The Foundation's team
An expert in international agriculture and sustainability issues, Marco Ferroni joined the Syngenta Foundation as its Executive Director in 2008 after a career in multilateral institutions and government. The Foundation’s mission is to modernize small-scale farming in low- and middle-income countries through sustainable intensification, diversification and the activation of value chains. The Foundation incubates scalable products and solutions, tests them and catalyzes uptake and dissemination through commercial partnerships. Focus areas include seed systems, agricultural insurance and finance, and farmer support services, including digital decision tools in agriculture. Before joining the Foundation, Marco Ferroni, a Swiss citizen with a PhD in agricultural economics from Cornell University, held executive and advisory positions, respectively, at the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank in Washington DC. He is also a Board member of ACRE, and recently became a Trustee of Partners for Development.
Marisa De Faveri
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 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.
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.
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.
Program Officer, Agricultural Services 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 Agricultural Services 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.
Head of Agricultural Partnerships
Ian Barker has over 25 years of experience of R&D management in plant pathology and diagnostics technology. Before joining the Foundation, he 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. Ian 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. He heads our Foundation's Seeds2B* program.
Head of Agricultural Services
Robert Berlin has 20 years of 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 Berne, 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 Berne University of Applied Science.
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.
Chief Science Advisor
Mike Robinson has over 20 years of R&D experience in industrial biosciences and, more recently, 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.
Finance and Operations Head
Natalia is a Certified Public Accountant with more than 15 years' 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.
Executive Director, Syngenta Foundation India
S. Baskar Reddy succeeded B T Seshadri in June 2013. He has over 11 years' experience in the agriculture sector. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Country Director, Bangladesh
Farhad Zamil joined Syngenta Foundation Bangladesh (SFB) in November 2011. He had previously managed the Potato Program at Action for Enterprise. Farhad has many years' experience with leading international development organizations and UN agencies. He has worked in agriculture, livelihoods and the development of agro-based micro-enterprises and value chains. He holds a Master's Degree in Horticulture from Bangladesh Agricultural University and an MBA from Southeast University, Bangladesh.
Dao Xuan Cuong
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).
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.
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 and investors. 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).
Senior Scientific Advisor
Viv Anthony advises the Executive Director on overall SFSA strategy, and on the direction and content of our portfolio. Viv has more than 20 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.
Regional Project Manager in Asia
Clive Murray has over 30 years' experience in the APAC horticultural industry. This has involved focus on export of perishable produce, farm management, mechanised and intensive greenhouse operations, business development of inputs and, more recently, vegetable seed market development. Prior to joining the Foundation, Clive was Vegetables Solutions Manager ASEAN at Syngenta. His work included analyzing market insights and developing collaborative support solutions for growers. Previous roles included management positions in Vegetables Marketing at Syngenta and Portfolio Management for Zeraim Gedera.
Paul Castle ([email protected]) is the Foundation's Communications Manager. His responsibilities include this website. Between a decade each in healthcare and agribusiness, Paul worked as a freelance journalist and translator. 30 years after first graduating, he completed a Certificate in African Studies at Basel University. His concluding specialization was on radio extension for smallholders in minority languages. Paul is a Trustee of the local Children's Cancer Foundation and an international rowing commentator; the 2016 Olympics were his fifth. Here are Paul's Ten Top Tips for public speaking.