Celebrating Women’s History Month at AgBiome – Part 2
This month, women at AgBiome have come together to discuss their experience as women in STEM and as women in the workforce. In the second half of this two-part series, this group shares their favorite things about working at AgBiome, their passion for their careers, the women who have inspired them, and their advice for others.
Culture and connection
Ask any employee what they love about AgBiome and they are sure to mention the culture. These women shared their thoughts about the company’s values and how AgBiome’s structure encourages employees to explore different opportunities and try new things.
“We have a culture where trust, transparency, feedback, communication, personal and professional growth, and fun at work are part of our daily lives,” said Brooke Bissinger, product manager for Theia® fungicide at AgBiome.
“The entire company is very inviting with excellent communication, which in turn creates a healthy space to bounce ideas off of each other and work towards a common goal,” said McKenna Mathis, channel executive in the PNW area.
Sinnikka Smith, microbiology operations team lead, enjoys collaborating with people from departments outside her own to share ideas and ultimately improve the company as a whole.
“You’re able to be a part of the larger picture here,” said Smith. “Although I work in microbiology, there are always opportunities to learn and help in other departments.”
Helping producers feed the world
Over the past 70 years, agricultural land use has decreased from 63% to 52% (U.S. Department of Agriculture), meaning the producers who grow our food are working with far less land to feed an increasing population. At AgBiome, we are excited to create innovative solutions for the many challenges producers face.
“We have a very collaborative group of people that are highly motivated to excel, and incredible scientists who do an amazing job of discovering and developing products that help growers protect their crops,” said Liz Gaston, communications director at AgBiome.
“We work every day to develop the best biological products for growers in the U.S., and we have made a dedicated effort to support global agriculture,” said Bissinger.
Smith expressed the satisfaction she receives by being part of a company that is passionate about efficiently feeding people across the globe.
“Improving conditions for farmers to have better performing crops with a higher yield to help feed this continually growing world is exciting and rewarding,” said Smith.
Inspiration within AgBiome
Several women reflected on the influence our very own Toni Bucci, chief operations officer of AgBiome, has had on them and the respect they have for her as a leader.
“I look up to Toni Bucci because of her work ethic, energy and how unapologetically honest she is,” said Manasi Ramanna, vice president of finance at AgBiome.
Gaston admires Bucci’s success, determination and passion for the work she does and the people she serves.
“I feel so fortunate to be able to work closely with a highly influential leader,” said Gaston. “She cares about our team but isn't afraid to voice her opinion and always has great feedback to help you get better.”
Women make a lasting impact
This group of women expressed how influential other women in their lives have been, especially their mothers. From their work ethic and positive influence to their encouragement and dedication, their female role models have made a significant impact along the way.
“She could teach a graduate school class on customer service,” Gaston said of her mother. “She always went above and beyond for her customers and taught me early on how valuable that is to a company and how rewarding it can be.”
Bissinger recalled her mother’s belief in and support of her children and shared the impact that had on her as she grew up.
“She's probably the person most responsible for my tenacity because she never let me give up, even if she didn't know how to help me,” said Bissinger.
“My mother has always been a big inspiration to me,” said Mathis. “She always seemed to get everything done and still seemed to have a smile on her face; she has boss woman energy.”
“She did not have the same opportunities as I have had, but she was a force,” said Rebekah Kelly, trait program lead at AgBiome, of her grandmother. “She was courageous and pushed the boundaries for herself and the women around her.”
For Smith, it was her undergraduate professor and advisor, Dr. Elizabeth Wolfinger, who encouraged her to overcome difficult circumstances, stay in school and follow her passion.
“She was always there pushing me to do new things and introducing me to opportunities that I didn’t know existed,” said Smith. “She helped me participate in my first conference, complete my first undergraduate research project, find my first job in agriculture research – and she believed in me before I believed in myself.”
The next generation
The women at AgBiome are passionate about encouraging other women who are new to the workforce to be brave and try new things. They want others to know that they are capable of doing great things in all areas of their lives with a little determination and a desire to learn.
“Don't be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and try something new or ask for feedback,” said Gaston. “You’re not going to get better without it!”
Kelly encourages others to be curious and ask questions.
“When you are starting your career, you are not expected to know everything,” said Kelly. “Ask as many questions as you can to learn the industry, job, company and people.”
“If you want something, go and get it,” said Mathis. “There is nothing wrong with speaking your mind and telling others exactly what you need and when.”
Smith reflected on the strength women can raise to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals.
“I don’t believe it’s easy for women, then when you add being a woman of color it can be even harder and less clear of a path,” said Smith. “However, I do believe it’s possible.”
Bissinger wants others to know that finding a healthy work-life balance is necessary and rewarding.
“You can have a fulfilling, impactful career and be deeply engaged with your family, friends and interests outside of work,” said Bissinger. “Give yourself permission to focus on yourself.”
“It’s all about the journey,” said Ramanna. “As long as you are learning, it will make you that much better when you arrive.”