Christopher Padfield  -  Post Formal Education - nurturing and growing talent?

I live on work on a 4th generation family farm on the Gloucestershire / Worcestershire border.  It is a mixed farm consisting of a Beef fattening joint venture and growing combinable crops.  We have been direct drilling all crops including maize for the last decade.  The farm is entered into an HLS scheme which is central to our focus on creating wildlife habitat around the enterprise. We also run some stubble to stubble contracting.

After working abroad in Ghana, Guinea Bissau and France, I worked for a local agricultural college mainly assessing NVQ qualifications.  I also achieved qualifications in Internal and External Verification and a PGCE (adult education).  I then set up a small training company where we offer training services, mainly LANTRA and City and Guilds qualifications, aimed at the land-based skills sector.

When not working, I love riding motorbikes and drinking whisky.  Not a great combination though a recent biking trip to Islay managed to get the best of both worlds.

I would like to thank all those supporting my Nuffield Scholarship, not least the Central Region Farmers Trust for their sponsorship, and my wife and parents for their support and backing.


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Interview with Randy Lewis - If no one has done it before th

nterview with Randy Lewis - it's not about me, it's about us. Cling to your principles. They will encourage you to do the right thing. 2nd July 2015

Posted by Christopher Padfield on September 5, 2015

Appears in Business, Technology

Interview with Randy Lewis - it's not about me, it's about us. Cling to your principles. They will encourage you to do the right thing. 2nd July 2015

If no one has done it before then it is an opportunity not a stop sign

I heard Randy Lewis being interviewed on a radio programme in the UK and found it really inspiring so I made contact with him and was delighted that he agreed to meet me at his home in Gary (on the lake outside Chicago).  Randy was senior Vice President of Walgreens, overseeing the supply chain development as the company grew from 1500 to 8000 stores and is currently on the board of Wendy's.


 However it was his work with encourging those with disabilities to be actively recruited into the distribution centres run by Walgreens and be accepted on the same pay, conditions and work standards as everyone else that he is most widely recognised. Indeed at the two most modern distribution centres at Hartford and Anderson between 40 and 50% of the workforce is made up of people with disabilites and the company has a target of 10% of new hires in the entry level positions across the entire comany including all of the stores. Coming from a small family farm myself, there is a world of diffence in the experience between growing a few crops and changing the work culture of a Fortune 50 company.  However there are some essential principles which can be used in any company. Obviously the focus of the company has to be to make a profit with a responsibility to the shareholders but it should be more than this and remember that the work impacts employees and the community at large.

 People are motivated by money, mission and meaning in that order. Mission gives the sense of acheivement but it doesn't tell us why we do it (climbing a mountain is the mission, but why did we climb?).  Farming is possibly an easy sell - growing food to feed others a clear imperative.  However can we go further and aim to do good, enhance the environment, engage more with the community, develop young people?  Perhaps I was impressed with the relentless desire to make the work output better - 'when people say best practice, think best practice so far' - but also a more inclusive and better workplace at the same time.   When I asked how to drive change in a business he replied that it has to be driven from the top and if the top needs to be changed then do so.  When I was asked what makes a good boss for me, I flanneled a bit and muttered something about being able to buy into his vision.  Randy replied it was all about trust, trust in your staff and that they trust you even when things are tough.  When it comes to making the workplace a better place, surely an inclusive model where all are treated equally should be aimed for,  and as for the numbers, the centers with high levels of disablities within the workforce have 50% better retention of staff and 50% fewer sick days than those that do not.  That has to stack up.

Points to ponder:

Our businesses might be successful but are they doing good.  Are they making the employees, workplace and community a better place and adding value to peoples' lives?

When farmers and pack houses need staff, are we in danger of overlooking certain sections of the workforce as we direct our gaze to Eastern Europe and beyond?



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