Rafael Estevez, Jenkins MBA
Degrees earned: North Carolina State University: B.S. in Forest Management, M.S. in Forest Management with Economics minor, and Jenkins MBA, emphasis in Entrepreneurship and Finance, and University of North Carolina Wilmington: Business Foundations Certificate
Organization: Growers, LLC
Title: Data Operations Manager
Tell us about your current job duties, and how you’re working to integrate sustainability into your role:
Growers is a precision agriculture company committed to increasing farmers’ profitability, both through increasing yields and optimizing inputs. As Data Operations Manager, I am responsible for organizing, managing, and analyzing our clients’ data. These important business functions allow the Growers team to gain valuable insights into our farmers’ operations. We use these insights to help our clients achieve greater production with less wasted resources.
What experiences first made you interested in using your career to drive business sustainability?
I always had an interest in sustainable practices and being a good steward of the Earth’s resources. My passion only grew as I continued to be involved in building green infrastructure in urban areas, managing vegetation in and near powerline corridors, and being an advocate for urban forestry issues. Managing the land in a way that leaves it in the same or in better condition for future generations is a cause I am dedicated to.
Give us some examples of how your company uses sustainability to drive innovation, produce results, or improve the way you do business.
Growers is a leader in innovation and is leveraging new technologies to benefit its clients to increase their yield with the same or less inputs. We are helping the farmer better understand and manage these new technologies to make their operations more profitable and sustainable. Growers also helps farmers manage their nutrient management to minimize wasted resources from overapplication.
What do you love the most about your job?
I enjoy helping farmers put food on their table and others while being part of the effort in preserving farmland. I am also grateful to be a member of an awesome team that shares similar passions!
What’s your advice for students who are interested in sustainability? How can students combine their sustainability interests with their day-to-day duties?
I would advise aspiring sustainability professionals to be patient. Change typically happens over time and is a marathon more so than a sprint. Many companies are still waking up to the true meaning of being sustainable and embedding it into their culture. Be a role model, influence change and celebrate the small victories are just a few ways to initiate change.