Why Do I Work At Monsanto?

January 26, 2010

Some days, I ask myself that question.  And it’s not always in a “this is a great place to work!” kind of way.

Don’t get me wrong…I wholeheartedly agree with Fortune’s ranking of Monsanto as one of its “100 Best Companies to Work For.”The competitive salary, excellent benefits, career opportunities, flexible work hours, professional development opportunities, work culture, etc. are all an important part of the package. In the five years I’ve been with Monsanto, I’ve gotten married and had my first child. Becoming a working mom is a hard choice, but it was made easier knowing that my boss supported and understood my desire to be able to attend doctor’s appointments, cut back on my travel and work a more structured schedule.

Beyond that though, I feel very lucky to have found myself working in agriculture. I’m a couple of generations removed from the farm, and without my work at Monsanto, I’d be woefully unaware of the immense contributions of the world’s farmers toward the quality of my life. Monsanto has been my link to these farmers, and I’m proud to work at a company whose mission is to make a difference in agriculture.

But Monsanto isn’t all roses. It’s tough to love the place you work, and know that there are so many who despise your company. Monsanto is aware of the challenges to its image. Our employees are aware. My particular role in social media puts me up close and personal with it every day. Yes, I do read what people are saying about us. Much of what is said is based on misinformation, but some of it is just a fundamental difference in opinion. A lot of it is vicious.

Why then do I wake up every morning, drag myself out of bed and drop my precious son off at daycare to deal with this? Wouldn’t it just be easier to work at one of Fortune’s other 99 Best Companies? These are questions that I sometime ask myself.

I was reminded why I love working here yesterday when I walked into an all-day training session and met John Purcell. John has been at Monsanto since the late ’80s and is currently leading the Technology Development organization in our vegetable business.

At the beginning of the session, the trainer asked us to turn to our neighbor and introduce ourselves. What immediately struck me about John is that he smiles the entire time he talks. His passion, energy and enthusiasm for Monsanto, for science and for agriculture is palpable.

In talking with John, I realized what keeps me here and why I can’t imagine leaving—the people. I’ve met hundreds of people in the form of John over my time at Monsanto, but each with their own unique perspective and background. People who are bright, talented, driven, and most importantly, incredibly motivated by their work and passionate about agriculture.

You can’t measure what the value is in working with the caliber and quality of people you find at Monsanto. It’s what Fortune can’t capture in its survey.

13 Responses to “Why Do I Work At Monsanto?”

  1. Andrew Says:

    I saw that article in Fortune and the interview with Hugh Grant. While there are some issues I have with Monsanto, I think they are overall a good company. They do provide a needed service to the world.

  2. Santanu Says:

    I am a scientist and it hurts me everyday when I hear those baseless, non scientific allegations.
    As I am aware of the best quality science, commitment to the farmers, best stewardship we are involved, it hurts much more. As you rightly said we have many Johns (John is great!) around us which helps us to keep ourselves motivated and keep going for the cause of our future generation with Agriculture as the sole focus. But probably now time had come when each of us think more deeply to figure out what is that one thing we all should to do to turn it around. As I travel and meet different stakeholders I see many faces looking at me for solutions all the of challenges Agriculture faces and they feel Monsanto and only Monsanto can. And I feel proud again I work for Monsanto and I feel more responsibility. I can not wait for a day though, when most of your “miss-informed” friends understand this and extend thier hands too to work with us in their own capacity.
    Let us continue to make a difference to the Agriculture, help to produce more,conserve more and improve farmer’s lives.
    best regards

  3. MrBrownThumb Says:

    I’ve often wondered what it would be like to work for a company like Monsanto that people have strong opinions about. I’ve met a couple of people who work for the IRS and they say they rarely tell strangers what they do for a living because they just don’t want to deal with the reactions.

    Do you tell people IRL that you work for Monsanto and do most people ask, “who?” I imagine with all the press you all have gotten lately that more people are aware of the company who normally wouldn’t have been.

    • Joe Canson Says:

      Would you walk up to someone and introduce yourself as Satan? Probably not. So I would assume people from Monsanto don’t go around announcing that they work there unless in the company of other Monsanto workers. That is what this blog is for. It enables all these people to talk to their fellow Monsanto employees without seeing the shocked faces of people when they realize what a bunch of ******** you all are. Nice work guys. Just keep talking to yourselves if it helps you heal the wounds.

    • Ewan Ross Says:

      I’m completely open with anyone I talk to about who I work for, what I do (as far as I can be… pesky confidentiality and all that…), and what I work towards.

      Most people I’ve spoken to assume that Monsanto are a chemical company – and at least in St Louis, I havent really noticed that much animosity yet. Perhaps it’s just that the people I mix with aren’t delusionally judgemental enough to assume that Monsanto employees are “satan” – this is talking from everyone from doctors, video game physics engine designers through to steel workers and contractors – in general it would appear that the really venomous opponents of monsanto are a tiny minority amidst a greater population of people who either don’t quite know what we do (but know we’re a great place to work – one of the things I hear most often) or who are surprised to hear the extent of what we do.

