Mike Williams: Managing a Hundred Details, Often All at Once

January 27, 2010

Mike Williams in another Monsanto employee who works to support customers like Dave Morris. Dave is a farmer/dealer in southeastern Minnesota, and his operations are supported by a network of Monsanto people.

Mike sits in an office building in suburban St. Louis, about 350 miles from the Morris farm. But what he does, often daily, is critical.

Mike is a Commercial Operations Specialist for Monsanto, and his geographic responsibility covers 122 seed dealers in eastern Minnesota. He’s on the phone or on email daily with dealers, sometimes several times a day with the same people.

“Every day is completely different,” he says. “If one of my seed dealers has an issue or a problem or a concern, then I work it. But it’s not only a reactive job; there’s considerable outreach to let dealers know what’s available, what can be shipped, and what’s needed by other dealers in different locations.” He had just talked with Dave Morris on the phone about corn seed varieties Morris was looking for.

Mike is originally from the St. Louis area, and came to Monsanto’s agriculture business in an unusual way. He worked as a team leader at the Daimler Chrysler manufacturing facility in suburban St. Louis, and it was his troubleshooting skills than eventually connected him with Monsanto.

So what does a Commercial Operations Specialist like Mike handle? The answer is “yes:” Packaging changes, credits and debits on accounts, seed transfers between dealers, finding seed varieties, confirmation of corn and soybean seed deliveries, setting up new accounts, tracking where shipments are, and anything else that a seed dealer needs to have done to stay successful.

Next spring and early summer, Mike plans to visit several of his customers. “Ideally, an operations specialist wants to see his customers face-to-face at least once year, and you want to do that where they have their operations,” he says. “Seeing it first-hand makes a huge difference, and you can understand what they do and need on a daily basis.”

Then the phone rings, and three more emails arrive. “Gotta go,” he says.

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