David W. MacLennan
David W. MacLennan became president and chief executive officer of Cargill in 2013 and was elected to the Cargill Board of Directors in 2008. He was chief financial officer from 2008 to 2011 and chief operating officer from 2011 to 2013.
Joining Cargill in 1991, he has held management positions within Cargill’s financial, risk management, energy, and animal protein businesses, living in both London and Geneva. Prior to joining Cargill, he worked in the futures and securities trading sector in Chicago and for U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray in Minneapolis.
Outside of Cargill, MacLennan serves on the boards of C.H. Robinson Worldwide and the Greater Minneapolis St. Paul Regional Economic Development Partnership. He is also the former chair of College Possible, a non-profit focused on making college admission and success possible for low-income students.
He holds a bachelor’s degree from Amherst College and an MBA from the University of Chicago.
Cargill is a privately held, family-owned company providing food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services to the world. Its 143,000 global employees are committed to feeding people in a responsible way, and helping its customers thrive.
Innovation and STEM talent play a big part in in this. Whether it is developing healthier and better-for-you ingredients, tailoring foods for local tastes, using starches and other foodstuffs as petrochemical replacements in packaging and industrial materials, using data to better understand crop management and markets, managing its worldwide supply chains responsibly and sustainably, or developing processes that reduce costs and create value, talented science, IT and engineering professionals are essential to Cargill’s success.
Cargill is committed to operating responsibly as it pursues its goal of being the global leader in nourishing people, and in 2013 contributed $69 million to combat world hunger, promote sustainable agricultural practices, and support STEM education
Some years ago, there was a campaign to support manufacturing and it had the tagline: “America won’t make it without manufacturing.” The reality is that in today’s world we will not make it without innovation and that innovation is dependent on increasing the number of highly qualified STEM graduates.
To achieve that aim, we have some ways to go. The 2013 ACT Condition of College & Career Readiness report showed that of all ACT-tested high school graduates only 44% showed readiness for mathematics at the college level and only 36% showed readiness for science.
Cargill is committed to improving math and science readiness, and is working with universities in order to ensure that their STEM graduates are world class. With the aim of feeding 9 billion people by 2050 with accessible, affordable and nutritious food and doing so responsibly with as little impact on the environment as possible, we need people with technical skills who think creatively and are exceptional problem solvers.
Cargill is actively involved in efforts with university systems to better align their programming with future workforce needs and that encourage talented students to enter these fields. Cargill has invested significantly in STEM education through its philanthropic agenda. The idea is to build a better workforce pipeline, rather than simply compete for a diminishing pool of candidates. What is clear to us is that we need people with superior technical talent – IT professionals, engineers and research scientists – to help our customers thrive.
We believe inclusion and diversity are a source of great strength for our company and the global community. Given our operations in 67 countries and people’s changing tastes across many countries and cultures, inclusion and diversity are absolutely essential to our business success. We need employees who are sensitive to the world of our customer’s consumers and we need people who think in different ways and can easily share different perspectives. Ultimately this makes us more innovative and more nimble in adapting to changes in the marketplace.
Cargill has supported many programs in the K-12 grades to help create the pipeline of students and workforce in STEM fields. I am most proud of Cargill’s multiple partnerships to roll out STEM curricula in those grades. Starting early is important if we are to inspire and motivate young people to pursue future study and careers in STEM.
For example, we support the “Engineering is Elementary” (EiE) program created by the Museum of Science in Boston to introduce engineering and technological concepts and career paths to children in grades 1 through 5. The storybook based curriculum covers all facets of engineering – environmental, mechanical, civil, industrial, acoustical, agricultural, biological, electrical, chemical, geotechnical aerospace and oceanic. The stories begin with an image of a child faced with an engineering dilemma. Cargill has contributed millions to the EiE initiative, which is currently used in all 50 states and nearly 3,000 schools. A 2010 study of the program showed that EIE students were significantly more likely to want to be engineers and significantly more likely to say science and engineering make “people’s lives better”.
In addition, Cargill partners with Project Lead the Way (PLTW), which is focused on bringing STEM education to middle and high school students. Cargill supports PLTW’s Gateway to Technology© program, which provides an engineering-focused curriculum to middle school students, and the Pathway to Engineering© program, a four-year high school program taught in conjunction with college preparatory mathematics and science courses that gives students hands-on knowledge of engineering concepts, design and problem-solving. A study of its program shows that PLTW alumni are: five times more likely to graduate from college with a STEM degree than students who do not participate in the program, have higher GPAs than their peers in their freshman year of college, and have higher college retention rates.
Cargill and the National 4-H Council have co-created 4-H Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) Clubs, a comprehensive science program engaging more than 600 local youth and Cargill employees in Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. In the first year of the partnership, 22 4-H SET clubs were implemented in the five grantee states. From summer food science camps in Kansas to robotics clubs in Missouri and Iowa, these new initiatives have reached more than 628 youth and 118 volunteers. Other types of activities in the 4-H SET Clubs include experiments, hands-on activities, problem-solving and demonstrations.
These programs and others like them, which bring the excitement of STEM learning alive and introduce STEM career possibilities to America’s schoolchildren, are vital to building the pipeline of our nation’s next generation of STEM leaders.