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Your company benefits from the business and economic skills you learn

By Mary Bowen

 

The Master of Agribusiness (MAB) distance-degree program at Kansas State University understands how important it is for agribusiness professionals to have the knowledge and skills to excel in today’s rapidly changing food and agricultural global economy. It is hard to believe solving a homework problem could result in saving your company more than one million dollars, but for one MAB student that is exactly what happened. 

While working on an assignment for the “Optimization Techniques for Agribusiness” course, Mike Hofer, Vice President of Agriculture for The Western Sugar Cooperative, realized by recommending a different product mix, his company would see substantial savings.

“Our Sugar beet cooperative has five sugar beet processing factories in a four-state area and produces up to 700,000 tons of pressed pulp to either be sold to the local cattle market in a wet form or dried into pellets and shipped overseas. The optimization course helped me analyze the co-products’ businesses more effectively by assessing many variables and limitations at once. The results were a recommendation of product mix from each factory that maximized revenues and a tool that can be updated as energy prices change. This analysis resulted in a change in focus of how we manage our co-products business and approximately $1.4 million in savings for the year,” Hofer said.

One of the main goals of the MAB program is to provide food and agribusiness professionals strategies for making informed decisions based on an understanding of current issues and a combination of analytical and problem-solving skills to implement solutions to firm-level problems. Information is presented in class so that students apply key concepts while immediately integrating what they have learned to work situations.

“Through the comprehensive curriculum of the MAB program, I was able to apply what I learned into a variety of new facets of my company. My thesis led to an improved supply chain, which provided major savings to our customers and new revenue streams for our company,” John Brasington, an Indirect Banana Customer Account Manager with Dole Fresh Fruit Company, said.

The MAB program also strives to create an environment of learning which transcends global boundaries, both academically and geographically. Having students from around the world representing different sectors of the industry greatly adds to learning experience and provides lifelong friends and business contacts.

“Aside from being a nationally known and very well respected program, the opportunity to meet my peers and professors was invaluable. Not only did we get the chance to put a face to a name, but we also had multiple opportunities to network and pick the brains of our fellow students and teachers. The MAB has exposed me to many different aspects of the world of agriculture and consequently, a network of intelligent, unique individuals from whom I continue to learn,” said Cargill Supply Chain Specialist Katlin Hall.

MAB students earn a fully accredited master’s degree through distance education. The conveniences of distance education make going back to school without career interruption possible, even for those in jobs requiring travel. Course work is done through the Internet, DVDs, podcasts and chatrooms. Students also visit the K-State or Universiti Sains Malaysia campus two weeks a year. The time on campus allows students to meet classmates and faculty, receive training on the technology, interact with industry leaders, and give group project presentations. 

The MAB is currently taking applications for the January and April 2013 cohorts. To find out how the MAB can advance your career by further developing your business and economic skills, please go towww.mab.ksu.edu, call 785-532-4495 or e-mail mab@agecon.ksu.edu.