MPS program coming to a campus near you!

Tom Info Session
MPS Program Manager Tom Johnson presents to students at the UC Merced Graduate School Fair on October 22.

MPS Program Manger Tom Johnson is getting around over the next couple of months.

Johnson recently attended graduate school fairs at New Mexico State University, University of California Santa Cruz and University of California Merced. Next week, he will attend fairs at:

California State University Bakersfield
November 3, 11 am – 3 pm

UC Santa Barbara
November 4, 10 am – 2 pm

UC Irvine
November 5, 10 am – 2 pm




In the next couple of months, Johnson will offer MPS program information sessions at:

  • University of California – Berkeley
  • University of California – Davis
  • California State University – Fresno
  • California State University – Chico
  • California State University – Stanislaus
  • Oregon State University
  • University of Idaho
  • Washington State University
  • University of Minnesota
  • University of Illinois
  • Purdue University
  • Iowa State University
  • University of Iowa
  • Michigan State University
  • University of Wisconsin
  • Clemson University
  • North Carolina State University
  • University of Florida
  • Texas A&M
  • University of Georgia
  • Louisiana State University
  • Colorado State University
  • Kansas State University
  • Utah State University
  • University of Nebraska
  • University of Missouri
  • Ohio State University
  • Penn State University
  • Cornell University

Students interested in prearranging a meeting can contact Mr. Johnson at (970) 215-3459 or



Field Trip to Maddox Dairy

Maddox 2 MPS students today visited Maddox Dairy, one of the largest registered dairy farming operations in the country. With over 12,000 U.S. Holstein cows, the dairy is a major supplier of milk to California Dairy Inc.’s processing operations.

The students’ tour was led by dairy general manager Juan Garcia and included visits to the milking parlor, calf sheds, maternity barn, and feed mixing station.

“You have to know what happens at the plant,” said MPS student Bharath Bollapu. “But you also have to know where it starts. Without knowing how the milk is produced, how the animals are treated, it’s harder to know what you have in the plant.”

Bollapu, a graduate of India’s Institute of Dairy Technology, was pleased with what he saw. “No product is better than the source from which it’s made, and this is obviously a good source.”

For MPS student Daphne Yu, the highlight of the tour was watching the calf-birthing process. With more than 3,800 milking cows at the dairy, the farm experiences an average of 10 births per day.

“It is a beautifal memory,” said Yu. “That’s the first time I have seen that, and I couldn’t have imagined it.”

Yu said the scale of the dairy is similar to what she witnessed in her native China. Indian student Atul Chitale agrees but was surprised by the breadth of the facilities.

Maddox Dairy General Manager Juan Garcia explains the record-keeping process used by the dairy to monitor and track newborn calves.

“They have a nursery, a maternity ward, areas for experienced cows, a special mastitis area. It was very impressive.”

Other students were impressed with the farm’s focus on sustainability.  All solid and liquid waste is recycled, and unused feed is repurposed.  A five-acre solar farm generates 70 percent of the farm’s energy requirements.

Garcia finished the tour with a discussion of his role as manager of the dairy’s 65 employees. He addressed employee motivation, conflict resolution, and retention.

“My dad used to tell me, ‘every mind is another universe,’ said Garcia. “I have found this applies to employee management. What works to motivate one employee doesn’t work for another. You need to apply the right technique for each person.”



What is leadership anyway?

We speak a lot about how the MPS program was created to train students for leadership roles in the dairy processing industry. But what is leadership?  As it turns out, this is not an easy question to answer.

A few years ago, New York Times best-selling author Kevin Kruse wrote a piece for Forbes, in which he deconstructed some of the prevailing definitions of leadership. Afterward, he offered his own definition, which hits as close to the mark as any I’ve seen. See the complete article here:

From Kruse’s article:

  • Leadership has nothing to do with seniority or one’s position in the hierarchy of a company.
  • Leadership has nothing to do with titles.
  • Leadership has nothing to do with personal attributes.
  • Leadership isn’t management.

Let’s see how some of the most respected business thinkers of our time define leadership, and let’s consider what’s wrong with their definitions.

