“I started with Richardson 12 years ago and have had five different roles over that time period. My story is not unusual around here.”
Connor’s journey at Richardson International demonstrates the company’s commitment to employee growth and development. Even without a specific background in agriculture or operations, today, Connor is the Director of Operations at Richardson’s grain handling terminal in Hamilton, Ontario.
Richardson’s Operations Development Program is helping employees with drive get into roles like Connor’s.
Early in his career, Connor got a job with Richardson. He was introduced to operations side of the business – which includes its processing, manufacturing, grain handling, and port terminal facilities – when he was offered a promotion.
“After thinking about the opportunities it would present, like having a greater understanding of our business, I decided to take on the challenge,” Connor said.
Now he leads the team at the terminal in Hamilton, a role that Connor said offers a good mix of daily tasks and long-term planning to take advantage of future business opportunities.
Skills in Action
After graduating, Connor realized that merchandising and then operations suited his personality and career goals. Also helping him reach those goals was Richardson’s variety of training programs.
“Whether it’s skills directly related to your role or a wider view through the Operations Development Program, there are a lot of training opportunities here at Richardson that allow employee to grow within the organization.”
The three-year Operations Development Program provides employees with in-depth plant and equipment experience in a hands-on operational environment. With the support of a mentor, employees have the chance to work at multiple locations and experience key areas of Richardson’s various business divisions.
“The goal of the Operations Development Program is to develop employees and to get them to a point where they can take over supervisor roles in a variety of our business operations,” explained Connor.
Making an Impact
Connor is energized knowing the work he and his team are doing is having an impact.
“I enjoy being able to see the fruits of my labour,” he said. “To be able to actually see the work that you’re doing make a difference – you’re helping that farmer continue to harvest his crop by unloading his grain as quickly as possible. You’re loading the vessels for customers in Europe or Asia. Or you’re offloading from the facility by truck to flour mills and then eventually seeing that grain we brought from Pioneer facilities on the store shelves as flour. It’s great to see that process from farm to fork.”
Understanding how his work fits into the wider Richardson business, Connor knows that his success at Richardson is tied to the success of his team.
“We’re always looking to improve our operations. And ideas to do that come from employees at every level of the organization,” said Connor, adding that new employees often bring a fresh perspective. When employees have a sense of ownership, they contribute at a high level. Those contributions can often be the first step towards taking on a new role.
Word of Advice
There is no one set way to get into operations, explained Connor. Those with scientific, mechanical, and commercial or analytical mindsets can all find success.
“Whatever your background is, so long as you’re passionate and want to perform well, there’s a home for you in operations. Richardson has allowed me to take on some challenges outside my skillset to be able to grow and help move the company forward.”