042 AGL: Becoming a Specialist


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Have you ever wondered about a career in sales but found that the position could be intimidating both 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 (https://www.syngenta.com). 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 4H 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 attentions 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, 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 when issues arose, and professionalism (https://aggrad.com/10-pieces-of-advice-on-interview-prep/).

“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... 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. She works with her 130 farmers and ranchers within her district with the AgriEdge program.

The AgriEdge program allows customers access to a farm record keeping technology with capabilities to utilize an array of Syngenta products from their portfolio to stay in line with the company’s values of sustainability and efficient productivity (https://aggrad.com/future-of-agriculture-053-millennials-solving-world-problems-through-agricultural-technology-with-mikayla-sullivan-with-kinosol/). “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. Designed for individuals jumping from a bachelors or masters into their first fully professional job, it took several months to learn the Syngenta portfolio. Upon completion of the interim position, they can then apply for a permanent territory. 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 (https://www.syngenta.com/careers) if you are interested in a career change (https://aggrad.com/there-is-still-a-shortage-of-talent-in-agribusiness/) or are looking to start your career fresh from school.

Make sure to subscribe to AgGrad to learn more about career opportunities in agriculture and follow along on the special “30 Under 30 in Agriculture” series (https://aggrad.com/introducing-aggrad-30-under-30/)! Interested in nominating someone under 30? To learn more about career opportunities in agriculture, follow AgGrad online:

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