This month I had an opportunity to ask Jeff some questions about where he works and why he takes so much of his time to help develop a more robust workforce system in North Carolina. Read our conversation below:
Tell me a little bit about Syngenta.
Syngenta is one of the world's leading companies with more than 27,000 employees in over 90 countries dedicated to our purpose: Bringing plant potential to life. Through world-class science, global reach and commitment to our customers we help to increase crop productivity, protect the environment and improve health and quality of life.
One of the unique things about Syngenta is that our actions and products can help address one of the planet’s most challenging dilemmas: how to grow more crops from less resources. That is why our ambition is to bring greater food security in an environmentally sustainable way to an increasingly populous world by creating a worldwide step-change in farm productivity. And that means on every farm - the 8 million large farms of over 100 hectares and also the 500 million farms of around only 1 hectare. Each farm and farmer has a role to play.
How did you come to focus on workforce development in your career?
Throughout the course of my career I have worked in many industries that have had significant economic challenges furniture, healthcare, textiles, etc. It seems that a quickly evolving workforce has always been a business focus for me. Either quickly ramping up or scaling down has been the order of the day. I really developed a passion for workforce development after seeing so many great folks laid off during business down turns. After having to deliver so many difficult messages to people losing their jobs, I wanted to find a way to give something back. Economic and Workforce development was my way of attempting to do that.
How did you first get involved with BLU, and why did you choose to come to the last Fly-In?
I first got involved with BLU during last year’s fly-in. I was excited to be able to participate in such an exchange of ideas with other business leaders as well as policy makers.
What was your experience at the last Fly-in?
It was a tremendous experience for me and truly opened my eyes to the concept and power of advocacy. I was also able to build lasting relationships and networks with folks that wanted to achieve the same goals that I did for their local and national community. I remember returning home and wondering why more folks in our workforce system weren’t aware of this type of advocacy program and why we didn’t have more representation from NC.
Why are you planning to attend the January 2015 Fly-In?
I want to build on last years’ experience. I was a novice last year and I want to be able to leverage this year’s experience for all it has to offer. I am hoping to grow my workforce networks and continue to build lasting relationships that will benefit the cause of an effective workforce.
Why should other employers get involved in advocating for employer led workforce partnerships?
The employer’s voice is one of the most effective vehicles there is relative to shaping policy. Policy makers and administrators want to hear from the job providers/creators. As employers there are a lot of unmet needs relative to the workforce and we must do more to shape the worker pipelines we need currently and in the future. There’s an old saying “a closed mouth doesn’t get fed.” I find this a very fitting challenge. If employers are to truly get what they need, we have to engage more in advocacy and workforce development activities.