NAMA has named Jeff Simmons, President, Elanco Animal Health, as the 2011 Agribusiness Leader of the Year. This award, which is NAMA’s highest honor, will be presented at the Opening General Session of the 2011 Agri-Marketing Conference, “Harvesting Ideas,” April 14, 2011, in Kansas City, Missouri. The award honors outstanding leaders in agribusiness, education, government service or other agribusiness related areas who exemplify excellence in agribusiness by their significant contributions to the industry.
Jeff Simmons is a dynamic, young, visionary leader that has positioned Elanco for significant innovation and growth. Located in Greenfield, Indiana, the global company is comprised of 2,300 employees with offices in more than 40 countries.
Jeff’s previous role of executive director, global research and development/global strategy, laid the foundation for the company’s transformation into the innovative, booming organization he’s been at the helm of since 2008. In the past six years, the company has obtained more product approvals in the United States than any other animal health company. In fact, the company is planning for six major product launches in the first four months of 2011 alone. This explosive innovation has propelled sales growth, rising from $995.8 million in 2007 to $1.35 billion in 2010. Th ecompany is on track to meet a global plan of doubling company size in five years. Already, Elanco has moved from number 8 to number 5 in the industry.
Raised on a dairy and grape farm in New York, Simmons intricately understands the lifestyle and business of agribusiness. In fact, Simmons says maintaining ownership of the 70-acre grape operation is part of what keeps him grounded and focused on what’s important.
While his business acumen has played an important role in Elanco’s growth, he is a highly motivational leader who has focused on engaging employees in the company’s vision of “Food and companionship enriching lives.” Jeff understands the most inspired, loyal employees feel they are a part of something bigger. Under his leadership, the company has focused on being part of the food production system, and the important role animal health and technology plays in that larger system. As such, fighting world hunger and pursuing technologies to provide a safe, affordable, abundant food supply, has become one of the company’s five social pillars. The company has committed to help end world hunger for 100,000 families through a partnership with Heifer International®.
Elanco’s first project with Heifer began in 2009, supporting animal gifts in the Lampung province of Indonesia. In total, the five-year project will provide 2,100 families with cattle, ducks, plants and trees. The 2010 project focused on the Copper Belt region of Zambia and will ultimately affect 6,210 families. In addition to the gifts of animals, Elanco and Heifer are working jointly to help establish local milk market outlets, improve production and conservation practices, train animal health workers and provide 2,000 energy stoves.
Elanco employees around the world have become particularly invested in the cause. In addition to the Elanco and Eli Lilly and Company Foundation, support of these projects, employees donated $91,863 (including a Lilly Foundation match for U.S. employees) to Heifer International from their own pockets in 2010, to total $167,315 in just two years of the partnership.
Aiding in local hunger efforts is also critical to the company. The company has committed to ending childhood hunger in Indianapolis by 2015. Jeff serves on the board of directors of Gleaners Food Bank in Central Indiana.
Elanco created partnerships with organizations such as FFA and 4-H to nurture skill, responsibility and growth. In 2009, Jeff served as the chairman of the Sponsor’s Board for the National FFA Foundation. Highlighting his belief in life-long learning, Jeff has been involved with FFA since his student days. He recognizes the extreme need to develop leaders and visionaries if our industry is to effectively and sustainably feed 9 billion people in just 4 decades.
Jeff also chaired the Animal Health Institute’s (AHI) board of directors in 2009-2010, and also serves on the board of the International Federation of Animal Health. He is a member and has been a featured speaker at Harvard University’s PAPSAC (Private & Public, Scientific, Academic, and Consumer Food Policy Council).
Jeff is the type of visionary, motivational young leader that will be responsible for driving agriculture forward and achieving solutions to some of the most pressing issues our world has ever faced. His passion for feeding the world is fueled by a boundless energy and belief that agribusiness is uniquely qualified to meet the challenge.