Nuseed Steering Team

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Brent Zacharias

Growing up on a Canadian grain farm in rural Saskatchewan ignited Brent’s life-long passion for agriculture. After completing his degree in agricultural economics from the University of Saskatchewan, Brent started as a sales representative and quickly advanced into canola marketing, novel traits and healthy oil demand creation roles.

During his 26 plus years in industry, Brent spent 10 plus years with Dow Agrosciences before Nufarm recruited him in 2006 to become their Canadian Commercial Manager. Two years later, he moved to Australia where he established Nufarm’s new seed business – Nuseed.
Under his strategic leadership, Nuseed has become a global company with over 250 employees. Nuseed has world-class Innovation Centers in each hemisphere, earned seed sales in over 30 countries, and developed R&D programs, advanced trials and facilities in Australia, Europe, North America and South America.

Brent has helped drive Nuseed’s competitive market landscape and has maintained social responsibility in the geographies Nuseed operates. Nuseed has pledged a commitment to ‘Value Beyond Yield®’, which means that we are not content to simply meet expectations, but rather strive to surpass what is typically expected from a top seed and services company.

 

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Brent Javra

Brent’s 25-year career in agriculture marketing and sales, combined with his Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Manitoba, provide the expertise and experience to lead Nuseed’s commercial sales and marketing teams globally.

Brent joined Nuseed in September 2014 in a joint role as General Manager, Europe and Global Business Lead, Sunflower. In 2016, he was promoted to Nuseed Global General Manager, Commercial with leadership responsibility for Australia, LAS, NA and EU seed regions. In 2019, he facilitated the acquisition of assets from Agrisoma and has led the Carinata integration and business strategy since.

During his 6+ years with Nuseed, Brent has been a key leader. He has a diverse depth of experience in the agriculture business having spent 20 years with Dow AgroSciences prior to joining Nuseed. In addition to his role as European General Manager for Dow’s seed group, his time at Dow also included leading Downstream Specialty Oils – Marketing and Business Development in Asia, NA and EU.  Prior to moving into seeds and traits, Brent spent 15 years with Dow in crop protection management roles including sales, marketing, distribution and executive account management.

Brent’s seed industry knowledge and network, in combination with international management experience and a strong team of regional general managers, has facilitated Nuseed’s substantial commercial growth globally. He now leads the global commercial business from the Nuseed office in Calgary, Canada.

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Silvana De Lima

Silvana de Lima became a member of the Nuseed Steering team as the Global Supply Chain Lead in 2018, where she is responsible for four regions, $70M AUD budget and over 60 people. Mission-driven, growth-driven and a high-performance team enabler, with over twenty-five years of experience in Fortune 500 companies like Dow AgroSciences and Monsanto, she contributed to their businesses living in countries like Mexico, Asia and the US.

She started her career as a sales representative in Brazil, quickly progressed to positions of greater responsibilities in Marketing, Product Management, Finance and Supply Chain. Prior to joining Nuseed in December 2018, she was a member of the selected team working on the Bayer-Monsanto acquisition integration project, due to her strong leadership, influence and breadth of experience.

In over her 13 years of experience in supply chain, she had responsibilities for managing teams of up to 400 full time employees, 1,000 contractors, managing budgets up to $500M, bringing savings to the organization in the range of $10-30M yearly, leading teams in Finance, Planning, Customer Service, Trade and Compliance, inventory management, change management and improvement projects.

Silvana holds an MBA in Marketing from IBMEC, Sao Paulo, Brazil and undergraduate degree in Agriculture Engineering with University of Sao Paulo.

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Benita Boettner

Benita Boettner joined Nuseed in 2016 as Global Lead, Commercial Strategy for the Omega-3 program at Nuseed. In 2019 she was promoted to Global General Manager, Nuseed Nutritional with leadership responsibility for the Omega-3 business.

Benita has a diverse 25+ year background in nutrition and healthcare, consumer technology and policy and international relations. Immediately prior to joining Nuseed, she was a Principal at Lismore Advisors, a business consulting firm focused on accelerating growth for its clients. She has commercialized two early-stage healthcare technology companies and is former executive director at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, one of the most prominent international affairs organizations in the United States. Earlier in her career, Benita held P&L responsibility for a $435 million pharmaceutical product portfolio at Pharmacia Corporation, leading a global cross-functional team and introduced an enterprise wide, market driven planning process at RR Donnelley, a Fortune 500 print communications company.

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Travis Rankin

Travis joined Nuseed in its foundation year in 2006 via acquisition and has worked in roles central to commercial strategy, operations and downstream customer demand. In 2012 he was promoted to General Manager, Nuseed Australia where he led the business for eight years followed by elevation to the Nuseed Steering Team as Strategic Asset Lead.

Travis’ experiences at Nuseed have included the development of the Monola closed loop business from farm to end customer and the market validation project for the Omega 3 project launch.

Travis currently chairs Nuseed’s global crop teams and has assumed the leadership position for global strategic initiatives in priority segments.

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Gary Barber

Gary Barber joined Nufarm in 2002 via the acquisition of Crop Care Australia. Prior to that he had a successful career in a variety of finance and supply chain roles in a range of industries within ICI Australia / Orica Australia.

