USPOULTRY’s 2017 Financial Management Seminar brought together more than 160 accounting professionals for three days of professional development, education, brainstorming and networking. Attendees learned about a variety of topics including hedging strategies, tax updates, the avian influenza effect on poultry exports and much more.
Mike Popowycz, vice chairman and CFO for Case Farms, addressed how industry challenges such as animal welfare demands, antibiotic use, consumer preference and labor issues all have an impact on financial managers. From a labor perspective, Popowycz remarked, “It is getting harder and harder to hire people. The economy is doing well, and there are a lot of jobs out there. It is forcing us to take a closer look at the cost of automation versus the cost of employment.” He also stressed the importance of attitude, being able to “pay for yourself” and improving the bottom line as a financial manager.
Eddie Elrod, VP, CFO and treasurer for Fieldale Farms, was part of a panel on “Recruiting and Retention Strategies for Accounting Professionals.” Elrod observed that competitive pay is necessary in recruiting and retaining professionals. He also stressed that having competitive benefit packages are key to recruitment and retention, as well as offering other perks such as onsite medical centers, higher education assistance, incentive programs and work-life balance. “We are trying to make sure that just because we have always done something one way, it doesn’t mean that is the way we have to continue doing it, especially in finding ways to provide work-life balance,” Elrod shared.
Rashad Delph, director of talent acquisition for Tyson Foods, also discussed the challenges financial managers face in recruitment and retention. In addition to reviewing Tyson’s college recruiting efforts, he examined retention strategies, including flexible hours, tuition assistance, rotational programs, developing career paths and onboarding. “It is not necessarily how you post the job; but it is how you attract, obtain and then keep people,” Delph explained. He went on to say, “College relations are important, because they establish how you find your talent. We target schools in the poultry belt in the Southeast; and for our fresh meat division, we look in the Big 10 region.” Greg Finch, CFO for Claxton Farms, also participated on the “Recruiting and Retention Strategies for Accounting Professionals” panel.
Recently retired USPOULTRY Controller Seals Burdell gave an overview of the operations and activities of the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association. “Many people who are our members or attend our programs do not know what we do. We are the world’s largest poultry organization. In addition to being one of the three organizers of the International Production & Processing Expo, we offer technical expertise on all bird species. We are the all-feather organization,” Burdell remarked to attendees.