Although agriculture wasn’t his first choice as a career, after the 2008 financial crisis STB student Zhang Gang felt he didn’t have many other career options. Now, after 13 years working for Clover Seed in China, he can’t imagine working in any other industry.
“To be honest, when I graduated from college, I never thought about being an agronomist. Because of the impact of the financial crisis in 2008, I could not find other non-agricultural jobs at that time. However, after working in the seed industry for a few years, I find agriculture is an industry that many people in China have underestimated.”
To Zhang, agriculture and seed mean job security, and a sense of purpose. Agriculture feeds the world, and seed is crux of that system. There will always be a need for people to work in agriculture, and the industry will only continue to grow. Even with urbanization increasing around the world, the agriculture industry is leaning on seed leaders to innovate and train farmers on modern technology and methods to help meet the demands for food diversification.
Zhang has been able to pull from his real-life work experience and apply it to his studies in the Graduate Program in Seed Technology and Business (STB) at Iowa State University. In agriculture, there is not one way to do things because outside factors of nature cannot be controlled. With his experience, Zhang can see how agriculture and life works in other countries around the world, and how everything is connected, opening his horizons to different possibilities and solutions to problems in his line of work.
To Zhang, agriculture is a way of life, and essential to our growth as a human race. It’s deeply embedded in our systems, yet often overlooked for its importance. “Whether in economic depression or boom, food is a fixed daily consumption for everyone. Since seeds serve as the chip of agriculture, they are crucial to the global food system.”
With his experience working at Clover Seed and being part of the STB program, Zhang can take his knowledge and share with others the important need for agriculture, and seed, to thrive in our world.
I have been working in Clover Seed since I graduated from university in 2009. Currently, I am in charge of seed production and a small breeding farm in Northwest China (Gansu province). Clover Seed is a Hong Kong-based, small seed company. We have been mainly involved in global vegetable and flower seed trading since 1929.
Why did you choose the field of agriculture/agronomy?
To be honest, when I graduated from college, I never thought about being an agronomist. Because of the impact of the financial crisis in 2008(the fact was that I spent most of the time for video games in college because I had no interest in agriculture. I did not get too much improvement in my abilities), I could not find other non-agricultural jobs at that time.
However, after being working in the seed industry for a few years, I find agriculture is an industry that many people in China have underestimated.
There are three reasons why I fell in love with agriculture after dating her.
- Whether in economic depression or boom, food is a fixed daily consumption for everyone. Since seeds serve as the chip of agriculture, they are crucial to the global food system. The demand for seeds is not affected by the economic environment, which means our revenue is guaranteed forever. Many people deem agriculture very risky because we are dealing with Mother nature and cannot control it. As long as you put in the effort to learn more about your crop, you will find your own ways to hedge the risk.
- On the one hand, urbanization has not stopped its pace worldwide. The number of young people willing to work in agriculture is still declining in every country. On the other hand, globalization has increased human’s demand for food diversification. Under this circumstance, seed talents are scarce for every seed company.
- Sense of mission
- I grew up in rural China and I am aware of the various effects of poverty on farmers. As a professional working in the seed sector, we can use our professional knowledge and modern technology to help farmers make more money. This job often gives me a great sense of achievement. I will never forget how happy the farmers felt when they received their seed production payment.
Tell us about your experience being an online learner in the STB program.
I am always interested in new things, so I also keep an eye on other colleagues in addition to doing my work. Many of these fragmented knowledges I learn from other departments are half-understood, and the STB program helps me perceive the principle behind them. It strung these knowledges into a net, allowing me to see the complete picture of the seed industry.
How is the STB program helping you professionally?
I think the STB program has helped me in three dimensions.
- By communicating with peers in the STB program, I can glimpse how agriculture and life are in other countries. The STB program really expands my horizon.
- Professional skills
- The STB program provides us with knowledge and skills of every division of the seed industry. These knowledge and skills are not high-level academic ones but are often be used in our daily work.
- English proficiency
- There is no doubt that globalization has made English one of the most crucial tools in the world. I have to compete with my colleagues in Hong Kong who are very good at English.
Has the information you’ve been learning made any lasting impacts on your contributions at work?
The answer is yes! The problem-solving skills learned from the STB program continuously help me at work and in my personal life. For instance, the presentation methodology learned from the 501 strategy& planning course improved my communication skills. I feel more and more confident when communicating with others in work and life.
What as been the greatest part about the STB program?
The STB program offers a platform where people with different backgrounds, cultures and timetables can communicate and learn from each other.
Would you recommend this program to other professionals in the seed industry? Why/why not?
I strongly recommend this course to everyone working in the seed industry. You can see the full picture of the seed industry here; you can meet new friends here; you can develop a habit of keeping learning new knowledge here.
Become a #seedleader today!