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Director Candidate Profile - Race 3
4-Year Term

Al Bishop

Al Bishop
Arnold, NE

Birth Year: 1954

Business Experience: After a career in the Army, we retired to a ranch in Arnold, Nebraska where we are growing a herd of black cows. My service included tours as an infantry private, a paratroop commander, an inspector general, and a philosophy instructor at West Point. Since retiring, I have been a consultant for the Army in media relations under contract with Northrop Grumman Corporation, a global security company.

FCSAmerica Business Relationships with Family Members: Ruth Bishop, my spouse

Education: Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Mississippi State University, and Master of Arts in Philosophy from University of Virginia

Current Boards: None

Candidate Description of Business Knowledge and/or Education in the Following Areas:

Strategic Planning: Strategy is an essential military idea. Over thirty years I learned how to discover and weigh the variables of tactical problems against the strategic goal. However, I knew little to nothing about the particulars of a successful cow strategy. We did know that our long-term goal was to leave our boys a chance at life in American agriculture. We made mistakes. We favored quantity over quality with our first cows thinking “good enough” was “good enough” without asking “good enough for what?” We’ve decided that “good enough” cows should go to town and that we should spend a little extra to take care of the herd. We rotate pastures, and we look for the best bulls we can afford. I am still learning the variables of feed and the host of best practices that will produce consistent results.

Corporate Governance/Organizational Leadership: The army is a big outfit. In it I learned to establish reasoned policies, to negotiate bureaucracy, to respect public law, and to inspire soldiers under demanding conditions at U.S. home bases, in Europe, in Africa, and in Afghanistan. As an Arnold, NE School Board Member, our team managed a significant reduction for funding in the Public School because the state recalculated the school-aid formula. On the Arnold Economic Development Board, we built a website that tells the Arnold story, informs its people, and imagines a bright future.

Financial Reporting: My most important reporting experience came through service as an Inspector General. An army headquarters has to demonstrate transparent accountability of resources through official reports up the chain of command to the U.S. Congress. They require the exercise of good judgment and must be right both technically and morally. These same requirements operated in the school and economic development boards.

Business Technology: Our technologies are more powerful than ever. An army headquarters in the field has more than a dozen feeds from drones, satellite trackers, artillery control systems, voice intercept systems, helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft guidance systems, multiple live video feeds and so on. The problem is not having enough information to guide decisions, the problem is harnessing the information to make timely decisions. Successful teams embrace and exploit all systems. This requires the relentless application of both skill and will. It’s not easy.

Risk Management: Risk carries danger, but without it there’s little chance for growth. Manage is the key word. For now, I have adopted a strategy of never again going “all-in,” but see that I cannot build and grow without risks. When starting out, I bit off too much. There was no room to maneuver or absorb hits, and I got lucky. Though slow and small, we make visible progress. From my farm and ranch neighbors I learn that the best risk managers are the best performers. I also learned that time spent being a good neighbor comes back again and again. I have the best neighbors in the world. And we would be nowhere without our FCSAmerica partners. We depend on another. We are vulnerable.

Human Resource Management: First and last, human capital is capital writ large. Military commanders are human beings, and their personal ambition can occlude good judgment. The best military units begin all deliberations, design all systems, and measure all successes in human terms. At the bottom of all this is dignity. Units with a culture built around promoting the dignity of every soldier invariably perform to a higher standard than those focused on other objectives. Respect for others has to be “baked-in” the culture.