Devry Boughner Vorwerk | Influence 100
Charting the future of public relations
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Devry Boughner Vorwerk

Corporate VP, Global Corporate Affairs
Cargill
US

 

 

Following the departure of veteran CCO Mike Fernandez in 2016, Cargill turned to its former star lobbyist and vice president of corporate affairs Devry Boughner Vorwerk to lead the company’s global corporate affairs function.

As a privately-held company, Cargill had not always been subject to the same level of scrutiny as its publicly-traded peers. But with 150,000 employees in 67 countries, and a major role in the world’s food supply, it was clear that the company needed to embrace increased transparency rather than resisting it. Vorwerk has built on the good work that began under Fernandez and she is “passionate about advancing the company’s vision and purpose to be the leader in nourishing the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way,” according to chairman and CEO David MacLennan.

Most recently, Cargill — which hails sustainability as a priority —  has come under pressure after announcing that its self-imposed 2020 deadline for ending deforestation in Brazil and other parts of South America would be missed.

Vorwerk had previously been with Cargill for 12 years, managing Asia Pacific trade and investment policy, international government relations, and corporate affairs for Latin America. She left in early 2016 to join Akin Gump, a Washington DC-based law firm, where she was a senior policy advisor in the firm’s public law and policy practice. Prior to her original stint at Cargill, Vorwerk worked at the US International Trade Commission.

Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?
Pushing for tax reform bill changes that would have shuttered our business. We lined up a sophisticated PR strategy to move public policy in the right direction.

What do you love about this industry?
I love the people and the community. We care for one another and for each other’s success. Also, we love to celebrate each other!

What most frustrates you about this industry?
Some egos.

What are the communications industry's biggest challenges and opportunities?
Challenges: keeping up with technology, the good and bad sides of it. Opportunities: to become one of the most strategic players in the C-suite.

How do you relax or change pace when you're not at work?
Yoga, kids, family.

Can you share a book/movie/TV show/podcast that teaches a valuable lesson about PR?
I’m reading “Community” by Peter Block; I believe that communications must become local and personal to win hearts and minds on issues.

If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
A yoga instructor. Or an international economics professor. Or a local farmer and beekeeper.