On the last page of every issue of Industry West, we find a Saskatchewan businessperson or leader to answer our version of the Proust Questionnaire. Marcel Proust made the questionnaire famous, believing that 35 specific questions could reveal a person’s true nature. We grabbed this idea—you’ve probably seen it in Vanity Fair—and made our own version. The first five questions are ours, and then we ask our subject to pick their favourite Proust questions to answer.
Say hello to Alanna Koch – current board chair at the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS), farmer, and Saskatchewan agriculture advocate.
1. Where are you from? Edenwold, Saskatchewan
2. Where did you attend school and what did you study? I attended the College of Agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan.
3. What is your career history? Now a farmer, consultant and board member of several organizations including Chair of the Board of Directors for the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS) as well as Chair of the CN Agricultural Advisory Council and board member of SeedMaster Manufacturing; most recently with the Government of Saskatchewan as the Deputy Minister to the Premier and just prior to that, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture; before that, several years in leadership roles in the agriculture industry including President of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance and Executive Director of the Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association; I started my career in senior political advisor roles with the Government of Saskatchewan.
4. What’s the best piece of business or career advice you have or have been given? Be authentic no matter where you are or who you’re with; be the same person whether you’re at work, at home or in your community—if you’re true to yourself and others this way, people will know you’re genuine and you’ll build trust and have greater positive impact in your professional world and in your life.
5. What’s your favourite thing about Saskatchewan? I love that Saskatchewan surprises people! People are always impressed with our vast size and our global reach by being giants in agriculture, resources and innovation. Visitors to our beautiful province are amazed at the diversity of our landscape—from lakes to sandhills, the wide-open prairie to the Cypress Hills and the Big Muddy, and the warm welcome, whether you’re in one of Saskatchewan’s quaint small communities or in one of our lively cities.
6. What is your idea of perfect happiness? Spending time with family relaxing—could be at our farm or may be on a lovely holiday somewhere. I cherish the time we can spend together!
7. What is your greatest fear? I worry that people don’t understand how farmers sustainably produce safe, quality, nutritious, affordable food for Canadians and the world—and my greatest fear is that this misunderstanding and/or misinformation will influence governments to regulate away tools and technology, resulting in the agriculture industry not being allowed to feed Canada and the world. This is why my role with GIFS is so important to me. GIFS connects agriculture stakeholders (farmers, governments, industry, researchers, etc.) to help ensure we’re involving all perspectives to deliver innovative and sustainable solutions for food security.
8. What or who is the greatest love of your life? My husband, Gerry Hertz, is the greatest love of my life. We’ve been happily married for almost 35 years and we hope there’s another 35 ahead of us!
9. When and where were you happiest? I’m happiest on our farm at Edenwold. I love our home and our yard. I find my inspiration there and I can always find peace and quiet.
10. What is your motto? Be present—be present in the moment you’re in, the people you’re with, the work you’re doing.