New Agribusiness and Food Innovation Management program hires industry liaison

Bald man wearing a suitLaston Charriez, an educator, marketing executive and food industry veteran, has joined Colorado State University’s College of Agricultural Sciences as an assistant professor of practice and industry liaison for the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics’ new Agribusiness and Food Innovation master’s degree program. In addition to teaching the marketing courses for the program – based out of CSU’s Spur campus in Denver – Charriez is tasked with building strong ties between agribusiness and food industry leaders and CSU’s students, programs and facilities at Spur. 

“Laston sees Spur as an opportunity to go places we haven’t yet imagined and to bring ideas to the table that aren’t here yet,” said James Pritchett, Dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Director of the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station. “His unique combination of industry experiences and existing relationships will drive this program forward and ensure that we are developing tomorrow’s leaders while serving both industry and our communities.” 

With nearly 30 years of experience working for brands like Procter & Gamble, Sara Lee, Western Union and Pilgrim’s, Charriez brings strong industry connections to his new role. His global marketing leadership experience includes brand-building, integrated marketing, digital and eCommerce, and innovation across multiple sectors. Charriez holds a bachelor’s degree and an MBA in management marketing from Purdue University. 

“I am thrilled to be joining Colorado State University at a pivotal time,” Charriez says. “The global agriculture community is becoming increasingly aware of the needs and opportunities presented by growing integrated environmental and social challenges, and our program will equip students to innovate and co-create solutions to address these challenges.” 

Learning by Creating Value

Charriez joins professors and co-leads Greg Graff and Greg Perry in integrating a “learning by creating value” philosophy into their new program. Collaborative programming and hands-on learning experiences for students will include field trips and guest speakers that introduce the wide range of people that make up the agricultural and food system. Student coursework will also include business development practicum projects that facilitate exploration and development of the market potential of early-stage ideas in partnership with companies, non-profits and academic innovators. 

“By co-creating new food products or services with these companies, our students will be able to practice what they are learning and be better prepared to become industry leaders,” says Charriez. “In agribusiness, there is a lot to learn from people from different backgrounds. We are looking for curious students who want to create a movement of people who are interested and want to know who makes their food, and how we can sustainably feed 11 billion people.” 

Spurring Innovation 

The CSU Spur campus in Denver is a year-round urban hub for food and ag discovery. Vida, the first of three new state-of-the-art buildings, opened to visitors in January during the National Western Stock Show. The campus’ second building, Terra, will open this summer. With a focus on agriculture, the Terra building will be home to urban agriculture production facilities and research on display through controlled environment horticulture, a rooftop greenhouse and greenhouse, a food lab and public teaching kitchen. The campus’ third building, Hydro, will open in late 2022. 

Research and education programs at Spur will promote agricultural literacy and lifelong learning, foster agribusiness entrepreneurship, enhance the health and well-being of communities, and advance the sustainability of urban and rural food systems. In this role, he will focus on increasing the value of Spur’s research, tools while further cementing Spur’s position as the vanguard of brands enabling society to thrive in harmony with nature. 

Charriez hopes that Spur’s central location will bring people – from neighbors to foodies to producers to companies — together as a hub for food innovation in the state of Colorado and beyond. 

“I look forward to working with the global community of world-class companies to co-create solutions that further our mission to help shift the world to the sustainable economy of the future,” Charriez says.

Agribusiness and Food Innovation Management Program

Colorado State University’s Agribusiness and Food Innovation Management program offers a master’s degree or certificate in business management, equipping students with the knowledge and skills to launch new businesses, new products and new technologies, with a focus on agriculture and the food and beverage industries. The program offers companies an opportunity to engage a team of students on a business development or innovation challenge. 

The program is accepting applications for its first student cohort until May 1, and classes start in August. Classes are hosted in-person at the CSU Spur campus in Denver and online. For more information and to apply, visit the CSU Online website.