Beth Ford, CEO of Land O & # 39; Lakes, Cornfield at C-suite

Today, as the first female CEO of Land O 'Lakes – and first female CEO to openly figure among the largest US Fortune 500 companies -, Ford remembers A conversation with his mother years ago had taught him that "even though we may not have everything, we have enough, and given what we have, we expected a lot of us. "

She said, "Do you understand what is expected of you? Do you understand how much you have? Do not disappoint, "and I thought," I have to work hard not to be disappointed, "says Ford.

Ford has a vision for Land O & # 39; Lakes. She wants to transform society's perceptions of butter and cream and bring attention to the efforts she is making in the agri-technology sector.

"My vision is to continue investing in technology," she says. "It takes agility – e-commerce, e-business, and technology are shaking up all sectors, including agriculture, and there's an opportunity when you have a technology-driven, technology-driven business. the understanding, as I believe, is Land O & # 39; Lakes. "

The future of Land O & # 39; Lakes

In July, the United States imposed tariffs on Chinese imports worth $ 34 billion, which China called the start of "the biggest trade war in history economic". In response, China has imposed tariffs on billions of dollars of US exports, including cotton, dairy products and soybeans.

"Grain producers, producers and producers across the United States are all affected by the uncertainty surrounding trade negotiations and retaliatory tariffs," Ford said. "Access to export markets is essential for these farmers and the agricultural sector, and we are witnessing a slowdown due to the uncertainty of the trading environment."

Ford says that she spoke to soybean producers and other people concerned with the pricing policy.

"What I would like to say to you is that our member farmers are aware that the administration is trying to fight intellectual property theft," she said. "They want to make sure that they have proper trade agreements, and I think they're supportive."

According to her, these farmers first and foremost need resolution and clarity, quickly.

"Time is critical," she says. "So, what is the most important thing that the administration can do? It can act quickly to solve these business problems and solve these tariff problems."

Be a first

When the announcement of the Ford promotion to the CEO position was announced, the press release celebrated its achievements, but it made no particular mention of a "first" important in the history of Fortune 500.

With the promotion of Ford, she became the first openly gay female CEO to run a Fortune 500 company.

In the months that followed, she heard how much this "first" had counted for her.

"People came to see me and thanked me," she says. "And it 's not just the LGBTQ community, it' s just people in their normal lives who say," Thank you for being genuine and encouraging others to do it. "

Ford says she's never been discriminated against during her career, but she certainly considered her potential impact on herself and her family.

"I had made deliberate decisions in some places where I felt like it was not so friendly," she says. "I said:" The job looks great.You are a great leader.I can not be here because I do not think it will be great.My wife is a woman. and I have a girl. "

Regarding the percentage of women CEOs in the Fortune 500, she said that progress can only be truly achieved when the total number of women leaders increases, which she sees as a "shared responsibility". "management teams and their talent development programs.

On the way to C-suite, she recalls a new important lesson given by her mother: "Beth, if you want something, ask for it."

"You expect to be recognized because you have done the hard work, and that's not how it always happens," Ford said.