Living the Legacy
WELLS NAMED NEW DIRECTOR OF ORGANIZATION DEVELOPMENT AND TRAINING
As the daughter of two Sanderson Farms employees who collectively dedicated over 62 years of service to the company, newly appointed director of organization development and training, Romika Wells, has a unique perspective and appreciation for all of the hard work Sanderson Farms employees contribute to ensure the company’s long-term success. “My parents actually met in the Sanderson Farms breakroom in Laurel, Mississippi back in the early 1970s, so this company has been a part of my entire life,” said Wells. “I grew up hearing stories of how amazing this company was to work for.”
Wells’ mother, Earlie Mae Bridges, alone worked for the company for over 42 years as an hourly employee who was fortunate enough to have supervisors such as our current chairman of the board and chief executive officer, Joe F. Sanderson Jr., and current president and chief operating officer, Lampkin Butts, serve as mentors throughout her lengthy career with the company. “My mother always said she never felt like just an employee, she felt like family,” said Wells. “Now, I am happy that I have joined this same family with the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of generations of the Sanderson Farms family to come.”
Since joining the company in 2018, Wells has served as manager of training and an advanced trainee. She currently serves as chair of the company’s newly formed diversity and inclusion steering committee, which functions as a grassroots, action-oriented team whose goal is to act as champions for positive change. Wells also serves on the company’s executive committee, corporate compensation committee and the overarching diversity and inclusion committee which oversees the steering committee.
“Simply wishing for diversity and inclusion is not enough,” said Wells. “Sanderson Farms recognizes that supporting and maintaining diversity, equity and inclusion is not just the right thing to do, it is the right thing to do for our company. Our employees are our competitive advantage, they are what sets us apart from everyone else in our industry.”
With her promotion, Wells fills the role previously held by long-time director, Robin Robinson, who retired from the company in 2019 after over 40 years of service. Like Robinson, who was the first female to be named to the company’s Executive Committee over two decades ago, Wells continues the position’s legacy of making history by becoming the first African-American to be named to the company’s top leadership team.
“I always aspired to work for a company that cared about you as an individual, that made you feel like family,” said Wells. “Throughout my career, I have worked for several industries, and none made me feel more like family than Sanderson Farms. Here, people know your name, they know the names of your children, and they genuinely care.”
As director of organization development and training, Wells is responsible for managing the company’s employee recruiting, training and development functions. “If my work and life experiences have taught me anything, it’s that being a life-long learner is just as important as facilitating the learning,” said Wells. “My style of employee training and development is to listen to what employees need and fill that need. Our employees invest in the company on a daily basis, and we have an obligation to them. Through training and development, our employees are equipped with the skills they need to continue to be the best in the industry.”
While things certainly haven’t been business as usual since Wells assumed the top leadership role in employee recruiting, training and development, a pandemic like COVID-19 hasn’t slowed her down a bit. “Like the rest of the world, COVID-19 has changed how many people live their day-to-day lives,” said Wells. “For our department, the challenge we currently face and will face in the upcoming years is knowing what employee training and development looks like in the future. For so long, we knew what that looked like and now, we must be ready for the challenge of the unknown.”
A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Wells respectively earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in public relations and a Master of Educational Leadership degree. In 2011, she earned her law degree from the Mississippi College School of Law while completing multiple internships with organizations such as the Jackson Leadership Initiative Program and the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning.
Prior to joining Sanderson Farms, Wells most recently served as the managing attorney for Guster Law Firm in Birmingham, Alabama for six years and also served as adjunct faculty at Brown Mackie College for two years. It was during these roles that she was named Birmingham’s Young Lawyer on the Rise, as well as one of Birmingham Business Journal’s Rising Stars of Law. Wells is affiliated with the Alabama Bar Association and the Northern District of Alabama, United States District Court.
“In a short period of time, Romika has demonstrated that she is well prepared for the job at hand and is uniquely equipped with both the talent and passion necessary to identify, cultivate and empower future generations of leadership for this company,” said Lampkin Butts. “I have no doubts that she will continue making history throughout her tenure with Sanderson Farms, and I look forward to witnessing all that she is able to accomplish in her new role.”