From the first reports of the Covid virus in Wuhan, where Yara operates, to the vast shutdowns in Italy, program participants were guided through the sense of urgency and uncertainty that permeated the Yara offices. “We fully understood the potential magnitude of this, and how essential our products are to farmers. If our products do not get to the farmer, yields drop. In the case of wheat, by 50%,” Holsether commented, “our organization felt the pressures of surviving a health pandemic and responsibility of preventing a hunger pandemic.”
Knowing immediately the importance of maintaining operational control and protecting the health of employees, the Yara management team pulled together a panel of their most experienced operators. Leaning away from the traditional reaction of setting in place massive reporting structures and strict demands, Holsether asserts that his team knew they could rely on their colleagues globally because of three primary characteristics: a strong sense of mission, an unflappable safety program, and solid company culture.
Holsether noted that when he approached the board to tell them of their decision to give full regional control, they received full support. He empowered the organization to make decisions regionally, and prescribed three priorities:
- Look after the health and safety of Yara’s employees and contractors
- Support local governments in limiting the spread of the virus
- Get the product produced and out to the customers