BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS, US —Three women were recognized with the Women in Agribusiness Demeter Award of Excellence for their outstanding achievements in ag.
They are: Ponsi Trivisvavet of Inari, Priscila Vansetti Machado of Corteva Agriscience and Amy Wu of From Farms to Incubators. Each recipient will be recognized at the 9th annual Women in Agribusiness (WIA) Summit, which will be virtual this year on Sept. 16-18.
“We have a saying here at Women in Agribusiness, and it’s ‘lift while you climb,’” said Joy O’Shaughnessy, WIA event director and chief operating officer for HighQuest Group, the company that hosts the WIA Summit. “And these three women embody this philosophy, not to mention excel at our goal of building a growing community of trailblazers. We are delighted to recognize them with the Demeter Award of Excellence for their dedication, team-spirit and incredible accomplishments.”
The annual award, so named for Demeter, the Greek goddess of agriculture, showcases women who have achieved excellence in their field and/or who have exhibited an outstanding contribution to the agribusiness industry, along with demonstrating a positive impact on her clients, her company, her colleagues or the agribusiness sector as a whole.
Ponsi Trivisvavet is chief executive officer for Inari Agriculture, a company that uses gene-editing technologies and data science to develop next-generation seeds that reduce the environmental footprint of farming.
A lifetime of international travel had Trivisvavet witness hunger and starvation on several continents, which instilled a devotion in her to improve agriculture through science and technology. Armed with an MBA from Cornell, she went on to become one of the few female executives in the agtech field — from working at McKinsey to being president of Syngenta Seeds North America.
“In a male-dominated field of ranch hands and tractor drivers, I became one of the few females who had not only joined the cause for creating a sustainable food system, but who was also changing the dynamics of agriculture and science, particularly in leadership positions,” Trivisvavet said. “I’m proud to say that at Inari, 50% of our employees, including those in leadership positions, are women. We have a diverse, international team of industry experts and young innovators who have developed the Inari solution, which will cut plant breeding time by two-thirds — sometimes 10 to 15 years — and reduce costs by as much as 90%.”
Attendees to the WIA Summit will have the opportunity to hear Trivisvavet speak when she joins the Executive Profiles panel on Sept. 17.
Priscila Vansetti Machado is director of global strategy and business development for Corteva Agriscience’s more than $6 billion crop protection business. During her decades-long career, Vansetti Machado has blazed a trail of “firsts”: the first woman to hold the title of valedictorian of her class at Universidade de São Paulo in Brazil where she obtained an agriculture engineering degree; the first female scientist hired by Dupont in its agriculture business, and the first female business director at its Latin American operations, and ultimately the first female president of DuPont do Brasil; and in her current position, Vansetti Machado is the first woman to lead the cross-functional, executive level Corporate Strategy Steering Team.
Most importantly, Vansetti Machado has remained strong in her passion for people development and diversity and inclusion, advocating for the advancement of women, minorities and the Latin community, and leading teams to develop a hiring framework to ensure unbiased and equitable development of candidate pools. She also established a formal mentorship and advancement program for women leaders across the globe, establishing — at DuPont — the Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan for the company’s global agriculture business.
During her time in Brazil, Vansetti Machado formed several employee empowerment networks, including Women’s Leadership, Young Talent, LGBT & Allies, People with Disability & Allies, and Afro Networks. She currently sponsors the Indianapolis chapter of the Corteva Latin Network of employees to foster education, advancement and outreach.
Rajan Gajaria, executive vice president of Global Business Platforms who nominated Vansetti Machado for the award, said of her, “Each day she demonstrates success while maintaining a positive attitude and an unsurpassed motivation to support others. She brings people of diverse backgrounds together, soliciting their input, and ensuring they feel valued, included, motivated and inspired to deliver.”
Amy Wu, an award-winning writer for the women’s ag and agtech movement, is founder and chief content director of From Farms to Incubators, a multimedia platform that uses documentary, video, photography and the written word to tell the stories of women leaders and innovators in agtech.
After decades of reporting on business for outlets such as the USA Today Network and Time magazine, and contributing to The New York Times and Wall Street Journal an assignment brought Wu to report on agriculture in Salinas, California, US, where she was inspired by the women who were steadily introducing their technological savvy to the deeply male, $9 billion agriculture industry in Salinas Valley.
Wu became a fierce advocate for their success, penning the upcoming book “From Farms to Incubators: Telling the Stories of Women Innovators in Agtech,” and creating a 27-minute film that documents the stories of some of these women (“From Farms to Incubators: Telling the Stories of Minority Women Entrepreneurs in the Salinas Valley and Beyond”), which has been chosen to screen at the 2020 United Nations Association Film Festival this October, and will be shown at the WIA Summit.
“There’s the hope that by documenting these women’s stories, struggles, and successes, it will inspire and encourage the next generation of young people — especially women — to understand that agriculture is much more than tractors and overalls,” Wu said. “It’s research, data, science, and marketing. It’s AI, drones, blockchain, sensors and vertical farming.”