“Successful” is an understatement when it comes to the career of Alumni, Jason Shell, BS ’98 poultry science with a minor in Agricultural Economics. Today, Shell serves Keystone Foods as U.S. Proteins Vice President of Food Safety and Quality Assurance. Though his position carries significant responsibilities in his day-to-day duties, work doesn’t hold him back from enjoying ‘the good life.’
Shell is directly responsible for the Food Safety & Quality Assurance of all products produced within the USA Proteins Group. His daily responsibilities include developing strategic direction for programs and maintaining excellent customer relationships.
RESPONSIBILITY AND BALANCE
“We’re responsible for the food safety and quality of about 800 million pounds of beef, chicken and fish produced annually,” Shell said, “we’re also responsible for supporting Global FSQA Plans and activities through our active participation in the Global FSQA Counsel”
He also supports operations by providing direction that ensures compliance with all customer requirements and applicable federal, state and local food regulations.
Shell’s work directly impacts the lives of consumers across the country every day. His position contributes to a safer food supply and helps regulate the continual high standards of the food industry in America. But this work is just ‘what he does.’
“I’m an extremely driven person and I love to be around other people, especially positive, uplifting types of personalities,” Shell adds, “I also enjoy life – I like old muscle cars, hunting and playing golf.”
Shell contributes much of his professional success to his positive attitude, his work ethic, and the support of his wife. “Without her support, I would not be where I am today,” he said.
LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE IN THE REAL WORLD
Shell’s first-ever promotion left a deep impression on him.
“It seems like it was just yesterday that the opportunity was given to me,” he said, “I vowed then that I would make the most of the opportunity.”
That step eventually led to Keystone Foods offering the position of General Manager to Shell for their brand new Fully Cooked Poultry facility. That opportunity allowed him to demonstrate his management style and commitment to insuring the success of his team, as well as the company.
These moments are monumental in Shell’s career, giving him valuable insight into the administrative side of the industry. As he was able to gain more and more experience, he saw the process of decision making first-hand.
“I realized that the decisions that are made by company leaders are never made overnight. Leaders are truly doing what they feel are in the best interest of the company, their people and their customers,” Shell said, “It’s not as easy as some people can make it look!”
REMEMBERING THE AUBURN ‘GLORY DAYS’
Shell’s first ever exposure to poultry science came from his high school Agriculture teacher. Providing support and encouragement, his teacher convinced him that a great career in his field awaited, and also provided help on scholarships that would support his college education.
“Mr. Todd then asked me to come work on his poultry farm after school and through the summer months, which peaked my interest further,” he said.
With great networking and hard work, Jason secured enough scholarship money to make his Auburn education a reality. He was awarded the Wayne & Nadine McEltrath scholarship by Lyn Calhoun in a graduation recognition service at his church, to his complete surprise.
“That scholarship would cover full tuition and books for four years,” he said, “I owe everything to God, Mr. Wayne and Nadine McElrath’s support, and my family for allowing me the great opportunity to prove that I was capable of attending Auburn University and one day making a great career out of their investment!”
The strong education Shell received from the Department of Poultry Science prepared him to enter the industry after graduation.
“I was the only person in my graduating class to choose to work at a processing plant after graduation,” he said, “at that time, the curriculum prepared us for the field side of the business, now I think it does a good job of preparing for field work and professional work.”
Shell’s career goals are to continue providing strong leadership to his coworkers and colleagues.
“Title means nothing, it’s about being a true leader and driving to be the best person I can be each and every day.” He said.
For the past seven years, Jason has been part of the Talladega Superspeedway family during race weekend. He now has the opportunity to work with the Director of Public Relations, Russell Branham, to help manage the media center during race week twice a year.
As a big NASCAR fan, this experience has been special to Jason, “I’ve been able to meet many of the drivers, football coaches, and several celebrities,” he said, “I’ve also gained a lot of experience helping to manage the media center.
ADVICE FOR STUDENTS:
“Study hard,” he shared, “College is all about you! YOU have to make the choices that lead to your success,” he said.
“Work hard, play hard, but always work to find that career path that makes you happy. If you’re not happy – it makes things a lot harder to move forward in your career.”
SHOUT OUTS & ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:
“I’d like to say ‘thank you’ to all the faculty members of the Auburn University Department of Poultry Science. Each and every one of them during my time there truly cared about my success and me as a person,” he said, “They were always willing and able to talk and give advice based on their experiences.”
FAVORITE AUBURN MEMORY:
“My favorite Auburn memory,” he said, “[it was] playing intramural sports with my old high school buddies and rivalries!”