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The Foundation's team

Our team’s mission is to establish and implement value for resource-poor small farmers in developing countries. We do so through innovation in sustainable agriculture and the activation of value chains. We want to build a more prosperous future for farmers, rural youth and their communities. We incubate initiatives and scale them up to deliver impact and improve livelihoods via agriculture.

Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture employees work in a wide range of functions, all focused on sustainable agriculture for smallholders. These include:

  • Finance & Operations
  • Legal and Board support
  • Headquarters administration
  • Research and Development
  • Insurance
  • Agriservices
  • Seeds2B
  • Policy
  • Program Development
  • Communications

The Foundation’s headquarters are in Basel, Switzerland. Our country and regional staff are primarily based in:

  • Indonesia, India, Vietnam, Bangladesh, China
  • Senegal, Mali, Nigeria
  • Kenya

Our more than 100 employees represent some 15 nationalities and a wide variety of professional backgrounds. 

Simon Winter - Executive Director

Simon Winter became Executive Director in September 2017. He joined the Syngenta Foundation from TechnoServe, where he was most recently Senior Vice President, Development, in Washington, D.C., and previously led regional operations in sub-Saharan Africa, having joined in 2003. From 2015-2017, Simon Winter was also a Senior Fellow of the Mossavar-Rahmani Center at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government (HKS)*. He chairs the board of ACRE, and is a board member of Root Capital. Simon additionally holds advisory positions with the World Economic Forum and the Initiative for Smallholder Finance. He is also on the Steering Committee of the Farm to Market Alliance. Earlier career steps included management positions at McKinsey, independent development consultancy, economic planning for a Ministry in Botswana, and roles on three continents at Barclay’s Bank. Winter, a UK citizen, holds a PhD in Economics from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. Read an interview with Simon in English, German and French. *Here are papers he co-authored at HKS on lessons from multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSI) in ag, on MSI & climate change, and on climate risks and Tanzanian maize (corn). 

Marisa De Faveri - Office Manager

Marisa De Faveri has been responsible for administration since 1992, initially at the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development, and since 2001 at the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture.

Laura Ciliberto - Administrative Assistant

Laura Ciliberto joined the Foundation as Administrative Assistant in 2009. She previously worked for six years at Sandoz Agro Ltd., and then moved to Novartis International. Laura was responsible for the Novartis Foundation (formerly Ciba-Geigy-Jubilee-Foundation) for 12 years.

Yuan Zhou - Head of Research & Policy Analysis

Yuan Zhou advises the Foundation and its partners on policy development in agricultural and trade policy, regional economic integration (including seed harmonization), food security, agricultural extension, biodiversity conservation, sustainability, and land/water management. Before joining the Foundation, Yuan was a researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (EAWAG), working on water and environmental policies, integrated analysis of water/food/environment relations, and rural development issues. In 2018, Yuan added an MBA from IMD Lausanne to her PhD in Environmental Economics from Hamburg University. She has published in academic journals and books on a range of topics related to food security, agricultural extension, agricultural economics, and water management. A number of her publications are available here.

Murtiani Hendriwardani - Program Development Manager

Murtiani joined the Foundation in 2018. She manages and supports new business development by mobilizing external financing and fostering relationships with funding partners and others. Murtiani has experience in public and private sector strategy, business development and project management. She has worked in management consultancy and as a cross-sectoral global development advisor, and established her own sustainable development consultancy. Murtiani’s former projects include biomass financing and new financing opportunities for sustainable agriculture in Africa, strategic assessment for beverage market expansion within ECOWAS, and PPP and project finance for public infrastructure in Africa and Asia. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from Columbia University, a Master of Public Administration from Columbia and LSE, and an International Organizations MBA from Geneva.

