February 16, 2016

Interview: Aidan Connolly, Alltech

Other than Aidan Connolly’s main role of Chief Innovation Officer and Vice President of Corporate Accounts with Alltech, Mr Connolly also works “hand-in-hand” with their Director of Research, Dr. Karl Dawson, in developing the next generation of technologies for Alltech.
As well as being the well-known architect of Alltech’s annual global feed survey, which assesses global feed tonnage in more than 130 countries, Mr Connolly is also responsible for organising Alltech’s ONE symposium as well as their internal management/leadership development programs.
A graduate of University College Dublin with an MBS in International Marketing, Mr. Connolly is now an adjunct professor of marketing at that very same institution. He is also a board member of IFIF, IAMA, the National Chicken Council, the National Turkey Federation, and a former board member of FEFANA.
Milling and Grain magazine met with Mr Connolly recently to discuss recent developments at Alltech, as well as any plans or strategies that the company has going forward.

How do you feel that your background has contributed to your ability to carry out your role at Alltech? 
Early in my career, I gained experience in sales and marketing and was directly involved in research development.  Over time, I gained hands-on experience through working in 100 different countries and living in Brazil, France, Ireland, Italy and the US.  All of these experiences gave me valuable insights into how the global agribusiness world was and is evolving and the increasing link between feed and food.  This perspective helps me every day in my leadership role at Alltech.
It has now been a number of months since Alltech purchased Masterfeeds. What is the strategy behind this particular development? And has this had any effect on the manner in which both companies now operate?
The purchase of Masterfeeds is part of an ongoing strategy to acquire more companies that will bring us closer to the farmer so that we can better develop technologies that will be put to use on the farm.  As the two companies have begun to interact, we have enjoyed an immediate working relationship that is steadily progressing into integrated corporate cultures.  We do see tremendous synergies in motion that will clearly be of great benefit.  This is similar to what we have seen in previous acquisitions, including Ridleys.  We will learn a lot from Masterfeeds, and I am sure they will learn from us also.
Alltech’s feed statistics survey results were recently published at IPPE. Which of the report’s findings do you believe to be the most remarkable and to have greatest influence on the growth of our industry?
I think the most important finding from our survey this year is the continued growth in India, which is now the fourth largest market globally.  We have seen very strong growth in Russia as well, and certainly continued growth in Africa as a region.  Poultry continues to be the species that is becoming more and more important.  We have not seen growth in some of the other species, although we feel the underlying trend for aquaculture continues to be very strong.
Given that Alltech has now successfully completed 13 acquisitions and are now on track to achieve US$4million over the next few years, what measures have Alltech taken to ensure that it is able to sustain this level of growth?
Our intent is to fully integrate the acquisitions we have made and to put ourselves in a situation where we can consider other acquisition opportunities when they become available.
We want to have a global presence on farm through our acquisitions, which will mirror our global presence in feed ingredients today.  Since we are present in 130 countries with 4 500 employees, one important factor is to have our acquisitions fully engaged and involved in our ONE symposium.  This year, we will have a record attendance and we encourage our readers to attend also. 
Alltech acquisitions have also been involved in our induction program, which we refer to as “Back to Basics” and the “Mini MBA,” which is our management development program.  The amalgamation and merging of all of these cultures together through the experience of these events will make for a much stronger overall organisation.
Going forward, do Alltech have any plans or major projects in the pipeline for the coming months? How important are your company’s developments in China to the future of Alltech?
Alltech continues to look at opportunities for acquisitions and I am sure that there will be more announcements in the next 12 months.  We view China as being a very important market, but also imagine that investments in many of the other BRIC and MINT countries--Brazil, Russia, India, Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey--will also be equally critical in terms of how this company moves and increases its global footprint.   
We have also written a paper on  “The Blueprint for Food Safety in China” and “The History of the Feed Industry.” These two articles are good resources for information about Alltech’s ongoing outreach efforts.
 We work closely with organizations such as IFIF, IFAMA, and many other organisations to support the importance of the feed industry’s overall goal of feeding 9 billion people globally. 

The Global Miller
This blog is maintained by The Global Miller staff and is supported by the magazine GFMT
which is published by Perendale Publishers Limited.

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