HPI Seeking CEO/President

Position Available

Job Title: CEO & President -Heartland Plant Innovations, Inc.

Reports to: Board of Directors -Heartland Plant Innovations, Inc.

Location: Manhattan, Kansas

Heartland Plant Innovations, Inc. (HPI) seeks a dynamic, entrepreneurial business leader to provide hands-on leadership for the next phase of the Company’s growth and development. HPI aims to be a world-class provider of genetic technology that solves problems for the crop improvement, agriculture and food industries. The position is available immediately.

HPI is a modern plant science company founded in 2009 by a group of public and private-sector partners including agricultural producers, public institutions, and prominent companies in the plant genetics and food science sectors. Located in the new Kansas Wheat Innovation Center, HPI has access to state-of-the-art facilities and equipment.

HPI has laid the foundation for two core businesses: 1) Advanced Plant Breeding Services, currently serving customers in North America, Europe and South America, and 2) Sponsored Research, which aims to deliver novel genetic traits for commercialization by breeders in the private and public sectors. The successful candidate will lead a thorough evaluation of HPI’s current businesses and work with the Board to focus efforts on future opportunities that maximize the Company’s chances for investment, growth and profitability.

HPI applies advanced technologies for gene discovery, trait validation and crop improvement to deliver new products and production platforms that target high-value market opportunities. HPI works in a highly collaborative fashion with partners in industry and academia, focusing on food and crop genetics.

Reporting to the HPI Board of Directors, the President of HPI will be responsible for managing all research, operational, commercial, administrative and financial operations for the Company. The

President will direct and manage the day-to-day operations of HPI atHPI akjsadf;ajksd the Center and lead a team of HPI staff.


The President will lead HPI’s management and research team that is comprised of the following:

  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO): oversees Company financial transactions and accounting, as well as human resources and occupational health and safety; plays key role in business planning and evaluating financial performance
  • Advanced Plant Breeding Services Team: a high-performance team that currently includes four salaried Research Associates with BS or MS education; one full-time Research Assistant; three part-time Research Workers

Specific responsibilities for the President of HPI will include the following:

  • Provide hands-on scientific and business leadership to strengthen and expand HPI’s Advanced Plant Breeding Services business.
  • Provide direction to HPI’s research program to ensure timely attainment of goals for priority research projects.
  • Oversee business development activities to include identifying and prioritizing appropriate research partners/collaborators and playing a key role in the negotiations of such partnership arrangements and the management of the ensuing relationship. Key partners include Kansas State University and other Universities inside and outside of Kansas.
  • Determine capital needs, in conjunction with the CFO and the Board, for optimal growth of HPI. Identify and secure capital sources (equity/debt financing and/or grants) to adequately capitalize HPI to meet business objectives.
  • Guide the development of HPI’ s intellectual property strategies and program to include patenting HPI research, freedom-to-operate reviews, in-licensing of necessary intellectual property, out licensing negotiations, etc.
  • Liaise with key external stakeholders such as Kansas State University officials, trade and general_ media, wheat and sorghum associations, major seed companies, Kansas Department of Commerce, and others to apprise them of HPI’s progress.
  • Oversee development of necessary physical infrastructure (e.g., laboratories, offices) to meet HPI’s needs cost-effectively.

The following are other important responsibilities for which the HPI Board will hold the President accountable:

  • Lead the senior management team in the effective operation of all aspects of the Company’s businesses to maximize shareholder value and returns.
  • Review, develop, articulate, communicate, and implement an approved business vision, strategy, and plan to operate and grow the Company’s business. Build consensus with the Board regarding the plan and its implications.
  • Develop a tactical plan to achieve agreed-upon goals and objectives. Monitor performance and implement corrective actions where necessary.
  • Achieve the strategic, financial, operational, and business development objectives established in collaboration with the senior executive team and as approved by the Board. Inform and update the Board on Company performance against committed objectives.
  • Attract, develop, motivate, and retain talented, competent, and committed managers and employees at all organizational levels.
  • Oversee the financial matters of the Company; work and interact effectively with the Board of Directors in their stewardship and governance of the affairs of the Company.
  • Maintain good working relationships between the Company, its grower-owners, and private-sector company investors. Effectively represent the interests of the Company with related and third party affiliated organizations/companies and external stakeholders.

Desired Knowledge, Skills, Competencies, and Experience

Candidates will be sought who are results-driven executives with excellent strategic thinking skills, relevant plant science industry experience, a strong team-oriented attitude, and a business builder’s perspective, thought process, and execution capability. The winning candidate will have a “roll-up-your­sleeves,” dynamic management style and strong interpersonal skills that are equally effective in a boardroom or laboratory and in on-farm visits with producers.

Additionally, the ideal candidate will have most, if not all, of the following skills, knowledge, experience, and personal characteristics:

  • Entrepreneurial vision and drive.  A demonstrated track record of developing and implementing a successful business development strategy, including initiating and successfully managing value­creating partnerships.
  • A Ph.D. degree in plant science, genetics, molecular biology, or a related discipline such as agronomy or food science, with relevant experience in commercializing technology for crop improvement or MBA with significant work experience in plant science, genetics, or molecular biology, or a related discipline.
  • Outstanding listening and communication skills. The ability to visualize, understand, explain, and sell, at a senior executive level, what HPI and its technologies can bring to firms in several different industries.
  • Five or more years of relevant corporate research experience with tenure as a senior executive or business unit head.
  • A track record of successful development and scale-up of a plant science related business or business unit. A working knowledge of current/evolving technologies related to improvement of plants and good familiarity with the global plant biotechnology and seed markets.
  • A working knowledge in two or more of the following business sectors: cereal crops, biomaterials, crop seeds, plant biotechnology, food, biofuels, and nutraceuticals/functional foods.
  • A strong leadership profile and able to create and maintain an environment where people are motivated and inspired to succeed and achieve ambitious targets. Proven ability to attract and lead best-in-class managers.
  • Strategic orientation with the ability to apply a solid grasp of business management and leadership principles in the context of the Company’s structure and business, and to think and act opportunistically. Detail orientation with the ability to quickly master the subject matter and see it in the context of the broader business framework.
  • A personality and manner that demonstrates confidence, assertiveness, initiative, judgment, and a straightforward tenor to interpersonal relationships, and the ability to quickly develop relationships and generate trust with all stakeholders ranging from owners and employees to partners.
  • A high level of integrity, physical and intellectual energy, and a “never-give-up” tenacity.

If interested, please send your CV as well as a short letter describing your motivation and a list of 2 to 3 references to:

Rob Berard


Heartland Plant Innovations

1990 Kimball Ave

Manhattan, KS  66506

(785) 320-4300

Applications may be submitted via email to:  rberard@heartlandinnovations.com

Closing date for initial review of applications is August 31, 2017, but the position will remain open until filled. 

HPI is an Equal Opportunity Employer and a Drug Free Workplace.