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Retirement beckons but the legacy of a great seedsman continues to grow


By Ged Sippel

One of the most powerful books I have read on leadership is an old classic written by John C. Maxwell, called The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.

The Law of Legacy is his final of the 21 laws. To paraphrase Maxwell, if you desire to make an impact as a leader on a future generation, then you should be highly intentional about your legacy. Peter March, our Adelaide-based Technical Sales Representative, surpassed 37 years’ with Syngenta and its parent companies in November 2019. This month marks his retirement and without doubt he’s been nurturing a legacy for us to follow, from day one.

Peter officially started on November 8, 1982. These were interesting times in the seeds business, and to set the scene, allow me to go back even further. While Syngenta can trace its roots here in flowers and veg seeds back to 1958, when the Dutch bulb company Walter Blom & Sons established an Australian base, this never really took off until the switch to another Dutch company for seeds. Enter Sluis & Groot (S&G), which became a force in the industry. Imagine then, the impact S&G had when it entered the veg seeds business in the early 1980s, right when our ‘up and comer’ Peter was attracted to the role! Holding a University of Adelaide degree in ag science (1976), he left Yates Seeds and never looked back.

In his 44 years’ service to agriculture, most of his energy and focus was of direct benefit to South Australian, Riverland and Sunraysia growers.  Peter travelled extensively within Australia and overseas, providing advice to growers in all major growing regions. He even helped develop the Northern Territory and Ord River markets. Back then it was a 10-day odyssey from Adelaide to Alice Springs/Tea Tree, Katherine, Darwin, Kununurra and home again.  He would travel all week with little contact with his wife Diane, at home, long before mobile phones, video calls and personal computers became a thing. He carried pockets full of spare change knowing every pay phone between Adelaide and Kununurra! He kept a strict schedule, organised well in advance that allowed him to spend quality time with growers in their paddocks. He maintained this discipline throughout his career. Peter’s rigour when it comes to planning and commitment - “not messing growers around” - is the stuff of legend in the Syngenta Veg Seeds business. It’s fair to say, this approach rubbed off.

The term ‘seedsman’ is sometimes used with abandon. Incredibly, Peter only referred to himself as seedsman in the latter stage of his career, once he felt he had truly earned the title. These days, there are few better than you, Peter. We are privileged to have worked alongside you in Syngenta. Congratulations on an amazing career. Enjoy a well-deserved retirement.

Ged Sippel is the Syngenta Vegetable Seeds Business Unit Head for Japan, Australasia, Korea.