This is an installment in the “Why Iowa?” series highlighting individuals in America’s Cultivation Corridor with unique journeys
Family brought Jaci Robson to Iowa from Manchester, United Kingdom. After years of living and working in large cities, she’s found a great fit with a top-notch quality of life in Central Iowa and global responsibilities in her role as a Global Business Development Manager for the Worldwide Technology Acquisitions Team at Kemin Industries.
She shares her experiences in the Corridor and answers our question “Why Iowa?”
CC: What did you do prior to coming to Iowa to work for Kemin Industries?
JR: I worked at Aon Trade Credit. Their headquarters are in Chicago, and I was part of the international team. I was originally located in the Thames Valley area of the United Kingdom, which is what I would classify as the UK’s Silicon Valley. I managed the UK electronics division and worked with customers to assist them in determining the best way to manage their receivables. I coordinated with customers’ headquarters worldwide and travelled extensively to Asia, Europe, Middle East and the Americas.
CC: So, after working in a position with so much global outreach and travel, what brought you to Iowa?
JR: My husband is from Iowa! I did consider a transfer and weekly commute to Chicago but in the end, we decided to take a step back from the fast-paced large city life. We looked for opportunities around the Des Moines area and moved to Pleasantville. My husband works for the City of Pleasantville, and I am now at Kemin Industries.
CC: What is your role at Kemin, and what do you like about the company?
JR: I have been with Kemin for over four years. I started in the corporate market research team and was excited about the opportunity because Kemin seemed to be a company that fit with the niche of what Iowa is all about, but still a very global company. Kemin researches, develops and produces ingredients that improve the quality, safety and efficacy of feed, food and health-related products around the world. We have more than 2,500 employees that operate in more than 90 countries around the world.
Two years ago, I transferred to the newly formed worldwide technology acquisitions team to review partnership investment opportunities for novel technologies or products that will fit with our current portfolio or that could present opportunities for Kemin in the future. I handle marketing responsibilities for our three-person team.
In addition to the job responsibilities, I love that Kemin headquarters are just a few blocks away from the World Food Prize building near downtown Des Moines. That is my favorite building in Des Moines and I encourage all locals and visitors to tour this building. I think it’s just a great place to understand the history of Iowa.
CC: How do you like living in Iowa and the lifestyle you’ve found here?
JR: I love Iowa. I have always either worked or lived very close to big cities which included a long commute relying on many modes of transportation. I love the fact that my commute from Pleasantville is a 30-minute drive every day, but with no traffic! It doesn’t matter what the weather is like, what the time of year, it is 30 minutes.
I also have the beauty of being close to Des Moines yet living in small-town Iowa. We live just outside of Pleasantville, so we have an amazing view sitting on our deck overlooking fields with animals, beautiful sunsets, and clear skies, which I’ve never seen in cities.
While sometimes you just need to search a little bit more for some activities like museums and art galleries, or Broadway shows, the restaurant scene is great. We definitely have a better quality of life here and it is easier to save money. We were able to build a house which is larger than any property I’ve ever lived in. There’s everything you need here and it is a very easy place to live.
CC: Being in Iowa, do you still feel that you are working in a global workforce?
JR: I definitely feel part of a global workforce at Kemin, and I feel my coworkers have an appreciation for different cultures and the world as a whole. In my current role, I also have day-to-day contact with many coworkers and external partners overseas.
Kemin is a global company, but has a very local feel. It is still very diverse, very rewarding and very innovative, but without the rush-rush-rush that I’ve experienced elsewhere.
CC: If someone asked you, “Why Iowa?” what would you tell them?
JR: Because it is easy to become friends with a stranger. I feel this is a place where there is room for everyone. Sometimes that isn’t the feeling you have in a bigger city. There are opportunities to share ideas and try new things, whereas that opportunity may not be as apparent elsewhere.