Natalia Mezzenga - Finance and Operations Head

Natalia is a Certified Public Accountant with extensive experience in Finance. Before joining our Foundation in 2015, she worked in a range of managerial roles at Syngenta. Prior to that, she was with KPMG in her native Italy and the USA, where she worked as a public accounting manager. Natalia is now responsible for running Finance at the Syngenta Foundation, and for providing managerial and operational support around the "three C's": commitments, contracts and consultants.

Rebecca Hubert Scherler - Legal Counsel, Secretary to the Foundation Board

Prior to joining SFSA, Rebecca worked at Clyde & Co LLP, a leading global law firm, having trained at Bircham Dyson Bell LLP. She has extensive experience of prominent, multi-jurisdictional finance and corporate transactions, advising banks and other financial institutions, multinationals, high-net-worth individuals, government bodies and charities. Rebecca has a strong commitment to pro bono and fund-raising initiatives. She worked on a pro bono basis at a community legal advice clinic in London, which supported disadvantaged and vulnerable people. Rebecca grew up in the Sultanate of Oman and graduated from the University of Nottingham, UK.

Rachel Mansuy Marchal - Contracts Manager

Rachel is managing standard templates and contract reviews, with primary support for our West Africa and Seeds 2B programmes.

Lena Köver - Financial Program Manager

Lena’s core focus is to facilitate the effective and efficient delivery of the Foundation’s strategic and operational goals. She has several years of experience working at the intersection of business and international development. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2018, Lena developed public-private partnerships at GIZ, the German development agency. She has also worked in strategic consulting, advising multinationals on sustainable investments in emerging markets. Lena holds a BA in Modern History & Politics and an MSc in African Studies, both from Oxford University, and is completing her MBA in Basel.

Michael Robinson - Chief Science Advisor

Mike Robinson worked for many years in R&D for industrial biosciences and, more recently, on biofuels technologies, renewable energy, and carbon accounting in agriculture. Previously, he worked as Senior Technology Analyst for the Syngenta Corporate Strategy & Technology group. He has been involved in the establishment and project management of several global collaborative research programs with academic and commercial organizations. Mike holds a PhD and graduated from Nottingham and Leeds Universities and Rothamsted Experimental Station in the UK.

Vivienne Anthony - Senior Scientific Advisor

Viv Anthony advises the Executive Director on overall SFSA strategy, and on the direction and content of our portfolio. Viv has years of experience in high-energy, cutting-edge research and development in the seeds and crop protection industries. She is a named inventor on over 25 patents. As a former head of Global Regulatory Affairs in agricultural biotechnology she has significant expertise in governmental relations, international issues management, stewardship, and communications. Viv is British and has a PhD in plant pathology from the University of Wales, UK.

Dominik Klauser - Program Officer, Research & Development

Dominik completed a PhD in molecular plant-microbe interactions at the Zürich-Basel Plant Science Center. During his studies, he also worked on projects investigating the potential of renewable energy sources and in the technology transfer sector in the UK and Switzerland. Despite being Swiss, Dominik is neither a good skier nor an enthusiastic hiker. He also has a profound aversion to most kinds of cheese. In addition to his work at our Foundation, he lectures on plant physiology at Basel University. Here is his January 2018 publication on Challenges in monitoring and managing plant diseases in developing countries. Read more about Dominik here.

Caroline Otto - Project Manager, Research & Development

Caroline completed a Master’s degree in molecular plant biology at ETH Zürich. She joined our R&D team in 2017. To compensate for avid chocolate consumption, Caroline loves to go for a run whenever there is time. In August 2018, Caroline has been elected as the new YPARD Switzerland co-representative. The Young Professionals for Young Professionals for Agricultural Development is an international movement and discussion platform which enable Young Professionals all over the world to realize their full potential and contribute towards the innovative agricultural development.

