Why I Chose FBN®: Alex Bergonia, Director of Strategy & Operations for FBN Financial

Melissa Niedrich

Mar 17, 2022

Our ‘Why I Chose FBN’ series features stories from employees across different roles, teams, and geographies on how they got to FBN, what it’s like to work here, and how their teams help fulfill our mission of putting Farmers First®.

When did you join FBN, what is your current role at FBN, where are you based, and what are your responsibilities? 

I joined FBN in May 2020 after graduating from business school. I currently lead the Strategy and Operations team for FBN Financial and have the pleasure of working with 5 fabulous colleagues on my team.

The Strategy and Operations team works across our finance, crop insurance, crop marketing, commercial services, sustainability, and merchandising businesses.

We are focused on supporting our General Managers and cross functional partners to drive operational efficiencies, identify and implement growth opportunities and so much more! I am based in San Francisco, California.

What was your previous work experience before joining FBN

Prior to business school, I worked in the impact investing space. I started my career at an asset management firm; I was excited about building values-aligned portfolios for high net-worth individuals, institutions, and foundations.

I then worked for an impact investing consulting firm. Through these experiences, I became interested in the real assets space (water, forestry, agriculture) and innovative ways to fund new business models in these areas.

When I started business school, I thought I wanted to be a real assets investor and run a farmland or timber fund.

However, when the time came to make a decision about what was next, I looked back on my career and realized I was most energized by my brief stint in Kenya working for a forestry start-up.

I loved being entrenched in the day-to-day of building something new and all of the challenges and successes that come with growing a company.  I was excited to find that FBN checked so many of these boxes for me. 

What did you first find compelling about FBN that led you to want to learn more? 

I was first introduced to FBN through an MBA consulting project I did for one of our investors. I wrote a white paper on FBN’s investment in AgriSecure - a company focused on helping farmers make the transition to organic.

I got to know more about FBN’s mission through this project. I was very inspired by the breadth and depth of FBN’s products and services all focused on empowering farmers and driving increased profitability for their operations.

Why did you ultimately decide to join FBN? What did this thought process look like for you? 

I started talking to Berkeley alums at FBN. I was really excited about the opportunity to work with Devin Lammers (President of FBN Financial) to grow our Financial products and services.

I knew it was the right fit because the people I met were humble, incredibly driven, intelligent, and had a clear vision of how FBN could make an impact in the agriculture space - now and in ten years.

I was energized by the opportunity to mix both strategy and operations, and help execute on our very ambitious growth goals. The role also gives me exposure to our sales, marketing, product, and data teams so I’m always learning!

Now that you’ve joined, how would you describe FBN’s culture and what it’s like to work here? 

The thing I like most about FBN is how ‘flat’ the organization feels. I truly believe that anyone - no matter their level - can champion and drive the implementation of good ideas.

You have access to senior leadership and subject matter experts to drive innovation and that keeps FBN's culture very entrepreneurial. 

What kind of impact are you and your team having on the company’s future? 

On our team, no day is the same! I would say the biggest impact we have day-to-day is providing additional visibility to data and metrics that drive decision-making.

For example, my team has been working on building out a set of OKRs for FBN Financial and corresponding dashboards which help our leadership team understand the success of our various sales, product and marketing efforts.

We have additional impact in helping stand up new product and service offerings across our various businesses. 

 How does FBN’s mission come to life in your day-to-day work? How does your work positively impact famers? 

We’re constantly thinking about new ways to creatively support the lives of farmers. Whether this means offering them interest rate discounts for sustainability practices, exploring new offerings to service livestock producers, or identifying new markets - there’s always an idea on the horizon that is focused on improving farmer livelihoods. 

We know you have a life outside of work - what kinds of things do you do for fun? 

I love the outdoors and I’m constantly looking for an excuse to hike, bike or swim - ideally with my black lab puppy, Gilly, and my partner, Brian. 

What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone considering FBN

Don’t be afraid to show your willingness to pitch-in on any type of work - whether it’s below or above your pay grade.

Our teams thrive because there is a culture of collective success and you will be rewarded for hard work, good ideas, and collaboration.

I have consistently felt acknowledged for my work and, as a result, continue to get opportunities to grow within the organization.

Learn more about joining FBN

Interested in learning more about FBN and opportunities to join our team?

Check out our Careers page for more information on open roles and how we’re transforming the future of farming!

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Melissa Niedrich

Mar 17, 2022

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