Seed Biotechnology Center
Seed Biotechnology Center
Seed Biotechnology Center
University of California
Seed Biotechnology Center

Seed Business 101

Attracting and retaining talented new employees is a critical challenge for the seed industry. The Seed Business 101 course was created, with input from industry executives, to accelerate the careers of promising new employees and young managers.

By selecting and sponsoring employees to attend this course, companies acknowledge past performance and invest in accelerated professional development.

The course also offers invaluable insights and perspective to seed dealers and companies offering products and services to the seed industry, including seed treatments, crop protection, seed enhancement and technology, machinery and equipment, etc.

Core Curriculum

The goal of Seed Business 101 is to enhance each participant’s career performance and help them avoid costly mistakes. The course is designed to focus on the optimum operations of the five major functional areas of a seed company.

  • Plant Breeding Research
  • Production
  • Operations
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Administration

The course offers participants a broad understanding of the major aspects of a seed company’s operations and a cross-departmental knowledge of best practices for profitability. Four case studies have been custom designed to immerse each participant in decision making roles in all five functional areas of a fictitious seed company. The course is designed to maximize interactive participation and team building.

Participants are introduced to the fundamentals of genetics and plant breeding, variety life cycle, supply chain and production planning, profitability, financials of the seed and trait business.  The context for the case studies is provided by introducing the company history, organizational structure, sales history and financials.  The first case study is dealing with marketing/sales is introduced in the afternoon.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
Participants will be divided into several working groups for Cases II, III and IV to study critical processes in a seed company’s daily life:

  • inventory management
  • gearing up to enter a new market
  • decision on the future of the Company

Additional information on production, operations, production research, inventory management, R&D and budgets, specific to the company activities is introduced with the additional case studies.  Guest speakers, industry experts in the areas of the case studies, present before the group work.  At the end of each case study, each group will present the optimum strategy, followed by discussion and instructors’ recommendations.

An off-site visit will be made to a local seed company, a university or other business related to the seed industry on one of these days.

Team presentations on the last case study and instructor critiques are conducted, followed by a course recap, final Q&A and course evaluation. A Certificate of Completion will be awarded to each successful graduate.

SB101- Horticulture Instructors

This course emphasizes flowers and vegetable crops as examples in the curriculum.

Maurice Smith’s career in vegetable seeds spans 39 years. Before becoming an independent consultant in 2009, he was President and COO of Harris Moran Seed Company. During extensive working periods in the UK, France, Netherlands and the USA, Maurice has held senior Sales, Marketing and Corporate Management positions at Tézier, Petoseed, Seminis, Nickerson-Zwaan and Harris Moran. With a broad international experience, he has managed seed companies and subsidiaries in over 20 countries.

Pieter Vendenbert
Pieter Vandenberg began his 48 year career in genetic research and plant breeding and concluded his career in the seed industry as the VP of Technical Resources/Worldwide Product Complaints for Seminis.  He had previously served in senior executive positions with Sunseeds as VP of Quality Assurance and General Manager of Nickerson-Zwaan USA.  His expertise includes plant breeding research, company administration, quality assurance and product complaint resolution.

MIke Pereira
Mike Pereira has 39 years’ experience in seeds, 32 years in vegetable seed production, and 7 years in biofuels seed production. Mike has extensive expereicne in leading global seed production organizations and establishing new production areas. In biofuels, he established the first hybrid seed system for Miscanthus, an ethanol feedstock, and directed hybrid seed production and plantation research of Jatropha, a diesel and jet fuel feedstock. Currently, Mike consults in vegetable seeds and alternative crops through his company, Granum Services, LLC.

SB101- Field Crops Instructors

This course emphasizes field crops as examples in the curriculum.

Dr. Tom Francis has over 30 years of experience in the seed business. He started as a research scientist with Agriculture Canada. Subsequently he joined Northrup King and ultimately became Vice President of Research for the U.S. Following, Dr. Francis joined Syngenta and became the Global Head of Product Evaluation and Assessment prior to retiring. Dr. Francis has served in leadership positions for both the Canadian and American seed trade associations. Today he consults and maintains a special interest in attracting and developing new talent within the seed industry.

Dave Westphal has more than 46 years of diverse management experience in worldwide agribusiness. He has held leadership positions with Holden’s Foundation Seeds LLC, Corn States Business Services, Hawaiian Research for Monsanto, Sansako Seeds, Carnia Seeds and Cargill grain origination, crop protection and fertilizer distribution businesses both domestic and international. He is the founder and CEO of D3 Consulting, LLC and a member of the Context firm. Currently he is engaged in consulting activities with foundations and alliances in Africa working with start-up seed businesses.

Craig Newman_SB101 Field Crops
Craig Newman is the former President & CEO of AgReliant Genetics, the third largest corn seed company in the U.S.  Prior to being named CEO in 2012, Craig served as the company’s Vice President of Sales & Marketing since its inception in 2000.  During his career, he held various positions with Akin Seed, Callahan Seeds and AgriGold Hybrids, including General Manager, before the company became a division of AgReliant Genetics in 2000. In addition, he also served as the Chairman of the American Seed Trade Association Board of Directors and on the Executive Board. Craig recently retired in June 2016. As a newly retiree and active consultant, Craig brings over 38 years of experience in the seed business to team of instructors.


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