Case Study

Cenex Harvest States (CHS, Inc.), a leading global agribusiness owned by U.S. farmers, ranchers, and co-ops, has earned its place amongst the Fortune 100. After developing a plan to grow the business through year 2020 and beyond, CHS invested in developing leaders within the company. The company looked to the experienced course counselors at Executive Education to design a custom curriculum to hone their employees’ ability to influence others and build partnerships.

Senior faculty from the Carlson School and College of Food Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota joined industry practitioners to fine tune several courses to help CHS cultivate leaders prepared to carry the company into the future. CHS University incorporated lessons around strategy, finance, decision making, and leadership.

In 2008, CHS leadership attended and evaluated the first session of CHS University. Since then, more than 500 students have enrolled in this 4-module experience to gain relevant business skills, a shared language, and common frameworks. Guided by faculty instructors, team members worked in small groups to complete a real-world capstone project.

In 2010, University of Minnesota Professor of Agricultural Economics Dr. Michael Boland, a co-op expert, recommended more in-depth leadership development for CHS. The Future 40, a residential program led by innovative University faculty from a variety of fields, is the result of an effective collaboration crafted to develop CHS’s global leaders. Future 40 offers a group of hand-selected participants the opportunity to engage in three weeks of learning and networking at the Carlson School. The final module is an immersion experience, most recently held in Argentina.

CHS University and Future 40 programs continue to evolve and challenge participants, who are honored by the company’s investment in their growth, year after year.

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