A Pittsburgh native fluent in English, Russian and Portuguese, Rachel Hudson joined Archer Daniels Midland Company as a business development analyst in Hamburg, Germany. Ever since, she has excelled in a series of increasingly challenging leadership roles in ADM’s global treasury, finance and commercial risk-management organizations. Today, she is chief financial officer of a $9-billion corn processing business unit, driving strategy, growth initiatives and portfolio-management.

Previously, she was CFO for the company’s South American business, based in São Paulo. ADM Brazil’s first female director, she is acknowledged as one of the company’s standout strategists and leaders. Hudson is regularly tapped for her global expertise in treasury, credit, controlling, IT, shared services, commodity trading and administration.

“When I moved to São Paulo to assume the role of regional CFO, I knew that I had big shoes to fill. My predecessor was an experienced and respected executive who had been with the regional team for more than 15 years,” Hudson recalls. “So, I started by establishing the obvious with my new team and peers: ‘I am me; I am not my predecessor.’ When I left the region to assume my next role, I had the satisfaction of knowing that I had contributed to the empowerment and development of my team, and that through our efforts we had achieved a number of large goals together,” she adds.

“After much observation, practice and bumps in the road, I figured out that leadership was about connecting people and diverse skill sets to solve problems, build bridges across individuals and teams and motivate those around me to achieve common goals,” she explains. “I enjoy sharing my experiences through mentoring, and I regularly check in with those I mentor, so they remember my door is open, even when I may be located on a different continent!” she says smiling.

“To me, diversity is what makes the world exciting – an awareness that there is more than one way to live, succeed or face any challenge. Diversity can drive creative solutions, fuel progress and open opportunities for investment,” sums up Hudson.

In addition to Hudson’s busy work load, she is active in her suburban Chicago community, offering her finance expertise to the local public-school district.