  4. Clifford Gibson Says:

    When I first decided to hire on with Monsanto it was for reasons of working for a major player in the business world. I looked at benefits, advancement opportunities, and the status of working for a business giant. Most of my reasons were selfish in nature and somewhat arrogant.

    After meeting many of my new corporate family members, to include the executive team, I changed many of my preconceived notions of Monsanto. I met men and women dedicated to more than just an opportunity. I met people linked to a mission, a hope, a purpose; a purpose of feeding the world.

    These fellow employees of Monsanto represented moms, dads, grandfathers, grandmothers, and young adults from a very diverse background of culture, education, and race. The world is well represented here at Monsanto and for that I am proud.

    The corporate environment here at Monsanto is safe and progressive. For the first time in my employment history I have witnessed a company that endears family values, inspires personal growth, and makes products for more than the bottom line.

    Why do I work for Monsanto? I work for Monsanto because they have vision. Not just for me or you but for the world at large. Ask me why Monsanto is a great company and I’ll tell you with pride. Pride because I work for the number one company doing something about hunger before it becomes a problem. We all need air to breathe, water to drink, and food to eat. Listen to Mr. Grant’s apple speech sometime and you’ll know why you work for Monsanto too.

  5. Mike Says:


    I too am amazed (and wary) of the shrill vicious half-truths that some small groups of small people try to force on the rest of the world’s society about Monsanto and genetically-modified seed and the food products resulting from harvesting those crops.

    I respect other’s opinions, until they are clearly untrue, and until they have an intent to hurt me or the people that help feed my family and friends. Rest assured, the anti-GM people are not in the majority, and they never (at least to my knowledge) have scientific data nor true statistical methods to back up their claims. The internet makes them even more vicious, because they can hide their identity. Unfortunately, some of them are funded by our competitors and some (the wealthy ones) are in high government positions throughout the world. Most of them have never worked a day, much less a career, on a real farm.

    We are all entitled to our opinions, and if someone could show me hard, statistically significant data showing any detrimental effect on humanity due to a particular product (including but not limited to bT seeds), I (and Monsanto) would join them in their opinions (which would then be facts) and cease using the specific product. Until then, I wish those people would just tone down the rhetoric and be willing to reason.

    I have many friends that only eat organic food. They do not think Monsanto is evil, but they do develop alot of their opinions based on what they read on the internet. We still remain friends, regardless.

  6. Jeff Says:

    I started working with John when I arrived here 13 years ago. He has always been this way and I agree, people like John – and there are lots of them – are what makes this a great place to work.

  7. Ramon Says:

    I joined Monsanto about 2 years ago and was shocked to learn that the company is working on the “drought tolerant corn.” I can still remember the time (ICI took over Garst Seeds) when i asked as a lowly employee of a small station in Hawaii the visiting management of any prospect on drought tolerant corn project. I knew then and still believe now that the “drought tolerant corn” would be one of the best projects a Seed company would undertake. Syngenta is a good company, but Monsanto is the best company.

  8. Mica Says:

    Thanks for all the great responses! And it’s nice to see that I am not the only one who enjoys working with John!

    To answer your question Mr. Brown Thumb…yes, for the most part, I get mostly blank or quizzical looks when I say I work for Monsanto if I’m in a non-ag setting. Not many people are aware of us, or of agriculture, for that matter.

    • MrBrownThumb Says:

      No problem. Thanks for answering. How about a vblog about working at Monsanto? Because I’ve got a wild imagination and I’m picturing the office to look like something from Gattaca starring Ethan Hawke & Uma Therman.


    • Dan (monsanto employee) Says:

      I wish. On the St. Louis campus where I work, most of the facilities look pretty typical for office buildings or labs. Most of the decorating follows a ‘natural’ aesthetic (i.e. pictures of fields and plants – it’s an agricultural company after all) which, although nice, is a far cry from the surreal, art-deco vibes of a film like Gattaca. It’s also not nearly as quiet.

      Another thing to point out is that the ‘office’ perspective is just one of many. For other people a typical day is spent out in a field analysing plants or traveling to career fairs to do recruiting, etc.

  9. E Says:

    I was just hired as a contractor for Monsanto and I start on February 15. I should work there about a year and then will be hired full time – if I do well.

    I feel extremely lucky to have found such a job. The pay starting out is fair. The place I will work is close to home. I have looked at the benefits package once I become a regular employee and it is awesome!

    I have researched the company. It sounds like it is fantastic. I am allergic to soy protein isolate and working for a company that does GM doesn’t frighten me at all.

    I have been stuck in the IT contracting world for over 4 years now – unable to find a real job, with real benefits…nowadays, so many IT firms want to just hire contractors, and flush them at will for no reason.

    I have held 4 contracting jobs, with 2 layoffs, in the past 13 months. I am so lucky to have found a company willing to take me on as a regular employee.

    I am a single mom and this whole process of staying a contractor is hard – no paid vacation, no paid holidays, no sick leave, no personal time off – no nothing.

    I am so lucky.

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