Meet the team members who are helping TELUS Agriculture customers create a more sustainable food future. Today we profile Diana Henderson, EVP of Business Development and Client Services at TKXS, based in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Diana shares the most effective career advice she’s received, her career philosophy, and why she believes in TELUS Agriculture’s vision of achieving better food outcomes.
Tell us about yourself.
I joined Technekes in 2006, well before we merged with XSInc to become TKXS. At the time, we had 15 full-time employees. We were so small that I could make holiday cookies (not very good ones, I’m afraid) for our entire company. And now we're part of TELUS Agriculture with over 1,200 employees in 50 different countries. Now, when I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with family (but not baking!) and running a Charlotte church ministry with my husband.
What is your role at TELUS Agriculture?
Ultimately my job is to help feed the growing world population in creative ways. That involves caring for clients and teammates and removing roadblocks so they can do what they do best.
Describe a typical work day.
No two days are alike, but the essence is the same: helping internal and external partners reach their potential. Currently, that involves spending nine to 10 hours a day on conference calls, solving unique problems, motivating teams to collaborate, and casting our vision as a business and industry. Pre-pandemic, it involved spending a lot of time on planes, trains and Ubers, and visiting and strategizing with clients. I miss those in-person meetings and look forward to getting back to it.
What was your path to working in agriculture and food?
I was introduced to the ag industry by my first customer, a large input manufacturer. It was intimidating, as I hadn’t grown up farming. Since I didn't know the industry, I volunteered as a “hand” at the fifth largest farm in North Carolina. I learned a ton and more importantly, developed a love and respect for the industry and customers we get to serve.
What prepared you for your role?
I was a sponge. I consumed every media publication and ag training I could get my hands on. I also completed Purdue University's Strategic Agri-Marketing program (well-recognized for agri-marketers) as well as formal training and higher education in leadership. The best training, though, has been on the job, serving and caring for colleagues and customers for over 15 years.
What's the best career advice you received?
The most memorable advice was "don't screw it up," and the most effective was "be resourceful." Both helped me understand that as one person, I can’t master everything. I’ve learned to rely on the strength and expertise of others. As they say, all boats rise with the tide: the more we contribute our strengths, the more our teammates and companies will benefit.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about agriculture and food?
People outside of the industry once thought that food comes from grocery stores, not recognizing the important role of farmers. While consumers may now be more knowledgeable, I still enjoy discussing conventional farming vs. organic and how to feed a growing population with decreasing landmass. I'm passionate about our industry and embrace any opportunity to replace agriculture misconceptions with agriculture reality.
What's a common customer question and how do you respond?
Many customers want to create and control their own destinies. I respond with, “Terrific. I can help you get there.” Seriously, that's where TELUS Agriculture shines. We can empower, augment, accommodate and fuel customer strategies in ways never before possible.
What are you most excited about as being part of TELUS Agriculture? The vision. In the absence of vision, people perish. I fully buy into the vision of “achieving better food outcomes.'' It’s big, it’s inspiring and what's more, TELUS Agriculture has achievable strategies to get there. TKXS had a similar vision. However, landing on the moon in a two-seater, single-engine plane is far more challenging than hopping in the rocket ship that is TELUS Agriculture. We have the spacecraft, technology and talent. We will be unstoppable.
What's something you've done you would never do again?
I interned with a TV station thinking I wanted to be a reporter or anchor (I’ve always loved storytelling). But negative spinning didn't align with my values. I'll stick to feeding the world.
What's your favorite food or recipe?
Anything savory. I save the sweets (no baking, remember?) for my husband and kiddos.