“Your own success really has to be determined by you. Never underestimate your own personal passion to excel,” said Gary Cooper, chief operating officer, Cooper Farms, and past USPOULTRY chairman, as he addressed attendees at USPOULTRY’s 2014 Women’s Leadership Conference in Destin, Florida. In his presentation, Personal and Professional Success, Cooper reviewed statistical information on women’s leadership roles, discussed personal interview responses with women leaders in his own company and shared his recommendations for success.

Reviewing varied paths to success in their Profiles of Industry Women in Leadership Roles, Sarah Hendricks, vice president of human resources, Keystone Foods; Dr. Chris Fritts, manager of global vaccination technologies and services, Merial Select; and Dr. Christine Daugherty, chief technology officer, Cobb-Vantress, provided insight into their progress in becoming leaders within their companies and the industry. Hendricks discussed three lessons learned, including addressing diversity in one’s career, realizing differences in leadership styles and embracing and making choices. Fritts observed the importance of having mentors and shared several traits for being a good mentor. Daugherty challenged everyone to “take the initiative,” remarking that attendees should “get comfortable being uncomfortable, as you can never be a leader if you do not get out of your comfort zone.”

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In her presentation on Risk-Taking to Move You Forward: A Leadership Competency, Barrb Mistarz, vice president and general counsel, Wayne Farms, commented that “you don’t stumble upon success; you have to pursue it, and you have to take some risks to do it.” She observed that embracing risk-taking helps you to get over the fear of failure, and opportunities arise from risk-taking.