At an age when most kids are learning to navigate their neighborhoods and towns solo, Yemi Yang was on her way – alone – to a different continent. When she was in middle school, the young Yemi boarded a plane in her hometown of Minneapolis and headed for London, where she met up with her paternal grandmother and other family members from Nigeria.
“It was a treat to be an only child on that trip,” says Yemi.
Yemi credits her mother with instilling in her a love of traveling the globe. Indeed, though she is now making her home in Austin, Minn., wanderlust is a recurring theme for this Hormel Foods third-shift supervisor. To wit: While working on her bachelor’s degree, she studied in China and Japan. Soon after, she won a scholarship from the Chinese government and spent the next six-plus years in China, completing her master’s degree at Zhejiang University while her boyfriend and now husband was working on his in Sydney, Australia.
Learning in China
Studying in China wasn’t easy. All of Yemi’s classes and exams were in Chinese. It was “definitely a challenge,” she says. It helped that her professors were fluent in English and allowed her to use her first language when answering test questions. And there were the typical graduate-student trials and tribulations, abated by much-awaited care packages from Yemi’s mother. They always contained Hormel® Compleats® meals.
“There would be three graduate students sharing one of the meals,” Yemi laughs.
During these years, Yemi had an informational telephone interview with Hormel Foods. Whether it was Yemi’s Minnesota roots or the prophetic care packages, “I trusted the brand,” she says.
Yemi was intrigued but had to convince her fiancé, Yang, to swap Sydney for Austin. Not only was she successful in getting him to change his plans, she sold him on Hormel Foods. He works in the technology area as a programmer.
Joining Hormel Foods
“Life is definitely different now,” says Yemi. “But we still find opportunities to travel,” adding that the lower cost of living in Austin allows them to save for their trips.
Some of those journeys of late have been related to their wedding. Yemi and Yang were married in Hawaii and honeymooned in Thailand. They’ve also had receptions throughout the world to celebrate with family.
Other trips keep them closer to home. Twice a month, Yemi and Yang drive to Minneapolis to visit and play with Komachi, their beloved Pekingese poodle. Their apartment complex doesn’t allow pets, so Komachi stays with Yemi’s family most of the time.
Closer to home, Yemi and Yang look forward to their evenings together. Yang works first shift and Yemi recently changed from second to third, which gives them part of the evening to have dinner, to decide where their next trip will take them and to talk about the day’s events.
Not surprising, Yemi, who recently celebrated her one-year anniversary with Hormel Foods, is enamored with the diversity of her workplace.
The realization led Yemi to pitch in to establish a diversity and inclusion team at the Austin Plant, which she says is “about increasing the feeling of inclusivity around different groups of people.”
“I’m working with all kinds of people. I love learning about them and their culture,” she says.
And for this world traveler, that makes Hormel Foods feels a lot like home.