27 May Lucas Fuess
Analyzing to Articulating
Some careers have slow downs – times where an employee can be on autopilot and work without much cognitive thinking. This is not the case with Lucas Feuss, the Director of Market Intelligence for HighGround Dairy of Chicago, Illinois. Lucas’ day-to-day job includes crunching numbers, reading reports, analyzing data, and synthesizing all of that into a direct market opinion on the dairy industry that is, in turn, shared with customers in an articulated report. Whether or not you aspire to be in an analyst career of sorts, these skills are pertinent in any business and Lucas discusses tips on how you can improve.
“I have been in dairy all my life,” says Lucas, “It is where I wanted my career to go.”
With dairy and agriculture at the forefront of his conscious entering college, Lucas double majored in animal science, primarily dairy, and agricultural education. Teaching was always in the back of his mind as an opportunity but through his upperclassmen years, he saw himself leaning more towards the business route.
When introduced by a professor to an entry level position in Chicago, he jumped at the chance! It was exactly where he wanted to be: in a big city that was the “Wall Street of Agriculture” – Chicago!
The Importance of Network
At times, Lucas feels like he “just fell” into that first position which led to his current career with HighGround Dairy. In a lot of ways it speaks to how critical the network that you can create and the value of those connections can be. Whether you are in high school or college, ending your career or starting your career, one of the biggest skills you can learn is the ability to make connections whether it be with people in your industry, in agriculture or even broader in life. You don’t want to ever go around burning bridges.
Don’t be afraid to work hard or put in extra hours. At the end of the day the job is either not going to get done and then it’s not done, or, someone else will step in and do it and get the recognition and credit for it. Give your best all day, every day, so you can be rewarded, your company can flourish and your customers can see success.
Director of Intelligence Duties
Being able to look at raw data and information, form an opinion and then write articulately about that opinion requires a unique skillset. Under a constant bombardment of information all day, every day, and all hours of the day, it’s important to make sure that you have reliable go-to sources to form the foundation of what you are looking at.
“We put a lot of weight on the government data,” Lucas explains. “It won’t be tainted… it can be off but it’s the baseline story that everyone is going to be going off of whether it’s the USDA, Europe or New Zealand.”
After collecting reliable data, you then build on the information by listening to your network, a lot of reading and checking your industry’s history books. For example, if a data point looks “weird” and you have no current recollection of seeing that data in that way previously, searching through history can show both large and small factors that created a similar impact in the past.
The ability to have a good foundation and having the artistic ability to put an articulate spin on the data and opinion provided requires brain power and knowledge. It is important to stay grounded in fact, but also be able to synthesize the data. It can be easy with a team of ten members like Lucas’ to have ten differing opinions when looking at economic reports and creating a market decision, so it is important that they stay unified through communication to represent one voice to their consumers.
Depending on the data and the consumer, reports can be a one page written analysis with the most important takeaway charts up to a 50 slide powerpoint for a monthly snapshot of key drivers. This can include globally moving parts, domestically moving parts and even numbers on an excel spreadsheet.
“Not all math and economics are science, there is some art with it.”
You can follow Luke on Twitter where you can ask him all things dairy industry and cheese!
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