Creating cultures that unleash the collective intelligence of teams and stakeholders will be key to manufacturing leadership in a world of increasing uncertainty and high velocity change, believes Bayer’s Charles J. Shank.

Q: What is your role and focus?
As Head of Manufacturing Excellence in Vegetables, I lead a team that’s responsible for a global network of seed operations plants, empowering our employees, investing our capital in the right places, and delivering savings from our entire supply chain through optimization.

Q: What is the most pressing issue facing the manufacturing industry today?
The most pressing issue is the amount and speed of change. As disruption happens in the areas of leadership, technology, culture and environment, there seems to be more ambiguity and uncertainty with a high velocity.

Q: What is the most important corporate initiative you are involved in?
Driving culture change as a thought partner and leader is most critical. We are implementing a new production system that utilizes lean leadership as a framework at our operations sites, which will introduce and require new behaviors from our operations teams. At the same time, we are implementing a new identity as Bayer Crop Science.

Q: What will be the most important leadership qualities to possess in the future?
I see being able to unleash the collective intelligence of your teams and stakeholders as a key leadership quality. Understanding how to catalyse co-creation, when to be directive, and when to utilize consensus will provide people with the opportunity to grow and organizations to be more resilient.

Q: What will be the greatest opportunities for manufacturers over the next five years?
Manufacturing has a huge opportunity to reclaim its place in the world as a noble profession. A few good places to start are creating the customer centric manufacturer, maximizing employee experience and growth, and expanding the value contribution of manufacturing to include societal and environmental benefits.

Q: What is your favorite activity outside of work?
The number one priority in my life is spending time with my family, but after that I love to stay healthy with weightlifting, swimming and meditation. I also enjoy hosting small group dinners and cocktail parties. The connections with people energize me.

Charles J. Shank

Title: Head of Vegetable Seeds Manufacturing Excellence
Company: Bayer Crop Science
Location: Research Triangle Park, NC
People: 38,000+ Employees (2018 Global)
Revenue: $15.9 billion (€14.3 billion, 2018 Global)
Industry: Agribusiness / Chemicals
Website: http://