From Intern to Chief Operating Officer

Kayla Robinson had her heart set on working for AgTexas Farm Credit Services since she was in junior high.

The Stephenville, Texas, native had a family friend whose dad worked for the farm credit service and suggested she should work there one day. Having grown up with a heart for agriculture, Robinson never strayed from the idea of someday working for AgTexas Farm Credit Services.

After high school, Robinson moved to Lubbock, Texas, to attend Texas Tech University, with no intention of staying on the South Plains. While pursuing her bachelor’s degree in agricultural and applied economics, Kayla noticed the local AgTexas office was looking for interns, so she applied. She was offered the position, and suddenly her junior high goal was turning into a reality.

“It really wasn’t until I got my internship that I really developed that appreciation for ag finance and realizing this is really what I want to do,” she said.

After the internship opportunity, Robinson started her young career off at AgTexas as a credit officer. She loved the entry-level job because it involved numbers and the ability to make credit decisions.

“The credit officer position was all about the numbers, the structure and the decisions of the loans that we do,” Robinsons aid, “and I absolutely loved that.”

Since 2003, Robinson has worked her way up in the AgTexas organization, holding the positions of regional vice president of credit and the senior vice president of human resources. In these roles, she got to work with other credit officers within her region. During this time, she decided to go back to school to get her MBA, so she could expand her business knowledge and improve her ability to move higher up in the company.

Tim McDonald, CEO of AgTexas, works closely with Kayla on a day-to-day basis and hired her for the different roles in the past.

“Kayla is outstanding,” McDonald said, “and I can’t say enough good things about her. Kayla is a hard worker and she’s very committed and loyal and she just loves our credit, and it shows because she invests everything she has into her job and what she does.”

I will always encourage people to do an internship if they possibly can because there is so much you can gain out of it.

Kayla Robinson

At the beginning of 2021, Robinson was named the chief operating officer of AgTexas’s Lubbock location. As COO, she is responsible for overseeing human resources, appraisal, insurance and internal credit review for the farm credit organization. 

She hopes to continue the competitiveness of the marketplace and maintain the family-like culture and work environment at AgTexas.

“I’m very blessed to have the opportunity to work at a really good company,” Robinson said. “The character of the management, the CEO, the people – this company is like a family.”

AgTexas hires three interns each summer who are exposed to all aspects of the company.

They travel, go on customer calls, and observe how each of the organization’s departments operate, which helps students gain an understanding of the farm credit business. 

“It’s really a fulfilling experience for the interns and really does give them a pretty good idea of whether this is something that would be a fit or not,” McDonald said.

Robinson said internships give students the ability to gain real-world experiences in a workplace, possibly helping them realize their true passion while developing career-building skills and relationships.

“I will encourage people to do an internship if you possibly can because there’s so much they can gain out of it,” she said.

In addition to hiring college interns, the AgTexas office in Lubbock has developed a relationship with Texas Tech’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. In 2020, the farm credit service announced it will contribute $90,000 over five years toward the CASNR Matador Institute of Leadership Engagement Program, which is a three-semester leadership and professional development program from selected undergraduate students in CASNR. The support from AgTexas will be used to support the program and establish an industry network for students in the program. 

From the start, Robinson knew she wanted to stay at AgTexas when she started as an intern in college.

“When I started my internship, it was evident that AgTexas exhibited a work culture that I wanted to be a part of,” she said. “They operated with integrity and had great values and I knew from then that I wanted to stay here.”

From intern to COO, Robinson is grateful for everything she has accomplished at AgTexas in the past 20 years. A single internship can transform into a passionate 20-year career, just like it did for Robinson.