August 18, 2022


Food for all time.

How Cargill IT is helping to solve the world’s food problems

6 min read

Justin Kershaw held his first CIO position nearly 25 years ago, at W.L. Gore, a specialty materials manufacturer, currently with $3.7 billion in revenue. Later, he spent six years as a divisional CIO at Eaton before joining Cargill as CIO of the food ingredients business, and global IT operations leader. He ascended to his role as Corporate Vice President and CIO in 2015.

Based on revenue ($114 billion), Cargill is the largest privately held corporation in the U.S. If it were a public company, Cargill would rank number 25 on the 2020 Fortune 500 list, just above Bank of America and right below Fannie Mae. While Cargill, along with other large food producers, has been the subject of criticism related to worker safety and coronavirus outbreaks at several of its meat processing facilities in the U.S and Canada, the company is laser focused on using technology to improve global sustainability and reduce food production problems.

During a recent Zoom call with Kershaw, we discussed IT’s role in innovation, change management, and product engineering. We also discussed the qualities that Kershaw looks for in his senior team. What follows is an edited version of our interview.

Martha Heller: How do you describe your role as CIO of Cargill?

Justin Kershaw: My job has three components: the first is to be a thought leader in applying technology to help solve the world’s biggest food challenges, both for Cargill and for the industry; second is to make sure we invest in the right technologies for the right return; third is to be an operational leader for the entirety of the corporation.

In my opinion, the technology organization, if it is run right, should be the primary driver of change in a company. What we do in IT is more about change and outcomes than about technology.

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