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Veg Heads | Sandra says time in Australia 'a privilege'

Sandra Verlaat is Product Manager Leafy Brassica and Solanacea AGH (Active Greenhouse)

Sandra, what's your title, you spent quite some time in Australia but when did you start with Syngenta?

I started with Syngenta in early 2017. My role now is Product Manager Leafy Brassica and Solanacea AGH (Active Greenhouse), which has taken me back to the Netherlands. To explain what I do, it's a marketing role around managing the portfolios. Being a relatively small team, we’re all 'Jack and Jill’s of all trades'. The key is to grow market share with key accounts and distributor/channel partners, and create/service grower demand for Syngenta products by selling value-adding vegetable varieties, and delivering outstanding customer service. However, we all do what we can to make it happen, which is great.

Being Dutch, what brought you to Australia in the first place?

Change and the adventure! The plan was to go to New Zealand, however, I had worked with another seed company before (Enza Zaden). Together with South Pacific Seeds they took over Yates in 2003. They were aware of the fact that we had plans to move Downunder and offered me a role in Australia. This was in Narromine (Central West NSW) of all places! I left in November 2003 and, yes, travelled to many places but never Australia before! So that was the start of our adventure.

How long exactly did you spent in Australia, what’s been your experience of ‘life Downunder'?

It’s truly been a great adventure. The variety and diversity of the country is not something you find anywhere else, great people too! I am truly passionate about the industry I work in and have had the opportunity to work with many growers and other stakeholders across Australia. This has been a true eye opener. Coming from The Netherlands, one thing that really stood out - since I came over here 15 years ago - was the challenges around water and the resources. In The Netherlands there's never a shortage (apart from last Summer); just interesting to see the difference in dynamics. This also counts for the growers around Australia - great people and all from very diverse backgrounds.

I have been very privileged being able to travel pretty widely across Australia's horticultural areas.

Now you're back in Europe, what’s one thing that excites you about your future with Syngenta?

That Syngenta truly is looking to the future! It is really great to see the investments that are being made at the moment to really grow the company. The vibe is good and we are in a good space in comparison to some of our industry partners. I really enjoy the value that we create for growers around the world and find the company culture very inspirational.