CEO of Land O’ Lakes shares “Leadership Playbook” with Iowa State Students


Beth Ford, Iowa State alumna and president and CEO of Land O’Lakes spoke about leadership being a team sport on Friday November 9 in the Stark lecture hall at 11 a.m. Ford told audiences about her leadership playbook saying “Learn outside what you are fundamentally invested in.”

Jared Coady

The Ivy College of Business and Collegiate Women in Business student organization hosted Beth Ford to speak about how “Leadership is a Team Sport” on Friday in the Gerdin Business Building.

After graduating from Iowa State in 86’ with a business degree, Ford went on to earn an MBA from Columbia University Business School. Ford would later be named to Fortune magazine’s 2018 Most Powerful Women in Business list, and become the first female CEO of Land O’ Lakes, one of the nation’s largest food and agricultural operatives.

Ford also remains involved with Iowa State, and has been serving on the Ivy College of Business Dean’s Advisory Council since 2003.

“It’s been exciting to watch Beth’s career grow and we are proud that she is our alumna,” said David Spalding, Ivy College of Business dean. “Beth has remained connected to the Ivy College of Business and has always been a loyal Cyclone.”

Ford spoke about tips she believes are most important to achieving success in the working world, a collection she calls her “Leadership Playbook.”

Some of the main points included in this “Leadership Playbook” are to find work that you believe in, and develop a natural curiosity. Ford emphasized the importance of not limiting yourself to your first job or your first industry.

“The first ten years of your career, please make yourself as broad as possible,” Ford said.

Ford spoke on was the always changing world, emphasizing that we should be able to keep up with change.

“Change is happening at warp speed,” Ford said. “You are going to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable with uncomfortable.”

Another piece of advice Ford gave to students was to be assertive with your company, and make sure they know your ambitions and what you want to accomplish.

“If you think (your company) is going to guess what you want to achieve, you’re wrong. If you want something, you ask for it,” Ford said. “There is no bad answer and you need to know that.”