Becoming a Specialist: Learning and Growing in Agricultural Technologies

Have you ever wondered about a career in sales but found that the position could be intimidating with the vast amount of knowledge required as well as the time it takes to build a clientele?

This is how Kristin Anderson felt when she took the position as an AgriEdge Specialist with Syngenta. Syngenta is focused on helping farmers produce more yield on less ground, all while remaining sustainable and great stewards of the land. These are reasons that Kristin enjoys her job despite some of the challenges that may face her as the central Indiana-native works with a wide range of clientele throughout her new position in east Texas.

Background Education

Originally, Kristin had wanted to be a marine biologist, so she left her roots in central Indiana to head south to the University of Tampa in Tampa, Florida. There she quickly realized that her passion wasn’t in maritime research but was based on her upbringing of 4-H and showing cattle. Deeply entrenched in the University’s academia at that point, her advisor approached her with the opportunity to stay at the University instead of transferring to a University with an agriculture program.

Through that mentorship, Kristin changed her degree graduating in communications. Using her studies to focus her attention on agriculture, it provided her with a unique outlook on the world of communications, sales, and marketing that she could then bring into the agriculture sector.

“How does your past experience relay into what you are going to be doing?

The most common question asked in her interviews with Syngenta, Kristin was able to explain that her background with sales opportunities in a local retail store showed that she had real life experience in customer service, handling issues with professionalism.

“You may think that you’re there for fast cash because you’re a broke college student,” Kristin explains, “but you can take any small experience like that and relate it to agriculture. Customer relationships, making the best of bad situations, etc. will get you very far in your career.”

Working with Customers

As an AgriEdge Specialist at Syngenta, Kristin doesn’t spend much of her time cold calling or prospecting for her clientele base. Syngenta prides itself on a well-developed and unified team meaning that in her day-to-day Kristin will work with her 130 farmers and ranchers within her district with the AgriEdge program.

The AgriEdge program allows their customers access to a farm record keeping technology with capabilities to use an array of Syngenta products from their portfolio to stay in line with the company’s values of sustainability and efficient productivity. Syngenta products are an array of seed genetics, crop protections products (such as pesticides), and anything within their seed care line.

“I’m a little bit of an agronomist, sales person and technology guru,” Kristin says with a laugh. “A jack of all trades and a master of none.”

How to Pick a Territory

Upon being hired, Syngenta placed Kristin in a developmental sales rep position. This program is designed for individuals jumping from a bachelors or masters into their first fully professional job. Several months of learning the Syngenta portfolio, new hires are provided the opportunity to work directly with a mentor. Upon completion of the interim position, they can then apply for a permanent territory.

With a special fondness for Texas and the position being open, Kristin had enjoyed meeting and working with the team in the area when she was in the interim position. A passion for diversity in crops, she felt that the wide array of horticulture would fit her personality and interest.

Advice for Working in a New Area

When working in a new area, Syngenta teaches the specialists to listen to their customers.

Anybody who is going to work with farmers or producers and, in their role, be recommending something to them when they’ve been doing it their whole life; it’s hard to tell them what you think. Kristin explains that she listened twice as much as she spoke, asking questions, pulling the details out of them and where the opportunity on their farm was.

“Customers will tell you what they are looking for whether it’s to better their yields or make their operation more efficient,” advises Kristin. “They are willing to talk if you’re willing to help them.”

Careers with Syngenta

A company with a variety of opportunities, Kristin encourages you to check job forums, LinkedIn and Syngenta if you are interested in a career change or are looking to start your career fresh from school.


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Katie Schrock