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Hot jobs in the seed industry

Someone once said the pen is mightier than the sword. Update that idea and you might decide the computer is mightier than the pickup. To succeed in agriculture today, we all need to take advantage of our gray matter even more than muscle.

The same goes for seed production. Modern plant breeding requires a set of skills that would amaze our grandparents. Agriculture companies are investing judiciously in research technologies and facilities. To achieve a smart return on investment, personnel is being added who can capably use these tools to develop future generations of seed products.

Complexity is growing all around us, affecting everything we do. The seed industry is no exception. As we make scientific advances, develop new technologies and learn more about genetics, we must continue to develop our skills to create new generations of crop seeds for growers working to feed the world.

Companies like Pioneer Hi-Bred, a DuPont business, are adding expertise in both new and traditional fields to accelerate the development of better hybrids and varieties. Areas of growth include plant breeding, biotechnology, regulatory affairs and information technologies. These disciplines are working together to use resources efficiently and maximize return on investment dollars.

“While diligence, hard work and dedication are still vital to success in agriculture, we also realize the need to use the scientific tools at our disposal to improve the products we offer growers,” says Cindy Heser, Pioneer’s senior Human Resources manager of talent acquisition. “At Pioneer, we’ll continue to add the smartest, hardest-working people to our staff. As they master ever-newer technologies, we expect to bring better seeds to help raise profits and meet the world’s feed and fuel needs.”

Both experienced talent and the brightest talent from universities can find careers in agriculture.

A new skill set
The need for world-class breeders is greater than ever. Today’s plant breeders must possess critical skills to succeed in the current environment. First and foremost, they must have a field breeding and agronomy base. That’s vital to creating and advancing of new products. They also must understand molecular breeding tools.

Behind the breeders
As more advanced technologies are being wielded, more data is being gathered and cutting-edge products that require swift regulatory approval are being developed. This requires heightened skills in information management and regulatory affairs disciplines.

The regulatory affairs arena requires two skill sets. First, technically oriented people who can generate data in the lab or in the field in highly disciplined ways, making it easy for regulatory officials to review and understand. Second, people able to talk to farmer groups, regulators and the public about research are needed. They have to be able to explain technical information in a simple way.

Data management is key
Ag companies are keeping on the cutting edge of information technology. It’s important to hire top information technology professionals who can bring new ideas to the businesses where they work. Information technology experts take tremendous amounts of raw data and deliver it to computer screens in formats that help make better business decisions. Data must be easy to access and understand for scientists to improve and analyze crops. Agriculture needs experts – from statisticians to analysts to applications developers to database managers.

Sharing a goal
“At Pioneer, we select employees who share our Core Values of safety and health, environmental stewardship, highest ethical standards and respect for people,” says Heser. “The vast majority bring strong connections to agriculture. They connect to the goal of helping feed and fuel the world. Pioneer believes diversity is a virtue in the workforce, and we hire the best individuals regardless of background, age, race, gender or other characteristics.”

Thank you to Pioneer for this article. Elements of this article were drawn from “Better brains, better seeds” in the Feb. 2011 issue of Pioneer Growing Point Magazine.