How a Love for Agriculture Led to a Surprising Auditing Career

Published: Jun 18, 2024

When Tera Smith was growing up, they knew they’d work in agriculture – what was a surprise was that it would be in...Internal Audit! Thanks to the support of several people willing to take a chance on Tera along the way, they now have the chance to travel the US meeting with colleagues at our Retail branches to help run our business the right way, every day.

What does a “Manager, Internal Audit” do?

Talking about what I do for a living always makes me laugh because when the word “auditor” comes out of my mouth, it is common for people to have a physical reaction. I like to say that I get paid to be nosey. Technically, the role of internal audit is to provide independent assurance that an organization’s risk management, governance, and internal control processes are operating effectively. My team focuses on the Retail business unit and performs audits around Retail corporate processes and field operations in North America, LatAm, and Australia. I’ve had the opportunity to visit many Retail locations across the US as well as Brazil and Argentina.  

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is being seen as a trusted partner of our Retail field employees. There are various reasons why our team goes out into the field and engages with our employees, but receiving emails and phone calls from people reaching out because I made an impression and they trusted that I could help, is very meaningful to me. I also need to highlight the fact that my work out in the field has provided me with the opportunity to build some strong personal and professional relationships.

Did you always see yourself working in agriculture?

Absolutely. My family is from east Texas where you are surrounded by crops and dairy farms. I was always obsessed with horses and livestock, and I thought I wanted to be a large animal vet when I got older. I was heavily involved in FFA in high school where I participated in everything including showing sheep and cattle. I graduated high school convinced I would become an ag teacher.

How did your career path lead you to Nutrien?

I graduated from college with a degree in agriculture and had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up because I realized the ag teacher path was not for me. I knew I wanted to be in the ag industry, so I applied for multiple jobs at a poultry company based in east Texas. Thanks to a kind individual passing along my resume and a manager willing to give someone without experience a chance, I got the job even though I never, technically, applied. I started out auditing the company’s ingredients and packaging vendors, moved into Internal Audit, Treasury, and then back to Internal Audit. An Internal Audit role opened at a Nutrien legacy company, and despite not having the typical degree that would be considered for the role, I encountered another individual that was willing to give me a chance for which I will forever be grateful. I have been with Nutrien for 10 years now and have been with Internal Audit the entire time.

How do you think Employee Resource Groups (ERG) help employees to succeed and benefit the company overall?

I can speak from personal experience to the benefit of Employee Resource Groups. My involvement in the Pride ERG has fundamentally changed how I navigate my personal and professional life and has provided amazing opportunities to give back to my community. When people feel both physically and psychologically safe, they will bring so much more to the table, and ERG’s are working to help the company create and strengthen that type of environment.

image-20240618124127-1What is a fun fact about you that people may not know?

My partner says it’s the fact that I jump in puddles like a 5-year-old. Running is my meditation, and when I first started running, I avoided puddles because I hated wet socks. After getting into triathlons, I learned to deal with wet socks and took every opportunity to jump in water on my runs. I will walk into the Poudre River, with my socks and shoes on, in the middle of a run, and I am not opposed to jumping into slushy puddles in the middle of winter. Water just makes me happy.