• After becoming the first in his family to graduate college, Mexican immigrant Pedro Ramos joins the Cargill team as an operations manager before advancing to the front office.
  • At his current role as assistant human resources manager, Ramos (right) meets with employees in Friona, Texas, to gain feedback he can use to make the plant more successful.
  • Ramos’ entire family has found opportunities at Cargill, including his mother Rosa (left) and father Pedro Sr. (right), who work on the processing floor in the Texas beef plant.

Creating opportunities for employee engagement

An employee-focused atmosphere at Cargill’s Friona facility opens doors for a diverse range of talent and development.

Pedro Ramos was four years old when he moved with his family from Guanajuato, Mexico, to the United States, his tiny suitcase heavy with dreams for a life of achievement and prosperity. Today, Ramos works in the front office of the Cargill beef plant in Friona, Texas, as an assistant human resources (HR) manager. How he got there is an inspirational story of recognizing and seizing opportunities and never settling for second best.

As a new immigrant in the US, Ramos’ father, Pedro Sr., found work as a farm hand in Texas. In 2005, Pedro Sr. landed a job with Cargill working on the processing floor at the Friona beef plant. The job offered a good, steady paycheck and allowed the Ramos family to put down roots in the small cattle town in the Texas Panhandle.

In 2006, Pedro became the first member of his family to graduate from high school, and in 2007, he enrolled at West Texas A&M University, intent on earning a college degree. During summer vacations, he worked part time at Cargill, first sweeping the processing floor and, over four summers, experiencing most other jobs at the plant.

After he graduated from college, Cargill offered Ramos a full-time job as an operations associate. During the following 18 months, he learned all facets of the business, from procurement and processing to specialized cutting and shipping. When a job in HR opened up, plant management immediately thought of Pedro.

“Pedro has an extra gear,” said Matt Leu, Cargill’s Friona plant manager. “He has never taken anything for granted and never expected anything to be given to him. He knows he needs to put himself in positions to gain experience and learn new things. He understands when he demonstrates the behaviors needed for leadership, he will get opportunities.”

Today, when Ramos walks the floor in Friona, employees shout greetings to him, and he replies—sometimes in English, frequently in Spanish—always with his trademark ear-to-ear smile. His colleagues are genuinely happy that “one of their own” moved from the floor to the front office.

“[It is] so important to have a Pedro,” Leu says. “He has an ability to engage folks and quickly establish trust. People open up to him and give honest feedback. His ability to get that is phenomenal. With his skills and education, he can take that and convert it into actions that enable the plant to be more successful.”

In his role in HR, Ramos represents Cargill at those same college career fairs where he was once a student anxious and uncertain about his future. He likes to tell the students about the opportunities Cargill has afforded him and about all he has learned working with a huge global agribusiness. “When someone treats you well, you want to talk about it,” Ramos says. “The students I talk to are looking for the same opportunities I wanted when I was in their shoes. They want to know what Cargill offers. For me to get to vocalize all the opportunities is amazing.”

“This company cares about you, they care about your development and your engagement. If you work hard, you can go anywhere you want to.”— Pedro Ramos, Assistant Manager of Human Relations, Cargill

Now, ten years later, working at Cargill is a family affair: Ramos’ father is still there. His mother, Rosa, has started on the processing floor, and his brother Omar and sister Anayeli also work at the beef plant.

When asked to describe his feelings about the opportunities he has had at Cargill, Pedro at once turns thoughtful—and very humble: “When I think about Cargill Friona, when I think about our employees, about my family, and about all the support [I have] received, I have nothing but gratitude and excitement. The journey [I have] taken with the love of this facility is something [I will] never be able to find the words to describe.”