Destination Career: Grad views work as feeding the world
By Audrie Koester
Photo provided by Christy Penner
Amir Faghih, who earned a bachelor's degree in agricultural education from Purdue in 2006, is a product manager for Dow AgroSciences. The products he works on aim to reduce farmers' costs, reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and improve corn yields.
There are three numbers never far from Amir Faghih's mind: 50, 100 and 70. In 50 years the world will need 100 percent more food and 70 percent of that will come from improved technology.
If we are to reach those numbers, production agriculture will need to increase food output while protecting the environment and farmland for future generations, Faghih said. The 2006 Purdue agricultural education graduate says these numbers are within reach with the improvements in technology today.
Faghih is the product manager for the nitrogen stabilization products at Dow AgroSciences, one of agriculture's largest chemical companies. The products he works on are part of the improved technology that he says lead the fight against hunger.
"There are currently a billion people in the world who don't receive adequate nutrition," said Faghih. "With populations expected to grow, we all need to focus on the how we can utilize technology and education to feed our world well beyond our lifetimes. I enjoy being a part of a team that looks for new ways to do things better and more effectively in the industry responsible for feeding the world."
The nitrogen stabilizer products Faghih works on inhibit the bacteria that eat away the nitrogen farmers apply to their cornfields. Corn needs nitrogen and other nutrients to form large, healthy ears. Nitrogen stabilizers can hold nitrogen in the soil longer, so farmers don't have to apply as much fertilizer. Not only can that control a farmer's costs, it can reduce greenhouse gases and increase corn yields.
"It's exciting to see products I work with daily be successful for others," Faghih said. "Harvest season for farmers is when they see all their hard work pay off, and to know I played a role in that is very rewarding."
At Dow, Faghih is in charge of setting the quantity of nitrogen stabilizers to be produced and distributed, establishing their price and overseeing the marketing campaign. In the four years since Faghih graduated from Purdue, he has advanced to work with a global team that manages millions of dollars.
"I really enjoy the agriculture industry and the people who work in it," Faghih said. "We all work to help more than just ourselves, and I see how important it is to be an ambassador for agriculture."
Faghih said working with a new product and new people from around the globe can be quite challenging. However, he said the benefits far outweigh the costs when he sees his hard work pay off at harvest time when reports from the field showed increased yields. He sees himself not just as an ambassador for agriculture, but as a person who works for all people.
"I feel like I am in the fight every day for the benefit of farmers and those who want to eat," Faghih said about his work. "It gets stressful at times, but at the end of the day I feel good about the work I've done and where the industry is headed."
It helps that the work matches his personality.
"I've learned that I enjoy working with people and solving problems," Faghih said. "I found that you can't be prepared for everything, and sometimes you have to dive in and get started before you find out what you need in order to complete the task responsibly."
Sometimes what you need is a little humor to accomplish a task. Faghih has been known for his sense of humor since his days at Purdue. Tracie Egger, Purdue Agriculture assistant director of academic programs, advised Faghih when he participated in the Agriculture Ambassadors program at Purdue.
"Amir was the most motivated, energetic person, and was fun to be around," Egger said. "He was always pulling pranks, but still was one of the hardest workers I knew."
Faghih is still known by his peers for his hard work and fun-loving attitude that have helped him climb the ladder at Dow AgroSciences and handle the responsibility placed on him with each new job.