Syngenta CIO tackles transformation in industry switch

In his first foray into the sector, Greg Meyers, who also runs Syngenta’s digital business, is helping the provider of pesticides and seeds transform into a top precision agriculture player.

Syngenta CIO tackles transformation in industry switch
Syngenta

Jumping into a new sector is daunting for any IT leader, but most CIOs are naturals at applying their technology leadership chops to new challenges. Accordingly, joining $13.6 billion agricultural concern Syngenta as CIO and chief digital officer was a no-brainer for Greg Meyers, who spent the previous four years helping to transform Motorola Solutions into a provider of software and services.

"I'm attracted to hard problems," says Meyers, who found the steep side of the learning curve when he joined the Swiss provider of crop protection pesticides and seeds in 2018. Meyers, who previously held IT leadership roles at Biogen, Novartis and Johnson & Johnson, was also committed to Syngenta CEO's vision for becoming an agricultural technology powerhouse. Purpose, it turns out, matters every bit as much as fit.

Humans have been cultivating food for many millennia, but the proliferation of heavy industry, including tractors and other combustion engine machines, along with the creation of herbicides, pesticides and synthetic seeds, have facilitated major industrial leaps. For the past several years, Syngenta, as well as Bayer, Land O'Lakes and others in the sector, have been tapping into the emerging "precision agriculture" trend for using computer science, data science, drones and other tools to help farmers improve crop yields.

Tech boosts crops by the bushel

Precision agriculture focuses on boosting the bushel-per-acre yield, a major math problem incorporating soil and water chemistry, weather, seed quality and robustness and probably too many other variables to count. Competing in this emerging science requires agricultural firms to upgrade from legacy to modern tech stacks. This happens to be Meyers' specialty. "I want to help the company navigate the change," says Meyers, who was brought on board to transform the company and accelerate its "digital farming" business.

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