Podcast: Prof Jim Lowe on getting work done through others

Podcast: Prof Jim Lowe on getting work done through others

In collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim, Pig Progress introduces the 2nd episode of the 3rd season of this well-known podcast series, ‘Meet the Expert’ where a guest from the animal health business shares their thoughts about relevant pig health topics. This episode focuses on veterinary practice and ‘getting work done through others’.

In May 2022, during a Boehringer Ingelheim event that took place ahead of the 13th European Symposium of Porcine Health Management, a discussion was recorded live on stage. The theme of this discussion was ‘The art and science of getting work done through others’ featuring Jim Lowe, veterinarian and associate professor and director of the i-Learning Centre at the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois in the US.

Lowe emphasises the importance of always asking the simple question: ‘How do we do things better?’ and highlights the importance of leading others skilfully. He shares various experiences over his career that have helped him to “get smarter”. He remembers a valuable learning lesson and tells of an earlier experience from his 20s when the company he was working for went from 50,000 sows to 100,000 sows overnight through various mergers and acquisitions. “I was irrational, impatient, and pretty sure I was smarter than anyone else… I had the title so I thought my job was to make them do it… An epic fail.”

Understanding the whole system

Leading, he says, is about understanding, communicating and connecting. He stresses the importance of intricately understanding the whole system of pig production because one element or link in the chain will have an impact on other links in the chain. Changes, therefore, need to have high-level approval and support where there is an overview of the entire production chain and a good understanding of the effect of those decisions.

He also observes that, in his experience, effective leaders are good at removing obstacles, finding resources, and facilitating problem-solving.

Natalie Berkhout Freelance journalist