Markets, data, and love for people… the perfect role for Virginia Tech alumna
“I knew Virginia Tech is where I would go to college,” said Adeline Douglas (formerly Guthrie). After moving to the Shenandoah Valley when she was eight years old, she quickly became involved with 4H and FFA (Future Farmers of America). Douglas also had an entrepreneurial spirit about her even at a young age. She started her own business raising goats. “I have always loved agriculture,” so I started with three goats that I took to the county fair and sold. I bought more and then started breeding.
It was through her affiliations with 4H and FFA, coupled with her entrepreneurial mindset that Douglas was introduced to Virginia Tech.
After high school, an opportunity came along that she could not pass up. Douglas took a gap year before starting college when she was elected as secretary to the FFA state office. In this role, Douglas facilitated workshops and conferences on teamwork, leadership, and personal growth in middle and high schools across the state of Virginia. She also communicated with state and national legislators, representatives, and industry leaders all while advocating for agriculture.
After her time with FFA, it was a natural transition to Virginia Tech.
“My time at Virginia Tech both inside and outside the classroom, provided me with the tools that I use today,” said Douglas.
She recalls with a chuckle, “I remember talking with my advisor about the different tracks/classes that I should take. She had suggested ‘Futures and Options.’ I told my advisor that I didn’t think I needed this class because I was familiar with different options I had for a future career in agriculture.” Her advisor had to set Douglas straight on what the class was really about. “I am glad that she did,” said Douglas.
During her freshman year, she wanted to get involved with a student organization and heard about COINS (Commodity Investing by Students at Virginia Tech). The organization invests real money and participates in live trading. "As a naturally competitive person, I was intrigued by COINS and recognized it as a great opportunity to learn and grow. After a rigorous application and interview process, I was accepted as one of the youngest members, and one of the first females in the organization, which I am still very proud of to this day!" Douglas applies the critical skills she learned in analyzing markets and the soft skills of how people communicate differently in all of the roles that she has had.
After college, Douglas worked for Smithfield Foods as a commodities hedge accounting analyst, with whom she interned the previous year. After this role, she worked for Kraft Heinz Company as a customer sales analyst and global commodity risk management senior analyst.
Today, she is an associate for commodity sales for Rabobank, with over 43,000 employees in 37 countries the cooperative bank focuses on entrepreneurs and companies in the food and agriculture sectors.
Working for Rabobank is a perfect fit for Douglas. “I love markets and I love data, but without the human aspect, those things don’t mean nearly as much. I’m grateful that in my current role, I get to lean into all three of those passions.”
In this role, she is the liaison between clients and traders. Douglas works with large farmers, farming cooperatives, and corporate agricultural companies. She works to understand what each client’s risk exposures are, as well as their appetite for risk, and how they prefer to manage it.
Douglas gets to study markets and develop hedging strategies with her clients to help them manage their risks and protect their margins.
In addition to the success she has experienced at Smithfield Foods, Kraft Heinz Company, and now at Rabobank, Douglas gives back to Virginia Tech, specifically to the COINS program which she holds dear to her heart. “Generosity is very important to me. Some people don't feel like they have enough, but whether you're giving money or your time, I think that that often leads to some of the greatest fulfillment. There's something very freeing to be able to give and serve other people.”
In addition to giving back, for her it’s about inspiring and mentoring others, just as she had done at Virginia Tech as an RA. Her advice to students… “Anytime a decision comes up that has to be made, remind yourself that it is not the final decision you will ever have to make. As you grow throughout your career and throughout life, there will be many decisions to make, but use your education, your resources, and your community to help determine the next right step for you at the time.”
Douglas encourages students to do a variety of internships. “It's a great opportunity to get a little taste of a lot of different things early on before you begin your career.”
By Melissa Vidmar
February 15, 2023, marks Virginia Tech’s Giving Day. Donations to the COINS program will help the organization continue to provide essential educational programs and events for students whether it is attending an industry conference, participating in a professional networking trip, or upgrading data resources and technology.
Alumnus Greg Estep ’83, retired Managing Director and CEO of Spices for the largest industrial spice company in the world, Olam Food Ingredients, is conducting a 25/$2,500 Challenge. Once COINS receives 25 donations on Giving Day, he will donate $2,500.
Be on the lookout in February for the Giving Day link.