David Hollinrake, North American President of Syngenta Seeds, speaks about changing mindsets from crops to seeds at Syngenta.
Seed World: What are you reading currently?
David Hollinrake: “Never Eat Alone” by Keith Ferrazzi. In our world of constant deadlines and overfilled calendars, Mr. Ferrazzi helps bring readers back to reality by encouraging us to strengthen our relationships and build networks with employees and others. It does wondrous things to help open up our mind to different ways of thinking.
SW: What do you never travel without?
DH: An extra change of clothes. It only takes one experience of being delayed or needing to stay somewhere longer to learn the importance of cleanliness.
SW: Favorite pastime and why?
DH: Tough question! It used to be watching college sports. Since my teams are struggling a bit I have increasingly turned to golf. I find it to be my release from the 24/7 world of business.
SW: What’s the biggest change or adjustment you’ve had to make going from Bayer to Syngenta?
DH: Both companies are fantastic so this isn’t easy. Syngenta has been a leading crop protection provider. But we haven’t been the leader in seeds. So, I’d say it’s helping change my organization’s mindset. Making sure our team understands they have the technologies, product performance and resources to be second to none in our business. Inspiring our people to win BIG is one of the reasons I joined. We are investing in Seeds. We have great people and products, and we will make sure our customers and growers know this!
SW: What are your top three priorities for the year ahead?
DH: 1) Building our brands – telling our story and playing to win. We have a great story to tell but the business has been underfunded to tell it the right way. We are changing that! 2) Connecting with, and demonstrating the critical role our employees and channel partners play in our strategy, values and how we want to operate, and 3) Ensuring our organization is focused on what farmers and channel partners want from us and making sure we have a passion for how we serve them.
SW: Looking at the U.S. seed industry, what one thing concerns you most?
DH: No doubt, it’s the public acceptance of great technologies that can have a meaningful impact on us achieving our purpose, which is to help growers be more productive and profitable so they can keep growing the most abundant and affordable food from their farms. I have absolute confidence in our ability to feed the world but we need a predictable, science-based regulatory environment and we must do more to communicate the safety and environmental benefits of the technologies we develop.
SW: What do you see as the biggest opportunity?
DH: Telling our story and winning in the marketplace. We will win provided we keep our customers at the center of everything we do!