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The Foundation's team

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, Tulaa and the Initiative for Smallholder Finance. 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.

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.

Victoria Johnson-Chadwick

Program Officer, Seeds & Insurance 

Victoria joined the team in March 2014, after completing her Master in global management, specializing in marketing. She works across the Foundation's seeds and insurance activities, in the areas of business strategy/planning and communications. 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.

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.

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.

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. 

Robert Berlin

Head of AgriservicesDigital 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.

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. Yuan holds a PhD in Environmental Economics from the University of Hamburg. She has published in academic journals on a range of topics related to food security, agricultural extension, agricultural economics, and water management. A number of her publications are available here.

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.

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.

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.

Baskar Reddy

Executive Director, Syngenta Foundation 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.

Oumar Niangado

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.

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.

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.

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.

Dao Xuan Cuong

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).

Teddy Tambu

Program 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.

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).

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.

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.

Herve Thieblemont

Hervé Thieblemont

Regional Seed Business Development Lead, Asia

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.

Camille Renou

Seeds2B Program Manager, West Africa

Camille 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 is 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


His responsibilities include this website and our tweets @syngentafdn. Between a decade each in healthcare and agribusiness, [email protected] worked as a freelance journalist and translator. 30 years after graduating in the UK, he completed a Certificate in African Studies at Basel University. His concluding essay was on radio extension for smallholders in minority languages. More recently, he's written about city migrants and rural residents. Paul is a Trustee of the Basel Children's Cancer Foundation and an international rowing commentator; the 2016 Olympics were his fifth. Here are his Tips for public speaking (die gibt's auch auf Deutsch) and some thoughts on corporate foundations. You'll find his blog entries on our Kenya page. 

*For information about the broader Seeds2B and other teams, please get in touch.