After leading and supporting the integration of Crop Care Australia, in 2003, Gary transferred to the United States to take on the role of Nufarm Regional Controller for the Americas. His involvement with Nuseed started in 2010 when he began supporting the business’ global acquisition projects. In 2012 as the Nuseed business grew he took on the role of Nufarm Regional Controller NAFTA / Nuseed Global CFO and in 2014, whereby he transferred full time into his current role of Nuseed Global CFO.

During his time with Nuseed, Gary has been an instrumental member of the leadership team and has made significant contributions to the acquisition and organic development and growth of the business.

Gary has a broad range of finance and leadership capabilities and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

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Rhonda Macdonald

Rhonda Macdonald joined Nuseed in March 2022 to take on the new role as Global Lead, Communications & External Relations. ​

Rhonda has spent the last 25 years taking on progressive leadership roles in strategic communications and change management/people readiness in large-scale energy and agriculture industries, and technology start-ups.​

During her career, she has helped build and influence strategic communications teams, processes and planning; leader, employee and stakeholder engagement; change management; process improvement; brand and reputation management; crisis communications and digital transformation. ​

In her most recent role before joining Nuseed, Rhonda was a key member of the communications leadership team within Suncor Energy’s Transformation Management Office, focused on transformation in support of the energy transition. ​

Rhonda will be a catalyst for accelerating transformational change across the organization.

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Laura Williams

Laura Williams, Global Lead, People & Performance joined Nufarm in 2012 before moving into the Nuseed business full time in August 2017. Prior to joining Nufarm, Laura served as the Vice President of Human Resources for GateHouse Media, a domestic local newspaper company with over 200 sites across the United States. Laura has a Bachelors of Science from the University of Evansville and her MBA from North Central College.

Laura’s experience and enthusiasm for Human Resource includes knowledge of payroll, employee relations, talent acquisition and benefits both domestically and internationally. She has led learning and development, succession and strategy, culture initiatives, policy and procedure creation as well as transitioning staff during both acquisitions and divestitures. Laura’s background also includes 18 years of progressive advancement within the finance and accounting arena including oversight of AP/AR, payroll, general accounting, shared services, financial reporting and M&A.

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Brent Whittaker

Brent Whittaker joined Nuseed in 2008 via divesting a sorghum and sunflower seed company, where he was the General Manager and joint owner, to Nuseed. From 2008 to 2014 Brent was responsible for Nuseed’s global platform development, assessing expansion opportunities and leading asset and company acquisitions which have formed the basis of Nuseed’s current global footprint.

In Brent’s role as Global Market Development Manager, he continues to explore and assess global expansion opportunities and special strategic projects as well as lead subsequent asset, technology, and organization acquisition activities.

Brent has spent 39 years in the agricultural industry with over 30 years of international seed industry management and development experience across a range of crop species and technologies.

Brent has previously founded a successful start-up, private seed breeding and distribution companies and is a non-executive Director of two private Australian companies engaged internationally in the seed and seed technology sector.

 

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Bill Robinson

Bill Robison joined Nuseed in 2013 in a joint role as Nuseed General Counsel and Nufarm Regional Legal Counsel for North America. In his nine years as the legal advisor to Nuseed’s Steering Team, Bill has overseen the construction and defense of Nuseed’s global intellectual property portfolio as well as its numerous acquisitions of new technologies and businesses, including the acquisition of carinata assets and the strategic offtake agreement with bp. During that time, Bill has also played an integral role in Nufarm’s strategic development in North America, including the acquisition of Valent’s North American Turf and Ornamental business and the new manufacturing site in Greenville, Mississippi, the divestiture of Nufarm’s manufacturing facility in Calgary, Alberta, and the strategic glyphosate supply agreement with Fuhua.

Bill has profound experience as a business lawyer in the agriculture industry. Prior to joining Nuseed and Nufarm, Bill spent six years as a Senior Lawyer with Cargill, supporting their North American animal protein businesses in Wichita, Kansas. Before going in-house, Bill was a litigator at large law firms in Chicago and Philadelphia, focusing on defense of diverse complex cases involving subject matters such as securities and accounting fraud, and product liability.

Bill earned his law degree at the University of Pennsylvania in 1998, and his bachelor’s degree at Duke University in 1994.

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Leon Strait

Leon Streit has been the Global R&D Lead at Nuseed since 2017, leading R&D activities and strategy for canola, carinata, sorghum and sunflower. Previously, he spent his 25 year plus career in several leadership positions at Corteva (formerly DowDuPont), consisting of Soybean & Oilseed Platform Director – Global (Johnston, IA and Switzerland), Sunflower R&D Director (located in Switzerland) and Soybean Breeder located in Johnston, Iowa.

As Soybean & Oilseed Platform Director – Global, he served as a single point of accountability for outcomes and decisions to improve the level of transparency and drive a global disciplined issue resolution process for soybean, sunflower and canola/OSR.

As Global Sunflower Research Director, he led a team of scientists to drive product development and innovation activities for sunflower.

During his time as a Soybean Breeder, he managed product development for Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas and NW Missouri. Leon also led R&D activities across three additional Soybean Research Centers in the Midwest U.S. Leon holds over 170 utility patents in the area of soybean variety and trait IP.

Leon holds a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding from Iowa State University. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Nuseed Global Innovations (NGI) and also serves on the Nuseed Steering Team.