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Editor's Note: Cheryl Morley is president of the Animal Agricultural Group, Monsanto Company, St. Louis. She is responsible for managing all aspects of three businesses: Monsanto Dairy, Monsanto Choice Genetics and Monsanto Protein Technologies. Monsanto Dairy manufactures and sells productivity enhancers directly to dairy producers. Monsanto Choice Genetics sells enhanced genetics to swine producers. Monsanto Protein Technologies is a start-up business, which works with the pharmaceutical business to produce certain proteins more cost effectively in crop systems.

How did you become interested in the agriculture industry?

My early career was in the food industry. I was working at The NutraSweet Company, another Monsanto division, when I transferred to The Agricultural Group in St. Louis. I did not know much about the industry but was very interested in plant biotechnology. I have found agriculture to be fascinating because of its complexity in terms of the issues/opportunities from farm to retail in the U.S. and globally.

What are the key stops you have made in your career path?

I believe the key roles I have held were in finance, strategic planning, brand management and business development. These roles provided me with broad skills, which prepared me for general management.

In addition to agriculture, I have worked in the pharmaceutical and food industries. These are very different industries, and the experiences also have broadened my thinking.

What has been the most fulfilling position you have had?

Most of the positions I have held were fulfilling. I am most proud of my efforts leading a team that turned around a failing business. In that situation, success depended on great people, a focused strategy, excellent teamwork and near-perfect execution. The result was a successful and thriving business.

What is your advice to achieve success in this industry?

My advice, whether in the ag industry or others, is to take assignments in areas that you have a passion for. I find that people who are passionate about the work they do are engaged, great continuous learners and deliver excellent results. Always look for opportunities to enhance or learn new skills, demonstrate your value and network with others to find new opportunities or new things.

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

I began my career in finance and quickly moved into business roles. I really have a passion for business and managing people in general. Although, my background in finance has been a great asset in understanding the business.

I never expected to be in the agricultural business and really had a lot of misperceptions about the industry. I do not think the agricultural industry does a great job of promoting itself. The industry is incredibly interesting and one that opens a number of doors to other industries and opportunities. My entry into agricultural was unplanned, but has become one of the best "unexpected" things that has happened in my career. AM

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