Olga Speckhardt - Head of Global Insurance Solutions

Olga Speckhardt has many years' experience in international reinsurance and insurance. She holds a degree in Law and has a solid background in underwriting. Before joining the Foundation in 2012, she managed the reinsurance liability portfolio at Transatlantic Re, having previously led Swiss industry liability at HDI. Olga is now responsible for developing our relationships with international reinsurance and insurance partners. These form a crucial factor for the success and sustainability of our microinsurance program. Olga additionally has a seat on the Board of ACRE. In September 2014, she also became Chairwoman of the Swiss Capacity Building Facility (SCBF). You can read the SCBF 2017 annual report here, with a message from the chair. 

Rouven Pérez - Insurance Program Coordinator

Rouven first worked for our Foundation as a Social Service Volunteer. In July 2017, he joined our Agricultural Insurance Solutions team, providing coordination and administrative support. Rouven graduated from Lucerne University of Applied Sciences with a diploma in Business Administration, majoring in Public & Non-profit-Management. Aside from commuting between Lucerne and Basel, Rouven’s great passions include reading, running, and supporting his former youth association.

Robert Berlin - Head of Agriservices, Digital Delivery & Country Programs

Robert Berlin has many years' experience in sustainable agriculture and market development. Before joining the Foundation, he was senior program officer in the Income and Food Security Team at the non-governmental organization Intercooperation in Bern, Switzerland. He supported and advised partners on market development issues in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia, and fostered links between the private sector and development organizations. Previously, he worked in Peru and Kosovo (Intercooperation), and in Nicaragua (FAO), developing innovative approaches and helping smallholders capitalize on experience in rural market development. Robert holds a degree in agronomy and a Master's degree in international agriculture from Bern University of Applied Science.

Marnie Pannatier - Program Officer, Agriservices and Research & Policy Analysis

Marnie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Lausanne University and a Master’s in Sustainable Development from Utrecht University. Before joining SFSA in 2017, she helped monitor and report on the Syngenta Good Growth Plan. Marnie now supports our Heads of Agriservices and Research & Policy Analysis on project management, monitoring and the development of business cases. She also volunteers at various youth organizations, empowering young people to develop socio-environmental projects. In August 2018, Marnie has been elected as the new YPARD Switzerland co-representative. The Young Professionals for Young Professionals for Agricultural Development is an international movement and discussion platform which enable Young Professionals all over the world to realize their full potential and contribute towards the innovative agricultural development.

Ian Barker - Head of Agricultural Partnerships

Ian Barker heads our Foundation's Seeds2B* program. He has extensive experience of R&D management in plant pathology and diagnostics technology. Before joining the Foundation, Ian was Head of Seed Systems for the International Potato Center (CIP) in Nairobi, improving the provision of affordable quality planting material for smallholders in developing countries. He chaired CIP's public-private partnership committee, and has implemented innovative partnerships using private sector investment and know-how to increase the availability of quality potato seed in East Africa. Previously, he worked as Head of Diagnostics at the UK Food and Environment Research Agency, developing and commercializing novel diagnostic methods for plant and animal diseases as well as food and feed contaminants. Ian graduated from Wye College, University of London, and holds a PhD from the University of Exeter, UK. As of 2018, he has been appointed to the Independent Steering Committee of the CGIAR's "Roots, Tubers & Bananas" research program. 

Victoria Johnson-Chadwick - Investor Relations Manager

Victoria joined the team in March 2014, after completing her Master in global management, specializing in marketing. As the investor Relations manager for seeds, Victoria is taking the lead in scalling the seeds offer through the new Seeds for Impact fund, developing a business plan for Seeds2B Africa and supporting resource mobilization in the Foundation more widely. Her Master dissertation on the value chain for tef sparked her interest in the needs of smallholders as primary producers. Victoria enjoys traveling, hiking and skiing. She has dual Swiss and British citizenship.

Miriam Gutherz - Program Officer

Miriam holds a Master’s degree in Business & Economics from Basel University, and a Bachelor in Business Administration from the nearby FNHW. After several years in the finance sector she moved to agriculture as a Syngenta trainee, from where she joined the Foundation in 2018. She has also worked for the Swiss Embassy in Singapore. Miriam now supports the Seeds2B team in project management, budgeting, monitoring and communications. In her leisure time she is a volunteer firewoman and likes to make music.

