Carol Kitchen, ’07 MBA, recently joined UFA (United Farmers of Alberta), a $2.1 billion co-op of farmers and ranchers, as the president and CEO. She joins UFA from Land O’Lakes Inc. where she was the senior vice-president and general manager of a business unit with $1.8 billion of annual revenue. She is also a member of the alumni board at the Carlson School.
Here she shares five bits of wisdom she has discovered so far during her career.
1. Having the right talent on your team is a game changer
Getting the right people on your team with a shared passion for the end goal is one of the first keys to success. In the world of being asked to do more with less, over-hiring for a role will pay off.
2. The Golden Rule still applies
Treat people the way you would like to be treated. I have built and kept many relationships by following the Golden Rule. Treating people with respect, honesty, and trust is always a good place to start. Sometimes this means recognizing that you haven’t done so and acknowledging it.
3. Recognize what you can control and what you cannot
In those cases, learn what you can manage and do it well, and then educate and communicate early about the parts not in your control. If you focus on managing what is in your control and do it successfully, your confidence will grow.
4. Create space for people to stop doing things
Create an environment where it is comfortable to challenge organizational thinking/behavior. We all need to have more time in our day. The only way to find it is to stop doing some things that are not value added. Model the behavior by asking “why do we do it this way” or “what would happen if we didn’t do that tomorrow” or “what are we trying to accomplish?” If you don’t get a clear answer, keep asking, because you are probably onto something.
5. Be open to new ideas or opportunities
I have never been the most qualified person for the jobs I have had. I did step outside of the norm by moving or digging into things that were not quite neat and tidy. I learned from those experiences and leveraged them into different roles I would have never anticipated. I differentiated myself in ways that other people didn’t.
For more stories of students, faculty, and alumni, check out the Carlson School magazine