Nikki Foster is an integral part of the Tampa Bay community with a great perspective on business: “When you make a deposit into someone else’s ‘emotional bank account’ the return on your investment will be overwhelming.” How wonderful could business be if we all had this philosophy? Let’s get to know more about Nikki!
1. Tell us in a few sentences what you do. And why you do it.
I am a Public Affairs Manager for The Mosaic Company, dedicated to Hillsborough County. My responsibility is to be an avenue of engagement between the company and our stakeholders. Our stakeholders include elected officials, neighbors, local communities, non-profits organizations, employees – anyone who has an interest in the success of the company or what we do.
The Mosaic Company is one of the world’s leading producers and marketers of concentrated phosphate and potash crop nutrients. Mosaic is a single-source provider of phosphate and potash fertilizers and feed ingredients for the global agriculture industry. Phosphate is a naturally occurring mineral found as a ore in the ground. One of the largest deposits in the US is found in Bone Valley, here in Central Florida. Phosphorous is found in our bodies; it’s as essential to our bone and DNA structure as calcium. Crop nutrients increase crop yields anywhere between 40% – 60%. Considering how many people currently live on this planet (and future population growth), and how much arable land is available for planting crops, using fertilizers is how we will continue to grow enough food for us to live. That’s what we do.
In Florida, we employee about 3000 employees and have about 3000 contractors that work with us throughout the year. The economic impact is significant from the perspective of the high-paying jobs we provide and associated taxes generated to the state and local governments. There was an impact study conducted by Port Tampa Bay a few years back. It noted that then, the phosphate industry was responsible for 70% of the revenue generated at that port. I think it’s significant for us to understand how one industry’s existence has widespread ripple effects or impact in so many ways.
The part of my job I enjoy the most is working with our community partners. One of Mosaic’s values is to be part of the community in which we work and our employees live and play. So, I get to spend time working with organizations that are focused on responding to food insecurity or environmental stewardship, or ones that have a strong presence in our local communities. There is an extensive list that I can share, but I would probably miss one if I tried to list them all. I have been invited to serve on several Boards. There is value for the organization to have a member of Mosaic participating – sitting around the table. Sitting on a Board is not a job requirement, but ensuring we have the right person in that seat is. For me personally, taking a Board seat is always about joining to add value to the work that organization is doing. I don’t want join so I can have something written on my resume. I chose organizations whose mission aligns with mine.
2. What is your contact info (that you want shared) please include any active social handles, websites etc.
I am not active on social media, maybe that will change in the near future. I have a Facebook page, a Twitter handle and Instagram profile. If someone wants to reach out, I’d recommend my work email: Nichelle.Foster@MosaicCo.com.
3. When I wake up in the morning the first thing I do is…
The first thing I try to do every morning is thank God for another day! I have been blessed more than I deserve and I don’t ever want to fail to thank God for all my blessings – whether good or bad. Then I try to have my morning devotional and spend a little time deepening my relationship with Him. It grounds me for my day. It encourages me and is a source of peace through hard times. I realized a long time ago that my life is not my own. I have a purpose and I don’t want to miss it. My personal mission is “to care for the heart”. That doesn’t mean I’m perfect. It doesn’t mean that I don’t get mad and even have moments of behaving badly – yes, I will yell at people in traffic. But it does mean that my focus is to truly see those people that are placed in my life.
4. My best business advice is….
2020 was an incredulous year – Hollywood couldn’t have written a movie that could incorporate all the events of this past year. 2020 has taught us a lot. For me, it gave me some rest and the time to spend with my family when it was most needed. What I’ve seen from our partners, is that the ones that did well were the ones whose leaders were able to quickly adjust. Embrace change. Expect it. Prepare for it. And DON’T expect things to go ‘back to normal’ – we will never be the same again. If we are same, or expect to be the same, we will not progress.
There is a business case for supporting others. If you want people to support your business or organization it’s easier when you are supportive of others. This isn’t only about a financial support but giving of yourself. I can hear the entrepreneur or small business owner right now, “I don’t have time to build someone else’s when I’m trying to build mine.” But that which is important to us we make time for. When you make a deposit into someone else’s ‘emotional bank account’ the return on your investment will be overwhelming. When we can focus outside of ourselves, we can continue to have a broader perspective that allows us to see new, innovative, and diverse ideas that will help not only your business grow but it will make you a better leader. Seek to be one who leads from your heart.
During last year (and it’s continued into 2021), I was able to spend quality time with some of the leaders of our community partners. I was able to be more engaged in their daily activities, really hear their issues and concerns and provide strategic solutions that have sustainable outputs. This investment does have any value to my company in my role as a public affairs manager. However, this is more about me personally being able to respond and provide a skill and talent to someone in need. That’s what I want people to think and say about me.
5. My professional goal for 2021 is…
There are two main goals I’d like to accomplish in 2021. In the summer of 2020, the world held its breath for 8 minutes and 46 seconds while we helplessly watched what happened to George Floyd. It was probably THE most unsettling experience that mankind collectively shared. It set into motion changes that this country has truly needed for hundreds of years. When I say that, it DOES NOT exclude the Civil Rights movement in the 50’s and 60’s. We would NOT be where we are today if not for sacrifices of many, many people– I stand on their shoulders. But we’ve become complacent by not correlating impact of diversity with equality with inclusion. At Mosaic, as with countless other companies, we had to listen. Then we had to take action. We took a look at our practices and profiles and admitted we need to make sweeping changes. Our CEO formed a task force, which I am a member of, to help develop a foundation for a culture where all employees can bring their whole selves to work and be valued and included. Seeing that foundation fully formed to be a sustainable part of our culture for the next 100 years is important to me. (This industry has more than 100 years of history in this region.)
The second… In line with my personal mission, to care for the heart, I have wanted to work with young women who are broken and going through a hard time – who need help to move through to the next chapter. I have found an organization, Hope for Her, whose purpose is just that. I just found them and am looking to start working with them in the next couple of weeks.
6. When I practice self-care I…
Have boundaries! We have to ensure we have healthy boundaries in every aspect of our lives. My time is limited and valuable, so I aim to manage it effectively. I am very intentional to stop working at a certain time at the end of the day and not checking and responding to emails on off hours. I have to be clear and respect what I do or do not have control over. To relax, I probably spend way too much time playing games on my phone! They help me let go of the stresses of the day and to not be anxious about tomorrow.
7. The place I am happiest is…
One of my favorite places is my back porch. I have small pond in back of my house and it’s west facing so the sunset with an adult beverage is a nice way to end a day.
8. People are surprised to learn…
Have a five-year old grandson, Nicholas. And I’m really an introvert.
9. 2020 taught me…
In addition to everything else above, it reinforced that I need to look to the heart of a person. The world (or at least this country) is angry. There is so much going on that is contributing to someone’s attitude and that I shouldn’t take it at face value but be patient.
We love Nikki’s mission to care for the heart, and we are especially excited for her involvement with Hope for Her, which sounds like an amazing organization that helps women soar. Nikki, we hope you will keep us posted in your involvement there as you start working with them!