Youye song is a Rising star in Fresh produce, thanks to career pathways

With a bachelor’s degree in food science from Cornell University, an Executive Marketing Strategies certification from Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management and fluency in three languages, Youye Song could have landed a great job in any industry. She chose the fresh produce field.

Center for Growing Talent by PMA’s Career Pathways program provided her road map. As a college senior, she attended Fresh Summit in 2013 as one of that year’s Career Pathways students. In just a few days, she had connected with seven potential employers including Mayrsohn International Trading Co. Inc. in Miami, FL, which she joined as an Account Executive after graduating.

Youye is truly a rising star in the industry: Her work with Mayrsohn took her to three different locations on three continents, and in 2015 she was named by Produce Business as one of its “40 Under Forty” leaders, at age 26 the youngest winner ever. Currently, she’s a Senior Sales Executive at Robinson Fresh, based in Shanghai, China. She’s responsible for developing and managing business for Robinson Fresh in the Asia Pacific region, expand and optimize international supply chains, and providing business analysis that informs the company’s strategic direction.

Crediting Career Pathways for introducing her to the fresh produce industry, Youye says she most likely would have been recruited by a consumer product company or marketing service provider. “Even studying in one the best agriculture schools in the U.S., I wasn't aware that produce is an inclusive industry that recruited graduating students, and I didn’t know what kind of jobs were available,” she says. 

Her experience at Fresh Summit cemented her commitment to the field. And Youye also recognizes Kristen Reid, who volunteered as her Career Ambassador and mentor: “She is just wonderful, a role model that I constantly look up to. Her gracefulness and effectiveness in communications are great qualities that influenced me so much.” 

It also taught her that the fresh produce industry is built on warm business relationships. “Career Pathways brought me into this industry, and the people I met became the reason that I stayed,” she says. “They say this is a ‘hug industry’ and it is true. I cannot think of another industry that offers firmer handshakes or more bear hugs.” 

Youye is eager to pay it forward, inspired by Kristen to volunteer and help attract other talented young professionals. She has participated as a peer mentor with Career Pathways, showing other future leaders that the produce and floral industry offers tons of career potential. “This business is absolutely the right place if you like to work with the coolest and most down-to-earth people in a dynamic, fast paced, fun and international environment,” she says. “Great people, healthy food, beautiful flowers, and endless growth opportunities—what’s not to like about it?”