Women in Agriculture: Kimberly Jefferson
As Laboratory Quality Manager, Kimberly Jefferson is heavily committed to Sanderson Farms’ effort to provide safe and wholesome chicken products. Jefferson came to the company six years ago, but until she sent her resume, she never imagined there would be a role that fit her expertise at Sanderson Farms.
“I knew I wanted a science-based career to go along with my degree program,” said Jefferson. “But I had no clue that I would end up in agriculture.”
Jefferson graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in biochemistry, which she followed with a master’s degree in environmental engineering from the University of Florida. Before starting as a technical services trainee at Sanderson Farms, Jefferson worked in a variety of labs across multiple industries.
In her current role of Laboratory Quality Manager, Jefferson is responsible for building and maintaining a quality system with the lab to ensure that operations meet the requirement for accreditation. She also works to gather and analyze all live production, feed, and microbiology data in hopes that it can be used to monitor and improve operations.
“While I identify as a poultry industry professional, even more than that, I’m a consumer,” said Jefferson. “It’s exciting to work for the nation’s third largest poultry producer, and to have first-hand knowledge of the quality product we produce. I like being able to pick up Sanderson Farms chicken and know that my family is getting something good.”
As a wife and mother to six small children, Jefferson says that being part of the food safety initiative is the most rewarding part of her job. To respond to the everchanging dynamics of food safety, Jefferson and her team members are consistently adapting to the latest laboratory testing technologies and methodologies.
“Sanderson Farms strives to go above and beyond,” said Jefferson. “Our CEO makes it clear that he doesn’t want to just meet the standard; he wants to exceed expectations. I also have a great boss, and she gives me the freedom to be innovative.”
Across the industry, Sanderson Farms is known for its diverse hiring practices and the number of women in its leadership positions. Jefferson says that she has always felt that her work performance is what matters most.
“At this company particularly, your success depends upon your work ethic and your merit,” said Jefferson. “In my experience, as women, we are driven and good at multi-tasking. Everyone has their place at Sanderson Farms, and we all fit together and work as a team.”
Her recommendation to anyone interested in or beginning a career in agriculture?
“Always have a learning posture, because technology is constantly advancing across the industry,” said Jefferson. “My advice would be to keep Christ first and continuously learn and improve.”