Camille Renou - Seeds2B Lead Africa

In August 2018, Camille expanded his role to be Seeds2B Lead Africa. Camille develops and oversees the seeds strategy for Sub-saharan Africa working closely with the Head of Agricultural Partnerships, country directors and external partners. He joined the Foundation in January 2012 as a seed specialist in West Africa. Before that he had worked for Syngenta in France on the production and processing of cereal seed, primarily for hybrid barley. With Seeds2B, he was responsible for the seeds program in West Africa (focusing on Mali and Senegal). Camille is developing a platform to promote trialing and technology transfer to link breeders and local seed companies, in order to improve farmers’ access to better seeds of better varieties. Camille graduated in Agricultural Engineering from Angers, France, with majors in plant breeding and seeds production. Here's an interview.

Paul Castle - Head of Communications

Ask us a question, and it’ll probably pass this way! Between a decade each in healthcare and agribusiness, [email protected] freelanced as a journalist and translator. 30 years after graduating in the UK, he completed a Certificate in African Studies at Basel University. He focused on radio extension for smallholders in minority languages, a topic he now pursues professionally. He's also written about rural-urban migration and corporate foundations. Paul is additionally our contact for Swiss volunteers. In his spare time, he's a Trustee of the Basel Children's Cancer Foundation and an international rowing commentator; the 2016 Olympics were his fifth. Here are Paul's Tips for public speaking (die gibt's auch auf Deutsch). You'll find his blog from a 2018 stay in East Africa on our Kenya page

Mamadou Cissé - Communications Manager

Mamadou joined the team in July 2018. He is in charge of website management, enhancement and expansion of the Foundation's digital presence and also raising international appreciation of the Syngenta Foundation across its key audiences. Before joining us, Mamadou worked for various NGOs and international organizations such as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva, Switzerland, and UNICEF in Kinshasa, DR Congo. Mamadou holds a Master's degree in Communications.

George Osure - Regional Director, East Africa


George, an Agricultural Engineer, began his career in the Rural Technology Development Unit of  Kenya's Ministry of Agriculture. He subsequently worked for General Motors in Procurement, and then for Care International, partnering with multi-lateral organizations on the profitability and productivity of smallholder value chains. As our Program Director in Kenya since 2009, and now regionally, George builds sustainable and profitable institutions supported by credit, risk mitigation and input suppliers. These draw on facilities available in the public, private, and development sectors.

Youssou Diagne - Regional Coordinator, West Africa Rice Program

Based in Dakar, Senegal, Youssou is responsible for the coordination and development of our rice projects there and in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Mali. An agronomist, he holds a PhD in Economics from the University of Dijon. Youssou has extensive experience in developing agricultural value chains with institutions including USAID, FAO and the Senegalese Ministry of Agriculture.

Hervé Thieblemont - Regional Seed Business Development Lead, Asia

Herve Thieblemont


Hervé joined the Foundation in November 2017. In his newly created role, Hervé evaluates opportunities, develops business plans, and establishes partnerships to accelerate smallholders’ access to new technologies and services. He came to us from Syngenta, where he had most recently led the Hybrid Wheat & Cereals Solutions team. Before joining the company in 2007, he had worked for Limagrain and Monsanto. Hervé holds a degree in Agronomy from AgroSup Dijon and an MBA from EM Lyon, France.

