Published on April 15, 2019
Get to know our team: Laurent Souti
Laurent Souti has agriculture in his roots as the son of a farmer. His drive to seek out new challenges and find solutions makes him well suited for his role as General Manager for the EMEA region (Europe, Middle East, and Africa). In this position, Laurent guides his team to adapt production and the product offering to local markets and consumer expectations. He enjoys working as a team, whether at work or at home with his family.
Can you tell me more about your background in agriculture and genetics?
I have many years of experience in agriculture as the son of a farmer. We grew crops and farmed cattle for dairy and beef. This means that my holidays were always very busy and not at the beach! After completing my degree in agricultural engineering, my objective was not to take over the family farm but rather to find new challenges within the agriculture sector. I got my start in agribusiness in the field of vegetable crops. Some years later, I had the opportunity to get involved in the animal and genetics sector. I like that this sector in the food industry works with live animals, and as such, we must anticipate market changes, work to continuously improve our products, and adapt to biosecurity needs. I worked for Grelier for five years; the company was then acquired by Hendrix Genetics, and I have worked with Hendrix Genetics for seven years. In this time there have always been new challenges to overcome.
What do you find to be the most rewarding part about working in the industry?
What I find rewarding is the management of a team, of professionals and people passionate about a job with its own set of technical skills. The team is able to make progress by bringing in individuals with their own expertise: technical improvements, process optimization, product development, etc.. Furthermore, I enjoy working with different people locally and with colleagues from other countries on common projects. Another interesting point is the quality of the customer relationship: to be able to discuss their needs, to understand market evolutions and to adapt our products accordingly. It is motivating to have a variety of challenges, and this is really the case in this industry. Finally, I find it rewarding that each employee has an impact on the final result, no matter your position in the company. Whether you are a farm worker or in a management position, what you do matters in the end. The choices we make in breeding, planning or for the commercial strategy have a real impact on the market and the consumed products.
What are the main focus areas in terms of production in the EMEA (Europe, Middle-East, Africa) region in 2019? In the longer term?
The EMEA (Europe, Middle-East, Africa) region is wide and includes different countries and cultures as well as diverse markets and approaches, each with their own opportunities and risks. It is a true challenge to be able to adapt the production and future developments accordingly. In the short-term in 2019, our objective is to have a more proactive supply chain: to better anticipate our customers’ needs and to offer the right products, at the right time. To do this, the coordination between our production areas in France, Poland and Hungary must be precise. Furthermore, it is important to offer a balanced portfolio of products for different needs and markets. To accomplish this, we are creating a new Pedigree farm in France that will be a genuine asset since it will allow us to adapt our lines to the needs and characteristics of the local markets of the EMEA.
In your opinion, what are the challenges of turkey farmers’ within the various regions and what do we do to support them and allow them to thrive in their market?
Raising turkeys is a complicated and insightful job that requires a strong technical background and an ability to constantly make adjustments where needed. The growers are ready to invest in their technical skills, but they also want to feel comfortable and set up to succeed. In order to do so, we provide them with support in the field to analyze their difficulties and find solutions. We also organize several technical events all over Europe and provide dedicated support. Our portfolio allows us to offer the growers products that are capable of overcoming the common issues in turkey production with continuous genetic improvement. Finally, we recognize that the markets have different needs. In a mature market like Western Europe, we reinforce our support in highly technical areas and offer the growers specific products. In contrast, in developing markets, like in some African countries, our support involves setting up adapted practices encouraging the development of the turkey sector.
Why do you like working for Hendrix Genetics?
What is interesting at Hendrix Genetics is that you can work with so many different people on an international level. And beyond turkeys, the company is constantly moving. It is possible to work on a variety of projects with other activities and species. It is a demanding group that is growing and offers numerous opportunities to the employees. At the same time, Hendrix Genetics has kept its identity as a family company, where the management is accessible as is often the case with our clients.
Outside of work, what could we find you doing, listening to, reading, watching?
I have a family with 5 children, so the weekend is very busy. We like to be active and do things like hiking in the mountains in the summer. I focus on family time and if I have some time left, I enjoy playing table tennis. I also like to work on our home, whether inside or outside, such as maintenance and gardening. It allows me to get back to the hands-on side I experienced a lot more when I was younger while working at the farm. At work I have fewer opportunities to get outside, so I catch up at home!