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DAA: Gerald A. Powell

Gerald Powell

Gerald A. Powell

Zionsville, IN | Distinguished Ag Alumni: 2005

It’s been a busy 20 years for Gerald Powell since earning his Purdue bachelor’s degree in agriculture. Although he’s been with the same company since graduation—today’s Dow AgroSciences—over the years he’s held nine unique posts from sales representative to marketing and finance jobs. And he’s worked in Michigan, Nebraska, Illinois and, since 1990, in his home state of Indiana. Four years ago, he joined the company’s Six Sigma program. Since then, he’s served as a trainer and coach for 54 project managers who are Six Sigma Black Belts. Together, they’ve so far achieved some $30 million in growth and efficiency projects in North and South America. That, Powell says, is his greatest career achievement. “Six Sigma is a wonderful way to improve business effectiveness. It’s the newest chapter in the book of quality.” He’s made his mark through “hard work—55-plus hours a week, every week—and an insatiable appetite for learning. It’s who I am.” Besides ongoing reading, he returned to Purdue for an M.B.A. in Food and Agribusiness in 2001. Powell is “a passionate user and advocate of technology,” and professionally has created a number of tools, models and reports that have been regionally and globally deployed by Dow AgroSciences. A 4-H member as a youth, he was fascinated with electricity and electronics. He has been a volunteer for the organization since leaving Purdue. Today, he’s a 4-H leader and a parent who helps with his own children’s projects. Before he had a family, he enjoyed windsurfing, sailing, water skiing, snow skiing and cross-country skiing. If the children take up those activities, he will again, too. For now, he likes vegetable gardening, landscaping, and family learning vacations, particularly to national parks. “At Purdue, I met talented, personable faculty who worked hard and accomplished amazing things. Like my parents, professors challenged me to ‘give it everything’ and ‘good things will happen.’ Brilliant, actionable, effective advice that really works.”