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Building on Our Vision: A Year of Innovative Growth

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When Dr. Michael Gunderson started serving as the director for the Purdue University Center for Food and Agricultural Business in May of 2018, he entered his position at a time of immense change for both the Center and industry as a whole. Today, producers have opportunities to leverage technology and data to improve farm decision making. Changing consumer preferences provide prospects for differentiation and value creation. Changing weather patterns, new trade disputes and growing global competition are challenging U.S. producers. These are among the most important of a long list of disruptions facing the industry.

Refocusing on the core competencies in the Center provided an exciting first year as director for Mike. His priorities for the Center include strengthening the thought leadership among Center affiliated faculty, developing new means of assessing the impact the Center has among clients, and developing a new roster of faculty experts who can provide high quality opportunities to food and agribusiness professionals. In this constantly changing industry, the Center is focused on helping agribusinesses prepare for what the future is to bring and overcome what disruption throws their way. The strategy changes that have taken place in the Center for Food and Agricultural Business over the past year have been instrumental in following through on this focus.

For over three decades, the Center has played an integral role in food and agricultural businesses. In keeping with the prevalent trend of disruption, Mike made it his priority for the Center’s structure to match that of its innovative function. Beginning his position at the conclusion of a strategic plan, Mike set out with a vision to determine the Center’s focus and forge the relationships, values and organizational structure that would best reflect this focus.

Strategic decisions to restructure leadership roles, incorporate new faculty members into programs and increase teamwork efforts have all been steps in increasing the capabilities of the Center to succeed in equipping agribusiness professionals. New team members have provided energy and optimism, leading changes in client experience, marketing, graphic design and more. The recent incorporation of four new faculty members serves to engage, collaborate and continue the Center’s mission of providing high quality, research-based solutions to agribusinesses.

The innovative and creative changes within the Center for Food and Agricultural Business that Mike and his team have worked to implement over the last year have been essential in shifting with the industry to provide top programs and research. Looking forward to what the future has to offer, Mike is optimistic that the Center will continue to grow and prosper.

"Building on the vision that Dr. Dave Downey established more than thirty years ago, the Center team is committed to being the facilitators of connections among faculty experts and food and agricultural professionals. No team is more well poised to deliver on the Center goal of being the partner of choice for agribusiness expertise and professional development,” said Mike.

Over the past year under Mike’s leadership, the Center for Food and Agricultural Business has implemented several innovative tactics to aid agribusinesses in surviving and thriving. Different from the foundation up, the Center’s location on a top-notch land grand university gives it a unique perspective with a lens of academic rigor. The newly restructured strategy and team of staff and faculty experts that Mike has built is sure to continue the Center’s trailblazing efforts positioned around furthering the food and agribusiness industry for years to come.

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