Leader Profile: Paul Hammes

Paul E. Hammes

Vice President and General Manager Agricultural Products | Union Pacific Railroad 

Alma Matter: University of Wisconsin, Madison: Bachelor of Science Agricultural Economics

Where did you grow up and where do you live now?: 
I grew up in LaCrosse, WI and relocated 10 times during my career with Cargill and Union Pacific. I currently reside in Omaha, NE.

What does your current role currently entail? 
I'm responsible to develop and execute the strategy for Union Pacific's agricultural portfolio. I need to align this strategy with Union Pacific's overall strategy of creating customer and shareholder value through safety, service and performance. It's very important that I communicate and lead effectively so my team understands that alignment. 

What is the biggest professional challenge you have overcome? 
After 25 years with Cargill I made a significant career change by moving to a new industry and company. The challenge was to develop credibility and establish my leadership style with a new team of very experienced employees with a different organizational structure and business model. I believe I was successful by showing a willingness to listen, learn and value my team's knowledge and experience. It made it much easier to develop a sound strategy that our team understood and supported. 

What advice do you have for young professionals motivated to lead?
Get involved and look for opportunities to be accountable. When you are accountable for a whole project or just a sub task, by owning it you get the opportunity to lead. Take on the risk of failure to keep growing.

How do you balance your personal and professional life?
With all the moves we have made over time, my family has learned to depend on one another for strength and support. Its made us a strong unit and helps create that balance.

What is one of your habits that has helped shaped your professional career positively?
I've always kept physical fitness as a priority despite some health challenges. Focusing on fitness creates discipline and endurance which translated into good work habits for me. It also creates personal satisfaction and provides an energy boost each day.
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