I belong here

Life lessons to become a leader in agriculture


I grew up on a corn, soy, and livestock farm in Southern Minnesota. As a child on the farm, I followed my Mom closely as she farmed alongside my dad. She taught me that women not only belong in agriculture, but that they need to be leaders in agriculture.

Growing up I didn't imagine the road to gender equity in agriculture so bumpy. It is the resilience my mom taught me that helped to grow my career and my family.
Shannon Hauf, PhD.
, senior vice president and head of seed, Production Innovation, Crop Science Division

Mother's life lessons in leadership

My mother was patient with us kids, more than we deserved. Some of my jobs on the farm were far from fun, but they were filled with life lessons. It is those lessons I apply in my current role as leader, mentor and advocate at Bayer Crop Science, and it is those lessons that continue to propel me though my leadership journey and as St. Louis Business Journal’s Most Influential Business Women, Class of 2020.

Passing on what I’ve learnt

The recognition is the reminder that the pursuit of excellence in business and leadership is worth never, ever giving in or giving up, there’s too much to lose. The line to tell you ‘no’ is much longer than the line to tell you ‘yes.’ It is this resilience my mom taught me I take into driving initiatives that are important to me, including the road to gender equity in the workplace, teaching the next generation the importance of agriculture and sciences; ensuring those in need have access to food, clothes, and a safe place; and helping youth break the cycle of poverty. I’ve worked hard and led fiercely, no doubt; but it doesn’t go without saying, I’ve been given so much, and been in the right place at the right time many times. I’ve rarely let an opportunity pass me by.

To me, leadership and influence is the ability to help others achieve. It’s the ability to create a vision and have others follow. It’s giving those confidence there are possibilities for better outcomes. It is simply getting things done because people want to rather than have to. My role in our organization is to make sure we have an environment where everyone can bring their best self to work. And when they can do that, we will drive innovation and achieve great outcomes for our business.

I’m exactly where I want to be, making a difference for the world.

It is the job of our team to deliver the best, highest quality seeds to farmers around the world. And to do that while reducing costs and environmental footprint in our Product Supply organizations. It’s a big job for our organization, but one we are committed to deliver.

Shannon Hauf is the Senior Vice President and Head of Crop Technology for soybeans for Bayer in the U.S. She is responsible for the Research and Development (R&D) strategy for soybeans.

As a leader and role model for women in agriculture, she serves as executive sponsor for Bayer’s Women in Science Network. When not at work, Shannon can be found on their farm outside of St. Louis with her husband, Darrin and their two children, Carter and Ella.

3 min read