Ask Christopher Ruel, who works as a Program Manager in the Agronomy team, why he chose Indigo. He’ll tell you, “It’s the mission.” It’s the company’s straightforward and tangible goals: improve grower profitability, environmental sustainability, and consumer health. And when you – like Chris – are coming from a mission as demanding, influential, and concise as, “defend your country,” finding work you can stand behind and take pride in is not necessarily a simple task.
Chris is a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army Special Forces (Green Beret), with a formidable build and extensive resume to match. He enlisted in 1999, when he was in high school, to pay for college, and was commissioned as an active duty officer in 2003. “You name it,” Chris said, “I’ve been there.” Stateside stations include Hawaii, Kentucky, Florida, Mississippi,Tennessee, North Carolina, and overseas tours including Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Lebanon, and Jordan.
Even though Chris is still committed to 40 days of service a year, active duty ended in 2015; since then, he’s gotten an MBA in business analytics from University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and secured a personal certification as a Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP). His undergraduate degree was in history, which makes him laugh. Knowing what he knows now, he would have studied engineering.
After working in cybersecurity, and training cybersecurity professionals to help protect the nation's critical infrastructure , Chris heard about Indigo from a friend. “I read the company’s charter and was impressed,” he said, referring to Indigo’s core values. “Nothing esoteric – something I could get behind.”
After ten months as program manager, managing complex relationships and projects to support growers, Chris is drawn to improving agriculture’s slow rate of change. As one of the oldest industries on Earth, ag should move quicker to connect with systems thinking and leaps in data science – and that rate of change is what he has found at Indigo. “Every day,” he said, “I contribute to something bigger than myself. I look forward to starting work each day. Not many people can say that.”
Chris is also a founding member of Indigo’s Veteran Association, an organization facilitating opportunities for veterans to complete their work at the highest level possible, whether in aligning active veterans’ training and work responsibilities, or identifying the right mental health program – and everything in between.
“We started the association as a resource group, working to identify what tools veterans need at work,” Chris said. “It quickly evolved into: How do we support the unique talents veterans have developed during their service? And how do we address the stigmas they face when working as civilians again?”
Staying in Knoxville, Tennessee to be closer with his two kids, Chris appreciates the chance to work remote for an innovative company that looks out for its employees. “If a company does not watch your back, you will always look for the next best thing,” Chris said, a phrase that arguably applies to every worker, civilian or veteran. “Loyalty is important. A lot of places underestimate this. But Indigo doesn’t.”