Sri Zaheer

The Silicon Valley of Food and Agriculture

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

If there is any place that could rightfully claim that title, Minnesota would have to be considered a strong contender. Without even thinking too hard, you can rattle off numerous giants of the industry headquartered here—Cargill, CHS, General Mills, Land O'Lakes, Hormel, The Mosaic Company. The list is truly staggering.

I've often spoken of business as being a force for good. These local food giants exemplify that dictum. Every one of them is tasked with feeding an ever growing population in the face of ever dwindling resources while simultaneously operating in a culture that promotes healthy food choices and environmental sustainability. And not only do they do it, they do it well. And just as innovation is the hallmark of Silicon Valley, these companies have embraced innovation. They ever reside on the cutting-edge of new technologies and new processes to ensure that humanity can be well fed for generations to come.

In this fall's alumni magazine, we heard from experts—both industry executives and researchers—about the state of food and agriculture today, where it is going, and some of the challenges that lie ahead. We also saw the significant role a business school plays in this domain. Beginning this fall, we are launching a dual degree MBA program with the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences' Applied Economics master's program. This is just one example of our new, food-driven initiatives. 

Food is also fun. We included a variety of short articles about alumni who have launched their own food businesses, students who have created food products as class assignments, and current faculty research on this timeless topic. Indeed, the Carlson School provides something for everyone's taste in the food industry, no matter what stage they are at in their careers. 

This year marks the 25th anniversary of our highly successful 1st Tuesday Speaker Series. To celebrate that milestone and to directly tie into this fall issue's food theme, we sat down with our May speaker, Cargill Chairman and CEO David MacLennan. He expanded on his topic of "The Future of Food" and explained why he found 1st Tuesday the perfect venue to share his thoughts.

Finally, I would like to call attention to a new section in our magazine. We have added eight pages devoted to Engagement and Giving. You will read about how our students and programs are directly impacted by the generous support from Carlson School friends like you. In this section, we also introduce the Investors Circle, a unique club to recognize our school champions. For without our benefactors, we could not be at the forefront of transformational business education. 

So thank you.