Growing up in agriculture, Chad Martin dreamed about going to Texas A&M University. Taking advice from his hometown veterinarian, it was clear to him at a young age that a degree in animal science was the path to take. However, Chad recalls, “It was not clear how much that education and the life skills acquired during this time would affect me in my future career.”
Chad received a bachelor’s degree in animal science in 1996. His first job was in the meat packing industry as a quality assurance inspector for Iowa Beef Processors (now Tyson Fresh Meats) in Dakota City, S.D. This job laid the foundation for his professional growth as it led Chad to numerous positions and steps up the career ladder. Since 1996, Chad has served Tyson Fresh Meats as a food safety and quality assurance (FSQA) supervisor in Garden City, Kan; worked for a short time for Capitol Land and Livestock; returned to Tyson and worked as an assistant manager in Dakota Dunes; quality assurance manager in Brooks, Alberta; quality assurance manager in Dakota City; corporate regional manager, division manager and senior director of FSQA Beef.
In 2012, Chad was promoted to vice president of FSQA for Tyson Fresh Meats, the world’s leading supplier of premium beef and pork. In this position, Chad is responsible for plant and product matters related to food safety, regulations and quality for the beef and pork divisions.
Here’s what Chad had to say about Texas A&M and his current success:
In what ways did your degree in animal science contribute to your career?
Earning a degree in animal science gave me a broad exposure to many facets of the industry. These are items that I would not have had the opportunity to experience once in the workplace. For instance, having a knowledge base pertaining to beef cattle feeding practices would not necessarily seem useful in food safety and quality assurance of red meat. Truth be told, having that understanding allows for practical science-based decision making pertaining to live animal production claims. There were several classes that I wondered if I would ever use in the “real world,” now I cannot name one course associated with this major that has not been useful in one way or another (even statistics).
If you could go back to Texas A&M and do one thing different that would have enhanced your professional career, what would it be?
As I have worked my way into upper management, I have been able to see first-hand what internships are worth for both the individual and the company. Internships provide a great opportunity to “test drive” a segment of the industry and then determine if it is a fit for you. They also are a great resume builder for post-graduation. I did not participate in any internship programs as a student. I now see the value to student and company and wish that I had interned, as an internship can be a real jump-start to a career.
What advice can you offer current animal science students who are preparing to enter the work force?
Do not set your eyes on a large starting salary with company cars and expense accounts. Focus on getting into industry and showing that company who you are and what you can do. Do not be afraid to relocate, even if it is not in Texas. One of my early managers told me that this industry is starved for young, energetic, college educated people who are willing to take on responsibility and relocate. He was right and that is professional advice that I treasure to this day. Do not be afraid to roll up your sleeves and get the job done. Focus on a career path, but not a final career point.
In each of my positions, I learned a very valuable lesson or skill. I learned the foundation of beef slaughter and processing. I learned to manage people and ensure the safety of our products. I gained an understanding of beef programs including source verification and traceability through RFID. I learned the business and developed skills at multiple plants.
These moves and skills acquired accentuated what I learned at Texas A&M. You must develop a network of colleagues (in addition to the strong Aggie network that will always be there) in your industry. You must foster those relationships and give 100 percent each and every day. You must challenge yourself and challenge those around you. You must work with integrity to make sure others desire to work with you.
I treasure many things in life – my kids, Chase and Logan, my wife Suann, the friendships I have made, a supportive family and my time at Texas A&M. I have been truly blessed.
For more information regarding news from the Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Texas A&M University, please contact Courtney Coufal at firstname.lastname@example.org or (979) 845-1542.