C magazine

Heart to serve

Sarah Olsen, Cooperative Grain and Supply

Jan 04, 2019

合作的心态并不总是从农场开始的.

“I don’t have an ag background. 我父亲是牧师,我母亲从事教育工作,”堪萨斯州皮博迪市的萨拉·奥尔森(Sarah Olsen)说.她在堪萨斯州希尔斯伯勒(Hillsboro)粮食合作与供应(Cooperative Grain and Supply)担任主管的第三年即将结束. “I couldn’t even tell the difference between crops. 但我爷爷有一个农场,我知道他把小麦送到电梯.”

奥尔森的餐厅管理生涯把她带到了附近的堪萨斯州马里恩., where much of life revolves around the cooperative. 在电梯里工作两个收获季节,然后和丈夫结婚经营农场, James, 最终敲定了交易,并为当地合作公寓董事会带来了客观的新声音.

“我已经做了一年的副董事,然后有两个董事职位空缺. I asked my grandpa, ‘Why did cooperatives start?’他说,‘归根结底,和记h188怡情自己做不到.’ That struck a chord with me."

 

Thinking Big

In the four years since Olsen joined the board, she has seen a failed merger vote; retirement of a general manager; and solidification of limited liability company partnerships in grain marketing, feed and propane supply. 她说,一开始董事的平均年龄是55岁或60岁. “Now I think our average age is 40 or 42. I’m 32 and two directors are younger than I am.”

Board seats held by women

奥尔森承认,寻找新的董事会成员是一个持续的挑战. 但她认为,前任总经理莱曼•亚当斯(Lyman Adams)和现任总经理杰里•芬斯克(Jerry Fenske)帮助董事会拓宽了思路.

“在寻找新的董事会成员时,和记h188怡情试图跳出常规思维. 这很困难,因为和记h188怡情要求那些本来就很忙、很努力的人更加忙、更努力. The volunteer pool is small. 任何有心为之服务的人都可以被摊得很薄.”

许多地方合作社如果想扩大候选群体,就需要制定合作社成员标准, she adds. Her cooperative allows joint membership, 这让她和詹姆斯都有资格获得董事会席位,因为他们是农场和合作社账户的共同所有者. “和记h188怡情做出这个决定是为了确保未来的过渡顺利进行. And it allowed me to run for the board.”

 

Objectivity Helps

奥尔森回忆说,学习合作经营并不总是一件容易的事.

“当和记h188怡情开始讨论股权和赎回时,经历了一个很大的学习过程. 这是我一生中最棒的学习经历."

奥尔森补充说,愿意畅所欲言对任何一位导演都至关重要. “我在董事会里很有发言权,会问很多问题. 作为董事会成员,和记h188怡情的职责是根据和记h188怡情得到的信息做出尽可能好的决定, so I like to have information.”

Diversity in Leadership

In her brief tenure as a director, 对于谁应该成为合作董事会成员,奥尔森已经看到了更开放的想法. “一开始,和记h188怡情参加有限责任公司的会议时,我是唯一的女性. 但现在有三四个其他的女性董事在地区会议上. 这意味着合作社正在向外拓展,并且做的事情也有所不同.”

The bottom line is simple, 她说:“和记h188怡情只想要一个关心合作的人,并且在心里保持合作价值观的人. 这是否意味着你们是百分百合作的企业? Let’s face it, 今天很难对任何一家公司保持100%的忠诚, but to know you want this cooperative to keep going, that’s important."

 

Keep Learning

奥尔森表示,继续教育对长期董事价值至关重要. “拥有一个受过教育的董事会来做出行业决策至关重要. 和记h188怡情是和记h188怡情新领袖论坛的大力支持者,和记h188怡情也派董事参加其他领导力项目.”

There are benefits to long-term thinking, the young director adds, and boards are moving in the right direction. “I have seen a shift in the cooperative system, 董事会在未来的5年或10年里做出决定,而不仅仅是在本财年. That’s how it should be.

“他们告诉你,当你走进会议室时,摘掉你的农民帽子. 我不一定同意这一点——和记h188怡情在会议室里是因为和记h188怡情是农民. At the end of the day, farmers need to make a dollar to save a dollar, and the co-op has to do the same thing.”

 

Check out the full C magazine with this article and more.