Vision for the Future

Sanderson Farms Corporate Mentoring Program Graduates Ninth Class of Future Leaders and Launches 10th Edition of Program

Sanderson Farms 2020: Vision for our Future mentoring program, which increases the value of the company by cultivating managers and identifying future leaders, graduated its ninth class of participants in December. Sanderson Farms recognizes that cultivating future managers and identifying future leaders of the company is as important to maximizing shareholder value as the growth of the company. After eight successful poultry complex start-ups, the company understands that developing and preparing new people to lead is required to stimulate and enable the type of strategic growth that has become synonymous with the company name Sanderson Farms.

“High performance is the admission price for future growth and development,” said Lampkin Butts, president and chief operating officer for Sanderson Farms and mentor of four previous graduates of the company’s corporate mentoring program. “We want to find and develop the next generation of leaders for our company so that Sanderson Farms will continue to operate at the top of our industry.”

Key benefits of the corporate mentoring program include strengthening our talent pool by helping managers identify potential skills and competency gaps, as well as facilitating genuine development of employees, both for their own benefit and that of the organization. After identifying an employee with high potential, the company helps train and support that individual in a way that also moves their career forward.

Research demonstrates that mentoring programs not only positively impact company diversity, but they also improve retention of minorities and women in the workplace. A study conducted by Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations found that mentoring programs boosted minority representation at the management level by 9% to 24%. The same study found that mentoring programs dramatically improved promotion and retention rates by 15% to 38% for minorities and women when compared to non-mentored employees.

At Sanderson Farms, the positive impact of mentoring is evident as past graduates of our mentoring programs now hold leadership positions on the company’s executive committee, as well as serving in upper-level management appointments such as division managers, corporate department managers and other senior leaders of the company. By promoting an ongoing and proactive dialogue between managers and senior executives that identifies and tracks individual talents in key positions, Sanderson Farms is equipped to position key contributors on a growth path where they can be most valuable to the company.

“Mentoring programs are proven to improve employee development within a company and reduce turnover,” said Hilary Burroughs, director of marketing for Sanderson Farms and a three-time mentor in the company’s corporate mentoring program. “Identifying employees who show leadership and the skill sets necessary to advance within the company followed by a formal mentoring program will help ensure Sanderson Farms maintains confident leaders to keep us moving forward in a positive manner with purpose and promise.”

Mentoring programs have not only shown a positive impact on organizations as a whole, they are proven to benefit individual participants by accelerating their career trajectories. A five-year study of 1,000 employees conducted by Gartner, a research and advisory firm, and Capital Analytics, a software and services company, found that mentors participating in a mentoring program were promoted six times more often than those not in the program, while mentees were promoted five times more often than those not in the program.

With over 300 successful graduates from Sanderson Farms’ two salaried mentoring programs, leaders sought similar development opportunities for hourly team members, which represent over 88% of the company’s workforce. Earlier this year, the company launched a pilot hourly mentoring program in Collins, Mississippi titled “In the Lead,” which is slated to conclude in October and be evaluated for inclusion in ongoing employee mentoring initiatives.

The comprehensive program matches hourly employees with strategic members of the company’s division management team for guidance and development. Throughout the 10-month program, participants will receive training on the importance of diversity and inclusion, health and wellness, and technology, while gaining instruction on how to advance their leadership skills, understand their personal finances and develop professional communication skills.

“Being in the mentoring program reinforced what I already knew, this company values its employees and invests in our personal growth and development,” said Romika Wells, director of organization development and training for Sanderson Farms and a 2021 graduate of the company’s salaried, corporate mentoring program. “The mentoring program is so very important at Sanderson Farms, and vital to our continued success as a company. It prepares future leaders to run this company, and I am thankful I was chosen to be part of such an amazing program.”

Sanderson Farms 2020: Vision for Our Future mentoring program kicked off its 10th class of participants in February with a luncheon, where 17 new mentees and their mentors met and discussed personalized goals and learning objectives. After the luncheon, Lampkin Butts, president and chief operating officer; Mike Cockrell, treasurer, chief financial officer and chief legal officer; and Edward Chisholm, director of operations, led a panel discussion to share “the Sanderson way” with program participants.

The corporate mentoring program has a formal mentoring structure connected to a strategic business objective. Through established goals and learning objectives, measurable outcomes, strategic pairing of mentors and mentees, 12-month-long mentoring engagements, and expert training and support, Sanderson Farms will gain direct organizational benefits as a result of this mentoring program.

“Our goal is to have the next generation of leaders prepared to lead Sanderson Farms in a way that our company will continue to grow, thrive and be a leader in our industry,” continued Butts. “I am proud of our mentoring programs, and I congratulate the mentees who recently completed the 2021 corporate mentoring program and those who are just now beginning their journey in the 2022 program.”

New mentee and mentor pairs for 2022 include mentee, Jaquilyn King, and mentor, Heath Parker; mentee, Jasen Fairley, and mentor, Doug McLoud; mentee, Adam Gill, and mentor, Lee Southwell; mentee, Arvin Mendoza, and mentor, Ashley Van Natta; mentee, JoAnna Sanford, and mentor, Wes Hall; mentee, Brittany Kerr, and mentor, Deleica Clayton; mentee, Kathy Byrd, and mentor, Alicia Walker; mentee, Becca McAlpin, and mentor, La Marcus Smith; mentee, Kimberly White, and mentor, Jim Myers; mentee, Frank Marshall, and mentor, Stephen Selman; mentee, David Futral, and mentor, Jeff Black; mentee, Jerry Brooks, and mentor, Ross Harbison; mentee, Missy Pearce, and mentor, Brandon Macloud; mentee, Steve Bonasia, and mentor, Stephanie Shoemaker; mentee, Ian Bergin, and mentor, Shaunta McDowell; mentee, Brock Morris, and mentor Delton Pounds; and mentee, Chad Carmichael, and mentor, Kimberly Jefferson.