Q&A with Seth Taylor of the Commercial Excellence Leadership Program
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Q: Tell us a little about yourself, and how you were led to the Commercial Excellence Leadership Program (CELP).
A: I grew up two hours West of San Antonio, in Eldorado, Texas, working in agriculture and developing a passion for business while spending time in my father’s pharmacy.
I fulfilled a major goal by attending The University of Texas at Austin for my undergraduate studies, where I earned a BA in Government and Minored in Business in 2008. Upon graduation, I worked in Dallas for three years at a political fundraising and strategy consulting firm. While working in politics, I developed a lot of skills that I still use today, and my interaction with candidates and successful business leaders on campaigns drove me to pursue a MBA.
While at Wake Forest University Graduate School of Business in Winston-Salem, N.C., my course concentration was in Finance. My summer MBA internship was in New York City in Oil & Natural Gas Brokerage. Upon returning to Winston-Salem, for the second year of my MBA, I attended an information session for the Commercial Excellence Leadership Program that fellow WFU Alum, Jason Wistehuff, U.S. Cereals Herbicide product manager, was hosting. I immediately felt the fit between my background and passions and the program at Bayer CropScience.
I moved to Raleigh with my now fiancé, Meredith, in June of 2013, and we recently adopted an amazing six–year-old Golden Retriever, Kaylee.
Q: What was it about the Commercial Excellence Leadership Program that made you apply for the program?
A: The ability to not only develop my business knowledge further in the working world, but also begin to develop professionally within a large, well respected corporation such as Bayer CropScience.
Q: What are your general thoughts about your experience so far?
A: The first year has been great and has gone by very fast; it has been fantastic to learn from so many great colleagues that don’t hesitate to spend a few minutes with me if I have a question. I will be the first to admit that I was overwhelmed with the industry and its nuances when I first started, but the support from my managers and peers really helped with the steep learning curve.
Q: What rotations have you done so far? What have you liked about them? What has been your favorite?
A: I have been lucky to have two great rotations so far. There are no favorites as each of them are an opportunity to learn, develop and contribute.
My first rotation was within Marketing Research where I was able to learn the industry quickly by developing analysis of in-season sales data with colleagues. The rotation concluded with a thorough analysis of a financing program that helped me learn quite a bit about our customers.
Currently, I am nearing the end of my second rotation that has been within Horticulture and understanding the value that Bayer CropScience innovations, such as Luna, will bring to the market by extending the shelf-life of produce.
When interviewing for the Commercial Excellence Leadership Program, I remember asking our Vice President of marketing, David Hollinrake, “How do you envision the rotational program working?” To which his response was, “Seth, I want you to learn as much as possible in each rotation, while using and growing the knowledge gained from previous rotations.”
This second rotation has done exactly that, I have leveraged my ability to do marketing research and analysis, and the rotation has really been fantastic because I have been able to interact and learn from our outstanding sales force, who have not hesitated to aid my project.
Q: What opportunities do you foresee coming from this program?
A: The knowledge gained from the program is very applicable to many different roles throughout Bayer. I look forward to furthering my knowledge and development within each rotation and adding value as much as possible. Prior to graduate school, I was in politics, partisan politics, and there were mornings that I dreaded going to work. Now, I wake up for work and am excited to take on the day.
Q: What do you like about Bayer CropScience as a company?
The overall winning attitude and collaborative environment has been great. I also greatly appreciate the work-life balance and thoughtfulness of such a large corporation for its employees. It has been great to come out of graduate school to encounter such a great working environment and colleagues.
Q: What would you recommend to future program participants?
A: Take every opportunity to learn and, when appropriate, do not be afraid to speak up with a thoughtful comment. Also, be sure to take advantage of the knowledge in the company and learn from your colleagues.
Q: What has been the most impactful lesson that you’ve learned thus far from the program?
A: Complex industries such as ag chemicals still follow the general principles of business, and it is not a requirement to have extensive knowledge of everything in order to be impactful and add to the successes of the company.
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