“If a person is willing to relocate to an area of need, there is always opportunity,” says Nicole Paulsen, senior human resources supervisor for the Pipestone System. That is because the System is growing rapidly, and trained individuals necessary to staff that growth are in demand.
Nicole points to several 5,000-sow farms being built in South Dakota. “Each has a staff of about 15, and three of those are leadership positions,” says Nicole, herself a 7-year veteran of the System. These new barns will need people trained in their respective fields—farrowing leaders, gestation leaders, and site managers—to teach new employees the protocols of the System.
“We strive to promote people from within the System,” says Nicole, whose primary role is recruiting and staffing the farms. “But because we’re growing so fast, we know that we’re not going to be able to train and develop individuals from inside the System as fast as we need.” So Nicole travels to colleges and universities in a five-state area looking for people who have the knowledge, but who need hands-on experience to utilize what they’ve learned in their college classrooms.
The students she hires usually go through the System’s manager-in-training (MIT) program, which places them on the fast track to leadership as well as teaches them the System protocols they need to know. MITs work three months in farrowing and three months in gestation at a sow barn, and then they move to another barn, repeating the process. “By switching barns, the trainee is exposed to a different manager, leadership style, group of people, and potentially a different size of facility,” says Nicole.
“Pig skills can usually be taught easier with real-life experiences,” she continues. “Real- life experiences cannot be taught in the classroom—that’s why we depend on our MIT program to help mold the future leaders of our System.
The MIT is in the driver’s seat to their career, they control the pace of their training. As previously noted we strive to promote from within, as positions open we post them internally and encourage MIT’s and other individuals from within the System to apply. Each candidate goes through an interview process. Production Managers and myself are able to learn about the individuals and what key strengths they bring to the table and ultimately who can make the farm a success,” she explains, adding that non-leadership positions like swine technicians and filter compliance technicians are also available.
The jobs coming open are not all in Pipestone System’s expansion areas, notes Nicole. “A current gestation leader may want to advance to a management position which would create a gestation lead position at their farm,” she explains.
College graduates find working for the Pipestone System attractive for reasons that are both tangible and intangible. Besides paying its employees competitively, the system provides health, life, and long-term disability insurance, and offers one of the top 401k programs in the area. That’s the tangible. Intangible benefits include an atmosphere where team members become like family—getting to know relatives, celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, and finding any good reason, like reaching a production goal, to throw a potluck or bring donuts. “It’s a unique farm culture that makes everyone feel part of our System,” says Nicole.
Everyone on the team is encouraged to grow, and a variety of system-wide meetings for farrowing leads, gestation leads, and managers allow opportunities for employees from different farms to share ideas and engage in a little friendly competition.
Besides recruiting at the college level and promoting from within, the only way we know who might have what it takes to be a leader in the Pipestone System is if they ask. We post all positions on our website www.pipestonesystem.com or on www.pigcareers.com. “If you have questions about a position or if you are interested in a career with a growing company, please contact me directly,” says Nicole.
Nicole Paulsen’s Contact Information:
EMP SERV, LLC.
P.O. Box 370
Pipestone, MN 56164