Now, as the primary female CEO of Land O’Lakes — and the primary overtly homosexual female CEO within the Fortune 500 record of largest US corporations — Ford remembers a dialog along with her mom years in the past that taught her that “while we may not have everything, we have enough, and given what we have, much was expected of us.”

“She said, ‘Do you understand what is expected of you? Do you understand how much you have? Don’t disappoint,’ and I was like, ‘I’ve gotta work hard to not disappoint,'” Ford says.

Ford has a imaginative and prescient for Land O’Lakes. She needs to remodel individuals’s perceptions of the butter and cream firm and refocus consideration on the efforts it is making within the ag-tech area.

“My vision is to continue to invest in technology,” she says. “You have to have agility. E-commerce and e-business and technology is disrupting all industries, including agriculture, and there’s an opportunity when you have an insight-driven, technology-focused company, as I believe Land O’ Lakes is.”

The way forward for Land O’Lakes

In July, the USA slapped tariffs on $34 billion price of Chinese language imports, a transfer China referred to as the start of “the biggest trade war in economic history.” In response, China imposed tariffs on billions of {dollars} price of US exports, together with cotton, dairy and soybeans.

“Grain farmers, growers, and producers across the US are all affected by the uncertainty churning around trade negotiations and retaliatory tariffs,” Ford says. “Export market access is critical to these farmers and the agriculture industry and we’re seeing a slowdown due to uncertainty in the trade environment.”

Ford says she’s spoken with soybean farmers and others involved with the tariff politics.

“What I would tell you is that our farmer members are supportive in understanding that the administration is trying to do something on intellectual property theft,” she says. “They want to make sure that they have appropriate trade agreements, and I think that they’re supportive.”

Greater than the rest, she says, these farmers want decision and readability — shortly.

“Time is critical,” she says. “So then what’s the most important thing the administration can do? They can move with speed and resolve these trade issues and resolve those tariff issues.”

Being a primary

When the announcement about Ford’s promotion to CEO went out, the press launch celebrated her achievements, but it surely made no particular point out of an necessary “first” in Fortune 500 historical past.

With Ford’s promotion, she turned the primary overtly homosexual female CEO to steer a Fortune 500 firm.

Within the months since, she’s heard from individuals about how a lot that “first” has meant to them.

“People have come up to me and said, ‘Thank you,'” she says. “And it’s not just the LGBTQ community, it is just people in their normal life saying, ‘Thank you for being your authentic self and encouraging others to do that.'”

Ford says she’s by no means confronted discrimination in her profession, however she’s positively thought of its potential impression on herself and her household.

“I had made deliberate decisions for some places where I felt as though it may not be as friendly,” she says. “I said, ‘The job looks great. You’re a wonderful leader. I can’t be here because I don’t think this will be great. My spouse is a woman, and I have a daughter.”

Excited about the dwindling share of female CEOs within the Fortune 500, she says progress cannot be actually made till the general variety of women leaders will increase — one thing that she sees as “a shared responsibility” for administration groups and their expertise growth packages.

On that path to the C-suite, she calls again to an necessary lesson, but once more from her mom: “Beth, if you want something, ask for it.”

“You expect you’re going to be recognized because you’ve done the hard work, and that isn’t actually how it always happens,” Ford says.