Successful employees are searching for improvement. They are putting in extra effort and time to make a difference for the company and for themselves. Those employees can make an even better impact on your company if they are given great tools to work with.

Providing the employees hungry for growth with the tools they need to be more effective means that they make your business more effective. I should know. I recently completed a program offered by Purdue University’s Center for Food and Agricultural Business called the MS-MBA in Food and Agribusiness Management. The program is a collaboration between Purdue University’s College of Agriculture and Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. The rigor of a master’s in agricultural economics is paired with the diversity of study in the MBA.

Enrolling in the program was one of the best decisions I have made, personally and professionally.

Immediate Application

Both schools focus on immediate application: learn today and apply tomorrow. Quantitative analysis coursework is tough, but applying the statistical analysis to data takes place immediately. In my case, it was the immediate application of regression analysis and predictive modeling. Much of today’s business centers on data, but knowing how to collect and analyze the data in concert allows your business to have the information needed to succeed.

Courses in structured problem solving and decision making helped me shave hours off the meetings where our team would normally struggle and solve the wrong problem. Learning the ins and outs of trade policy, tariffs, and taxes, woven in with marketing data collection and analysis allowed us to make good decisions about what target markets to aggressively pursue or reduce investment in domestically and internationally. Doing the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis and applying strategy affected where and how we wanted to grow. Being able to learn the skills on Tuesday night, after the kids were in bed, and apply them the next day at work meant that I didn’t have to work at memorizing them. I was using them every day.

The coursework has some standardized minimums that every student must have, for good reason. Taking the accounting courses forces the not so financially minded to understand the accounting statements that they often are measured by. Finance and cash flow management coursework allows the employee to make a decision about whether or not to launch a business plan without having to rely on a “gut feeling” that it will work. Law coursework teaches contract law as well as uniform commercial code (UCC) applications and incredible case law history. The operations management work teaches the basics of throughput analysis and process mapping all of the way into six sigma. The content is there, the lessons are tough, and the hours are long, but for any student willing to put in the time, the results are worth it.

Lasting Impact

Each student changes as a result of the education and the process. We each become better time managers, decision makers and, most importantly, more effective employees. We are not tying up the finance department to run net present values (NPVs) and cash flow forecasts. We can make informed decisions about whether survey data is skewed and then develop business and marketing plans to act on the information.

My tuition pays for itself several times per year. Providing the proper tools to the right employees allows them to reach a better potential than either of you thought possible.

Learn More

To learn more about the MS-MBA in Food and Agribusiness Management from Purdue and Indiana universities, visit our website. Contact program manager Taryn Nance with questions at or 765-496-2447.

Bill Stumph is the Chief Financial Officer for Ag Alumni Seed and a 2016 graduate of the MS-MBA in Food and Agribusiness Management.