October 03, 2016
I recently met a woman who I have great respect for and can now call a friend. She is a woman. She is a mother. She is a mentor. She is a leader. She is the president of a very large organization. She is following her passions and dreams. She is changing the world.
Ponsi Trivisvavet is the President of Syngenta Seeds in North America. She is ultimately responsible for all of the business of one of the largest seed companies in the world. When I arrived at Syngenta to photograph Ponsi in her role as a woman in agriculture I wasn’t quite sure how the day would go. See, I spend most of my time photographing women in production ag, not in professional roles. However, I personally feel that all of the women sitting behind desks, working on the professional side of agriculture play just as important of a role. They are making everything behind the scenes happen so the FarmHers and RanchHers have the seed, insurance, accounting, machinery, equipment, vehicles, vaccines and other things that production ag needs to thrive. They are women pioneering new technologies, leading teams, leading companies and changing the world.
When I arrived at Syngenta’s corporate offices in Minnesota, we started out in the lunchroom, talking about our roles in agriculture and about our families. Ponsi isn’t just the President of a large ag organization, she is also a daughter, wife and mother. We talked a bit about balancing those roles and how difficult that can be. One thing that intrigued me about the lunchroom at Syngenta’s headquarters was the ping pong table. There was a group of employees playing a game and we wandered over and joined in. The open concept of the offices, the beautiful light coming into the work spaces and the fun atmosphere was so unique and speaks volumes about Ponsi as a leader. We then went back upstairs and I followed with my camera as Ponsi worked her way through the various areas of the building, stopping to have brief talks with different people. The interesting thing I saw from my camera lens was it didn’t feel like I was watching conversations between a President and her employees, it felt like I was watching conversations amongst friends.
Our day ended at Ponsi’s office, a small space in the corner of the building that is not typical of a President, but I learned she had volunteered the larger office so it could be used as meeting space. As we sat and visited we talked about what drives her. Very simply, she does what she does because she wants to leave the world a better place than she found it. She thrives on knowing that the technologies her company is developing and using around the world are helping fight starvation. They are giving families resources and income. I always hear talk about feeding the world, and that is just what Ponsi is doing. She is leading a team of people who are pioneering technologies that are feeding the world.
Ponsi’s type of high powered position isn't for just anyone - and in many ways is just like production agriculture. It can be grueling, it never stops and it isn't something you would do unless you love it. Ponsi's work is her life. It is her passion and she does what she does because she loves the land, has a deep care for her community and a strong desire to feed the world.
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