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CGB Realizes Success in Transportation Sector with Mentoring Program

By Michelle Pelletier Marshall, Women in Agribusiness Media (August 10, 2021) With Laurie Hiler and Cindy Heermann of CGB

Women in Agribusiness is proud to provide key business knowledge to hundreds of women in the sector to help them excel in their careers. We also focus on providing skills that help agribusinesses recruit, retain, and promote women in leadership roles. Many of our supporting companies thrive by practicing these same tenets, one of which being Consolidated Grain & Barge (CGB).

WIA Today asked Laurie Hiler and Cindy Heermann, who are co-project managers and coordinators for the Women’s mentoring program -- Lead, Retain and Grow -- at CGB, to provide their perspective and input on how the program benefits women and the sector, and where WIA fits in.

1). Please tell us more about CBG’s mentoring program.

The Women’s Mentoring Program at Consolidated Grain & Barge (CGB): Lead, Retain and Grow (LRG) is now in its seventh year. The primary objective is to support diversity and inclusion at CGB by focusing on leadership, employee retention, and personal growth for CGB women.

The second objective is to allow both mentor and mentee a chance to see a problem, identify a potential career stumbling point or a CGB objective through a different perspective. By putting a face on issues that an individual or the company is having, it allows both the mentor and mentee to take a broader approach to understanding issues, by having seen it through a different lens.

To accomplish these objectives, we work with a small group of women (maximum of 10) from all areas of the company for one year and match them with an experienced mentor in the company. We focus on five key skills: networking, communication, leadership, CGB structure, and community services.

Once women complete their year of mentoring, they are asked to serve as a mentee advocate for the incoming group, keeping them involved and continuing the networking. The goal is to build a network of women that will continue to be supportive of each other long after the LRG program is completed.

2). What have been the key results of the program?

Some of the key points that we have learned over the years of the program are:

  • Networking is by far one of the best results of the program. Exposure to a wide group of CGB managers over the year opens new doors and opportunities.

  • Having a strong mentor/mentee relationship during the year begins with a good match. Communication at least once a month, and in-person visits at least 1-2 times during the year is key. In order to ensure that these relationships are working well, regular check-ins with both mentors and mentees by the program leaders are necessary.

  • Buy-in and participation from senior leaders is key to making the program a success.

3). How does the Women in Agribusiness Summit factor into this program's success?

One of the ways that we have offered continued opportunities for the LRG women after they have completed the program is attendance at the annual Women in Agribusiness Summit. Each year, two or three of the past LRG mentees have attended the conference to learn more about important issues in ag, as well as network with other women in the industry. The feedback we receive from the women who attend has been overwhelmingly positive.

4). What does the future hold for this program?

We are proud to say that our LRG Program is unique in the ag and transportation industry. Because of that, it is a great recruiting tool for women to join our CGB family. We now have over 60 women that have been through LRG, each of these women continue to support and guide women through their career at CGB. We expect the program to continue to grow and flourish.


Laurie Hiler spent her career in barge transportation trading and logistics. She has worked for Consolidated Grain and Barge (CGB) for over 25 years as well as having her own transportation trading company, Seneca Transportation, for 12 years. Hiler currently serves as co-project manager and coordinator for Lead, Retain and Grow, the Women’s Mentoring Program at CGB.

Cindy Heermann joined Consolidated Grain & Barge in 2011 as a regional HR business partner. Heermann earned a BS in HR/Management from Quincy University and her MA from Webster University. She has worked in several different industries over the last 30 years. Heermann currently serves as co-project manager and coordinator for Lead, Retain and Grow, the Women’s Mentoring Program at CGB.


Do you have a story you'd like to contribute to WIA Today? Or a suggestion for a story, or comments about an article? Please reach out to Michelle Marshall at and share your thoughts. We'd love to hear from you.

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