September 20, 2023 – Executive recruitment firm Kincannon & Reed, which exclusively focuses on food, agribusiness, and the related life sciences, recently helped to fill two key leadership roles for AgReliant Genetics in Westfield, IN. Brian Barker is the new chief executive officer and president of the biotechnology research company, and David Pugh, who was hired a few weeks earlier, is chief financial officer and vice president of finance. Leading the assignment for the search firm were Jon Leafstedt, managing partner, and Crystal Strauss, director.
Mr. Barker has spent his entire career in the agriculture sector, holding increasingly senior roles both in the U.S. and abroad with leading global agribusinesses. Most recently, he was vice president, future ERP global leader at Corteva Agriscience, a publicly traded, global pure-play agriculture company. Mr. Pugh joins AgReliant from Elanco, a global leader in animal health, where he served as treasurer and vice president of finance strategy and risk management.
As AgReliant’s president and CEO, Mr. Barker is responsible for providing the vision, leadership, and expertise to drive profitable growth while overseeing the operations of the business. “Brian possesses a blend of character traits and a leadership style that fosters trust and inspires engagement,” said Mr. Leafstedt. “An excellent communicator across a wide range of audiences, Brian is not only a strategic and creative thinker but also a successful builder of high-performance teams.”
“Brian is the right leader for AgReliant’s future,” said Régis Fournier, chairman of AgReliant Genetics. “His exceptional track record, strategic acumen, and commitment to excellence make him the ideal choice to guide our company through the evolving landscape and drive us towards new levels of achievement.”
Mr. Barker began his career with the Dow Chemical Co. in a series of chemical business roles including market research, customer service, and sales. He later moved to the Dow Elanco agricultural joint venture, eventually becoming Dow AgroSciences, with successive roles in crop protection marketing, sales management, and global program management. In later years, he led the U.S. seeds business through significant operational improvements. In 2017, following the Dow/DuPont merger, eventually becoming Corteva Agriscience, he led restructuring of the newly merged U.S. seeds business, and Corteva’s combined retail brand, regional brand, and technology licensing businesses as vice president, multi-channel seeds business unit. Most recently, as VP, future ERP global business leader, he led Corteva’s new global SAP implementation as business liaison.
As vice president of finance and CFO, Mr. Pugh drives development of key, long-range strategies to help ensure that financial performance objectives are achieved. He is expected to advance the company’s financial position and build its information technology and data analytics capabilities. “David is a highly personable, innovative leader with strong financial management credentials,” said Ms. Strauss. “He brings a demonstrated track record success as an effective change agent and a history cross-functional collaboration with him to his new role.”
At Elanco, Mr. Pugh helped secure funding for the acquisition of Bayer Animal Health. Prior to that, he spent 24 years with Eli Lilly & Company where he held a number of positions in finance and information technology including director of global financial planning, CFO of Lilly Russia, and executive director of Lilly diabetes finance.
As the largest North American company focused solely on seed, AgReliant invests heavily in genetic innovation to deliver one-of-a-kind seeds with differential characteristics for plant health, harvestability, grain quality, and yield. Dedicated to delivering high quality, high performing hybrids, the organization offers a broad product portfolio of corn, soybeans, sorghum, and alfalfa. Founded in 2000, AgReliant is a 50-50 joint venture owned by two of the top five seed companies in the world: KWS (Einbeck, Germany) and Groupe Limagrain (Saint-Beauzire, France).
Founded in 1981, Kincannon & Reed serves clients throughout the world from locations in the Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. The firm is based in Arlington, VA. Kincannon & Reed’s mission is: “We recruit leaders for organizations that feed the world and keep it healthy.”
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Kincannon & Reed recently placed Brian McCarthy as vice president of human resources of organic mushroom grower Highline Mushrooms in Leamington, Ontario. The assignment was led by managing partners Janet Wightman and John Wright. With more than two decades of experience as an HR generalist, Mr. McCarthy has specialized in leading transformational HR change to scale for organizational success. He has held roles with organizations across a wide range of sectors including technology, food, healthcare, and transportation manufacturing. Most recently, Mr. McCarthy was responsible for all workforce activities for Canadian pork producer HyLife.
Mr. Leafstedt, managing partner, draws on his expertise in agriculture and biotechnology to help associations, cooperatives, and early-stage companies define their talent needs and recruit senior leadership. Passionate about connecting people with the right roles and organizations, he has led more than 200 searches in his tenure with Kincannon & Reed.
Ms. Strauss, who is based in Dallas, works on engagements at the board, C-suite, and VP level. Having spent the bulk of her career with boutique search firms, she is known for her ability to recruit across the functional areas of general management, technology, sales, marketing, finance, and human resources. Since joining Kincannon & Reed in 2011, Ms. Strauss has worked on assignments across the food value chain with an emphasis on produce, animal health and nutrition, and crop inputs.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media