Tong Yan - Country Director, China

Yan (Tony Tong) has held a wide range of commercial, operational and strategic roles in the agricultural sector. Most recently, he ran Zespri’s Chinese kiwi supply chain. Earlier positions include developing the seed treatment business for Bayer in China and for FMC across Asia. At Limagrain China, Yan led corn seed business development. Early in his private sector career, Yan also worked for Novartis and Syngenta Seeds. He holds a Horticultural Sciences degree from Beijing Agriculture College

Farhad Zamil - Country Director, Bangladesh

Farhad Zamil joined the Syngenta Foundation in 2011. He had previously managed a private sector potato development program in Bangladesh for the US-based non-profit organization Action for Enterprise. Farhad has many years of experience with leading International development organizations and UN agencies. He has worked on sustainable agriculture and rural livelihoods, agri-SME development, value chain integration and private sector engagement. Farhad holds a Master’s in Horticulture from Bangladesh Agricultural University, a Master’s in Business Administration from Southeast University and a Postgraduate Diploma in International Relations from the University of Dhaka. He likes promoting new ideas and concepts, fostering creativity and innovation to change the livelihoods of farmers in developing countries.

Baskar Reddy - Country Director, India

S. Baskar Reddy has led our India team since 2013. From 2005-13, he directed the Agriculture, Food Processing and Water divisions at the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry. He worked closely there with the Ministry of Agriculture on policy formulation and implementation in agricultural marketing, extension, warehousing, machinery and food processing. Baskar was instrumental in India's new Public-Private Partnership for Integrated Agriculture Development. He holds a Ph.D. in Soil and Water Conservation Engineering from IARI, New Delhi. In March 2014, the Indian government nominated Baskar to its national Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture.

Teddy Tambu - Country Director, Indonesia

Teddy Tambu joined us in 2014, having most recently worked extensively on corn, rice and vegetable seeds. As well as agronomy, he has considerable experience in analysis & strategy, marketing & sales, retail, distribution, operations and business development. In his spare time, Teddy runs a "Reading Hut" to help children in a remote area of West Java enjoy books - which would otherwise be a luxury.

Dao Xuan Cuong - Country Director, Vietnam

Dao Xuan Cuong worked for over 20 years at Syngenta and its predecessor companies before joining SFSA in 2010. His professional activities focused on R&D for insect, disease and weed control, and more recently on integrated crop solutions in main crops rice, corn and vegetable. As SFSA Director in Vietnam, Cuong manages a range of agricultural projects to transfer new technologies, increase farmers' productivity and link them to markets. He holds a PhD in plant protection from the Vietnamese Academy of Agricultural Science (VAAS).

Oumar Niangado - Senior Advisor, West Africa


Oumar Niangado is a former Director of Mali's Cinzana Research Station and then Director General of the Mali Institute of Rural Economy. He has been a member of CIRAD's scientific commission and of what is now the Science Council of the CGIAR, as well as numerous other scientific institutions. He currently sits on the Montpellier Panel and the Scientific and Technical Committee of CERAAS. Oumar holds a PhD in Agricultural Science from Paris-Sud University, France. Oumar has now formally retired from the Foundation, but continues to provide advisory expertise.

Salif Kanté - Country Director, Mali

Salif joined the Syngenta Foundation in 2006 as the coordinator of the Capacity Building Project. He is now country director in Mali since 2018. As an agronomist, he represents the regional rice program of the foundation, responsible for managing the administrative and financial aspects of the program. Salif is co-author of 10 publications in several journals and journals.

Isaiah Gabriel - Agriservices, Nigeria

Isaiah has many years’ experience in the area of increasing crops productivity and farmers training in different State in Nigeria. Before joining the foundation, he was the Assistant/General Farm Manager with Rayuwa Farms Limited, Senior Agronomist/Field Coordinator with Syngenta/MADE project, Agronomist with Alluvia Farm, Demand Promoter with Syngenta Nigeria Limited and was among the pioneer team that set-up Syngenta seed production in Nigeria. Prior to this time, he was a graduate student Researcher with UAM/IITA cowpea and soybeans implementation project. Isaiah holds a degree in agronomy, Master, and Ph.D. (in view) in Plant Breeding & Genetics from University of Agriculture Makurdi, Benue State, Nigeria.