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ADVENTURES IN AG
Dennis L. Erpelding is the manager of government relations, public affairs and communications for Elanco Animal health, Indianapolis. He coordinates Elanco's global strategy for government relations, public affairs and communication and serves as Elanco's media spokesperson.

How did you become interested in the agriculture industry?

I was raised on a diversified dairy, swine, poultry and crop farm in Whittemore, Iowa, and valued the farm life and being a part of the food production sector. College provided a broad perspective on agriculture. Also, college advisors encouraged me to seek summer interns outside of Iowa and to look at non-farm opportunities.

What has been the most fulfilling position you have had?

The global government relations, public affairs and communications position has been the most fulfilling. First, successful lobbying in the political arena; second, the successful public affairs initiatives for a new product launch; and third, media interviews providing perspective on key issues - including one live interview on BBC TV from Brussels. The political knowledge, product positioning, global networking and cultural exposures are excellent career experiences.

What is your advice to achieve success in this industry?

Be open to new opportunities and challenges. Also, seek roles that provide transferable skills, ones that broaden your horizon and positions that expose you to different business aspects.

Is this the direction you originally thought your career path would take?

Thinking back to the days of looking out the barn door in Whittemore, Iowa, the path has been adventuresome. My travels have been worldwide from Tokyo to Bangkok to Sao Paulo to Brussels and Geneva. The business dialogues range from the president of the European Union Parliament and the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives to writers with the Financial Times and leaders of producer groups and agribusiness.

In summary, the direction of my career path has varied and the industry focus has changed, but the change has yielded a fruitful and magnificent pathway! AM


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