‘The person comes first’: Elanco leadership consultant seeks to help people make the most of their endeavors

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Becky Fouard is a global leadership and development consultant for Elanco Animal Health, where she’s worked for nine years.

GREENFIELD — Training via video with colleagues in Asia. Encouragement to a gym member in a first workout. Podcasting with a fellow personal coach about personality types, goals and other topics.

To an outside observer, they could seem like different pursuits. To Becky Fouard, they’re all about developing people.

Fouard works on the talent development team at Elanco, one of three global facilitators training people in leadership.

She was a college student when she first visited Hancock County, part of a team of 2007-2008 national FFA officers visiting Elanco.

“I would not be at Elanco, and I wouldn’t be in Indiana, if it wasn’t for FFA,” she said. “It definitely equipped me with soft skills like leadership and communication,” as well as confidence “to go for different roles and have some different experiences with my career.”

She grew up on a hobby farm in Kansas and was already serving as a state FFA officer there, juggling two days a week of classes at Kansas State University with other weekdays and weekends available for officer appearances and other duies. Then she became the national FFA secretary and took a year away from college, visiting 35 states and Japan during that whirlwind year.

It was a year of intensive speech and facilitation training, of meeting many different types of people and seeing her view of agriculture expand as she met, for example, people who raised worms or worked with trees.

“That one year was … like a playground of growth,” she said.

It was also a glimpse of things to come. During that year, Fouard visited Elanco in Greenfield. Though she would land a job after college in the Kansas department of agriculture, marketing Kansas products, she remembered what she’d seen when someone told her of a job opening at Elanco.

“The feeling I got from the people I met there and the culture stood out,” she recalls.

When she was offered a job, she was two months from getting married. Yet husband Tristan also embraced moving from Kansas to Indiana.

In addition to finding a new job, he began coaching Cross Fit in the evenings. The couple eventually opened a gym, M4G CrossFit. M4G stands for “Made for Greatness.”

Knowing people were intimidated by CrossFit, “One of the things we were intentional about was talking about the culture of our gym,” Fouard said, such as being happy for each other and celebrating effort. She remembers a day when, while recognizing some gym members who were living out such ideals, one woman became emotional and said she’d never won an award before.

Matt Grills remembers the day he showed up at M4G as someone totally new to gyms. He was in his mid-40s and trying to prioritize his health, but he didn’t really know how to put together a workout. Fouard guided him through that first workout and helped him feel more at ease. Over time he went from being a guy who’d never picked up a barbell to running his first half marathon last year.

“Becky has this very unique ability to see a person’s potential,” Grills said. “… She can make you see that you are progressing, that you are growing.”

“She will kick your butt in a workout but at the same time make you feel great,” another gym member, Andrew Smiley, said. “We don’t go to the gym because … it’s got nice equipment. People go because of the culture Becky and her husband, Tristan, have established there.”

Yet people’s aspirations may encompass more than their physical fitness. Fouard had met Ashleyne Seitz through CrossFit before the start of the gym.

“We pretty quickly realized we had shared passion for leadership and for helping people,” Seitz said.

They set out to offer personal coaching, but the COVID quarantine hit around the time they were launching. So they shifted gears, starting a podcast and coaching small groups over Zoom in that season. Today, their On the Rise business offers leadership and professional coaching, training and workshops, and keynotes — and they continue to release new episodes of their Living Box-Free podcast.

“Becky cares about everything she does, and it’s always about the people first,” Seitz said. “The person comes first before any task.”

“She is just wise beyond her years,” Grills said. “We are all richer for having her … as a role model and an example.”