Pioneer Spotlight: Dr. Lucie Kadjo

Lucie Kadjo

Dr. Lucie Kadjo came to UW-Platteville in 2016. As an assistant professor of agribusiness in the School of Agriculture, Kadjo has spent the last four years promoting the importance of learning throughout an individual’s life – not just during a person’s time as an undergraduate or graduate student. Currently, she teaches Introduction to Agribusiness, Marketing Management and Quantitative Methods, where she connects the dots between the agriculture industry and business concepts in relation to agriculture.

Kadjo stresses to students that professors do not always have all the answers, and that they are learning as much as their students are. For students and professors, she argues that outside of the classroom – and even more so in the job market – that learning never ceases. She also explains to her students that having the passion to learn will allow them to progress quickly and reach greater levels of success.

To help her students better meet this success, Kadjo invests considerable time and effort in finding guest speakers from the agriculture industry and by providing conferences for students to attend. Kadjo received her bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Hassan I in Morocco, and her Master of Science and Ph.D. in agricultural economics from the University of Florida in Gainesville.

In an area of the Midwest that is known for agriculture, how do you prepare students for doing business in an industry that is so expansive?

In all my courses, I prepare students to be strategic decision makers and critical thinkers, to work well with others, and to develop oral and written communication skills. Getting them ready to do business in the industry start with helping them understand the agribusiness concepts. From understanding consumer purchasing behavior to determining how to maximize profits, students learn what it takes to make strategic business decisions. Students are updated on current issues in agriculture and agribusiness by reading journal articles published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA); and they get to present their article to the class. Additionally, in my marketing courses, I prepare students to be creative and good marketing managers through group projects. Students also get exposed to real-life situations by working with community partners. For example, they worked on developing a marketing plan for a beef farm.  Finally, being able to analyze data and make decision accordingly is important in the business world; therefore, in Quantitative Methods, students learn to analyze data and make decisions.

What connections between agriculture and business do you emphasize to your students to ensure their success?

I like to invite guest speakers from the agriculture industry because they can connect for students these two areas. One example I can think of is when I invited a seed dealer to speak in my classes. While the speaker is based in agriculture, the business aspect is still there. One speaker came this year from Select Sires and explained to us that the company is specialized in producing semen and breeding cattle – the agricultural side – but also emphasized the importance of marketing- the business side- in selling their livestock products and doing business with producers. These guest speakers tie the agricultural and business sides of my classes so that students can see the ways the two interact.

Outside of teaching, what goals do you have for your professional life?

Professional development and community service. With professional development, my goal is to go to conferences as often as I can to learn new teaching styles or ways to implement active learning tools. This is something that I cherish because I am constantly looking for ways to be a better instructor and to make students successful. I am also the advisor for the National Agri-Marketing Association. We get to go to conferences often to give students knowledge outside of the classroom. Community service is something that is important to me. Outside of teaching, I tend to partner myself and students with a community partner. One partner was a farmer from the area. We helped create a marketing plan to help market his beef. We present our marketing research to our partners so that they can use the information to succeed. Over the summer, I like to get involved with middle and high school students. For example, I participate in the Pre-College program where I teach agribusiness courses to underrepresented high school students. I also participate in continuing education program where I teach middle school kids how to make flowers using tissue papers and how to sew.

Are there any qualities in our agribusiness or agriculture students that set them apart from others and show off the Pioneer spirit?

I really like students with positive attitudes. I like the willingness to learn that is shown by positive students; students show it by participating in class and engaging with the class material. These attitudes set these students aside. Students may be doing well in my classes but not all of them have the positive attitudes that set them apart and show off the Pioneer spirit.

Every year, you take students to see Warren Buffet speak. How do you think that experience helps your students

I have taken students three times every year to see Warren Buffet at the Berkshire Hathaway Conference in Omaha, Nebraska. I really like the enthusiasm of the over 40,000 people who attend the conference. After the conference, the participant students have to write a report about their experience. Some of my students who took Financial Accounting, and then heard Warren Buffet speak about financial accounting, were able to connect what Buffet said to the material they learned in class. Also, the conference explained to students the importance of stocks. Even if the students did not know a lot about stocks, the information they gained from going to the conference got them interested in it and how they work. Sometimes, even if parts of the conference do not have anything to do with what we learn in class, the information gained is a lesson in life. For example, students learned that in order to get something, you have to work hard for what you want and to learn to deal with the challenges. When Warren tells his story, he explains how he was originally a newspaper seller when he was little. He wasn’t rich originally, but he built his way up. This is one of the major things that students take away from this conference.