agriculture, data and biologicals."
He says HR has a crucial task in this, to inspire that sense of
purpose. "It's the role of HR to convey that notion -- that we all
have a part to play in a bigger picture, and this is how you can
Also important, says Bailey, is to make sure employees
hear good news stories highlighting work they and Monsanto
do. For example, Kruithoff says Monsanto's insect-resistant,
genetically modified cotton has revolutionised the Australian
cotton industry, allowing it to use 55 per cent less insecticide
and 40 per cent less water.
"We understand that we are polarising, but we choose to
focus on the positive work our people do day in, day out,"
says Bailey, adding that she has never had a staff member leave
because of Monsanto's reputation.
Bailey has experienced quite a change from her previous HR
role at global greeting card company Hallmark. That was a
well-loved and respected brand. "I went from one of the least
controversial to one of the most controversial businesses in the
world," she says.
Diversity is where Monsanto wins bouquets rather than brickbats.
DiversityInc magazine ranks it in the top 50 companies globally.
"We don't treat diversity and inclusion as an isolated program or
"WE UNDERSTAND THAT WE ARE POLARISING,
BUT WE CHOOSE TO FOCUS ON THE
POSITIVE WORK OUR PEOPLE DO
DAY IN, DAY OUT."
JULIA BAILEY, HUMAN RESOURCES LEAD, MONSANTO AUSTRALIA
initiative," says Kruithoff. "We see there are three key dimensions
-- the tone set from the top, making it a key part of doing business,
and sustaining it over time."
The Australian office has 17 different nationalities, and 51
per cent of its workforce and 60 per cent of its leadership group
are female. Bailey says a key Monsanto tenet is that it should
reflect the diversity of its global customers by hiring people
with a variety of experiences, opinions and backgrounds.
"Innovation can come from anyone, anywhere. We have to have
managers who live and breathe this inclusive philosophy."
Pace of growth
Monsanto has experienced rapid growth in Australia, often as a
result of global acquisitions of companies with local subsidiaries.
Kruithoff says staff must be comfortable with change, and agility
is a core competency they are assessed on.
"It's a very, very pacey environment," says Bailey, likening it
to "drinking out of a firehose everyday."
Rapid growth has also required rapid leadership development.
Kruithoff has restructured the 10-strong leadership group, with
six new members, including Bailey, and most are young -- in
their 30s and early 40s.
Bailey, 39, began a 'leadership journey' for the group
three years ago. It started with high-level diagnostic and
self-assessment tools to make them aware of and accountable
for their strengths and development areas, and to increase
emotional intelligence. "We've shifted from a hierarchical,
prescriptive approach to leadership, to one of leaders having to
champion their own development," she says.
For Kruithoff, 36, the leadership journey has been revelatory.
The city-bred agricultural science graduate joined Monsanto's
Australian office in 2002 in an entry-level customer service role
that included receptionist duties. He was then in various marketing
and strategy roles for 10 years, as well as running the Australian
seed business after the Seminis acquisition.
Under Bailey's guidance, he has been able to prioritise
his own development as his team's leadership skills have grown.
"I've learned to become a bit more relaxed, to know when to
fight the good fight and when not to," he says. "I can be a
bit hard-driven sometimes. The culture here is very driven,
but also collegiate and casual. So I've learned to let things go
a bit more."
People development, and how to measure its success, has been
a focus of the leadership training. "Development is absolutely
a critical part of what we do," says Kruithoff. "We have to
Shannon Morris Photography
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