Peter Drucker: “The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers.”
Really? This instance of tautology is so simplistic as to be dangerous. A new Army Captain is put in the command of 200 soldiers. He never leaves his room, or utters a word to the men and women in his unit. Perhaps routine orders are given through a subordinate. By default his troops have to “follow” orders. Is the Captain really a leader? Commander yes, leader no. Drucker is of course a brilliant thinker of modern business but his definition of leader is too simple.

Warren Bennis: “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”
Every spring you have a vision for a garden, and with lots of work carrots and tomatoes become a reality. Are you a leader? No, you’re a gardener. Bennis’ definition seems to have forgotten “others.”

Bill Gates: “As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”
This definition includes “others” and empowerment is a good thing. But to what end? I’ve seen many empowered “others” in my life, from rioting hooligans to Google workers who were so misaligned with the rest of the company they found themselves unemployed. Gates’ definition lacks the parts about goal or vision.

John Maxwell: “Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.”
I like minimalism but this reduction is too much. A robber with a gun has “influence” over his victim. A manager has the power to fire team members which provides a lot of influence. But does this influence make a robber or a manager a leader? Maxwell’s definition omits the source of influence.

So what is leadership?

DEFINITION: Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.

Notice key elements of this definition:

  • Leadership stems from social influence, not authority or power
  • Leadership requires others, and that implies they don’t need to be “direct reports”
  • No mention of personality traits, attributes, or even a title; there are many styles, many paths, to effective leadership
  • It includes a goal, not influence with no intended outcome

For more information about the MPS in Dairy Products Technology program, call Program Manager Tom Johnson at (970) 215-3459 or email


MPS Student Haley Imhof Steps Off the Ranch

Haley Imhof PhotoHaley Imhof comes across as a person who understands the meaning of an honest day’s work.

Imhof grew up on her family’s cattle ranch in Pleasanton, California, not far from San Francisco Bay. There they raise 250 head of beef cattle and grow the crops that feed them.

“It was lots of work,” says Imhof. “I didn’t have a lot of free time to myself. I worked with cows all of the time,  moving them from pasture to pasture.”

With the spare time she did have, Imhof found success in 4-H. One of her goats earned Supreme Champion at the Alameda County Fair. She also showed dairy cattle and eventually realized she had more interest in dairy than beef.

When it was time to look at colleges, Imhof settled on studying Animal Science at Chico State. During her senior year, she received an email from her department announcing that a representative from Cal Poly was coming to campus to discuss a new dairy-related Masters program.

“I went to the meeting, and it wasn’t all about raising cattle,” says Imhof. “It was more about what happens after the milk leaves the farm and goes to a plant to be processed. I knew a lot about feeding and milking, but I didn’t know much at all about the processing side. It really interested me to learn more about it.”

In September, Imhof arrived on Cal Poly’s campus with 16 other MPS students to begin a one-year academic journey. The students now spend their days together, taking all of the same classes and attending the same labs. Imhof immediately noticed that her history was different from those of her classmates.

“Everyone has such diverse backgrounds,” says Imhof. “We have people from Food Science, Nutrition, Chemistry, Engineering, Forage – also, where they come from is so varied. I have learned so much by watching how the students from different cultures interact with the instructors and and all of us.”

On her first day in the program, Imhof had the opportunity to speak with representatives of a dozen companies on campus for the the program’s quarterly advisory committee meeting.

“There’s such a great connection between companies and students,” Imhof says. “Almost everyone I talked to was interested in getting a couple of interns for the summer. They were already talking about job opportunities. There doesn’t seem to be a limit – it doesn’t seem possible that we could come out of this program and and not have a job.”

For now, Imhof is focused on her coursework – she says it keeps her on her toes – but she’s anxious to get into the creamery and learn about making cheese. She’s also excited about some upcoming tours of large-scale dairy processing facilities. The class will tour a Leprino Foods mozzarella plant and a Dreyer’s ice cream plant in the coming weeks.

“I have never been in a large plant, only on dairies and farms,” says Imhof.  “I picture them as big and full of machines – and very clean. I hear they’re huge.”

Imhof says she likes San Luis Obispo’s beautiful weather and loves being close to the beach, but there are times when she misses her cows back home in Pleasanton. Fortunately, the university maintains a 250-cow dairy farm across the street from the MPS teaching facility.

“The cows are so close to where our classrooms are – if you want to go hang around with them, they’re right there. It keeps me in touch with my Animal Science side. I might take some of the other students over there and teach them a little about it.”