Meet the TELUS Agriculture team members who are helping our customers create a more sustainable food future. Mike Dittrich, director of business development for animal health, has worked with TELUS since 2006.
He lives in Vancouver, which he proudly says is a gorgeous place to work, live and visit. When he’s not developing TELUS Agriculture’s animal health business and teams, he enjoys hiking, kayaking and soaking in the city’s ocean and mountain vistas.
What is your role at TELUS Agriculture?
It’s still kind of surreal, but I am employee number one at TELUS Agriculture.
In 2015, I went back to finish my MBA. For my capstone project I was working at TELUS, so I wanted to draw on that experience, but still, I wanted to do something outside my comfort zone. The topic I chose was: how can TELUS do more to support the ag industry?
TELUS was already supporting the agriculture industry from a telecommunications perspective, of course. However, we recognized an opportunity for us to do more to support this foundational industry more directly, similar to how we support healthcare. Three colleagues and I put in a solid 1,000 hours of work, researching and outlining a recommendation. That work directly led to the birth of TELUS Agriculture.
Chris Terris (now vice president of global strategy and animal health) joined as employee number two shortly thereafter. It’s very rewarding to see how much of what we are doing today is what we had outlined in that capstone project.
Currently, as the director of business development for Animal Health, I am focused on developing this exciting vertical. About 40% of the world’s food system is protein. Most of it is traditional, such as beef, dairy, swine, poultry and seafood, but alternative proteins also play a key role. TELUS Agriculture intends to be a significant player in animal agriculture and protein delivery. We are now building out the team and the strategic roadmap that will get us there.
What drew you to this business? Like I said, I wanted to do something involving a lot of learning. I came into this not knowing agribusiness or the food industry. The idea of learning and investing in something new and exciting gave me a sense of ownership. I felt a sense of responsibility to help bring our recommendations to life.
What inspires you to come to work every day? I’m inspired by the idea of building out our dream and vision. It’s very rare and fulfilling: I get to live out what I researched and had a hand in creating. It feels very entrepreneurial. I also feel a sense of legacy, knowing that years from now I’ll look back, see how phenomenally successful we are and think, wow, that’s pretty cool. Also, I’m a big proponent of team member development. Helping create the next generation of talent for this company is immensely fulfilling.
What career advice would you offer others? First, I’d note that paths are very personal. One size does not fit all. But in general, I’d say, “Get out there and take some chances.” At TELUS, there’s a strong culture of helping you get where you want to go. If there’s something that interests you, let others know. You’ll be surprised what good could come of it. The worst thing you can do is keep a dream to yourself.
What do you want people to know about TELUS Agriculture?
First and foremost, we are taking on the challenge of our generation, providing safer, more sustainable food for our planet. I know it sounds a bit grandiose, but it’s real. This is not simply, “Let’s do something cool in ag.” We have a responsibility. We are going to apply our capabilities, our competencies and our resources to feed the world in a responsible way.
Since we’re on the topic of food, do you have a favourite dish? If I had to choose, I’d go with a combination – a good surf and turf, maybe some jumbo prawns and a good T-bone steak, bone-in, medium rare. Now I’m hungry!