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Silver Partner
Tuesday, 8th November
We are
Syngenta Crop Protection (CP) is one of the four business units of Syngenta Group, a global leader in agricultural technology and innovation with 49000 employees in more than 100 countries. Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Syngenta CP has an industry-leading R&D pipeline, strong research capabilities and a broad product portfolio of herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and seed treatments.
We offer
At our company both students and graduates can apply their knowledge, gain initial experience, learn and grow in a variety of areas and benefit from the know-how and experience of our employees. We offer internships at all levels during your academic education (undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate and postdoctoral level) lasting from 3 to 12 months.
We are looking for
We are looking for enthusiastic and talented individuals who want to launch their career in science, chemistry, biology and engineering in order to meet the present and future challenges of a dynamic and demanding market environment.
// Interview
Amandine Kolleth
Crop Protect Research Chemist (Principal Scientist)

What does your current role as a Crop Protect Research Chemist (Principal Scientist) at Syngenta entail?
In Stein we cover 3 indications for crop protect research: Disease control, Insect control and Plant health-Soil health (Weed control is based at Jealott's-Hill, our site in UK). I am currently working in Insect control in lead exploration projects, these are early stage projects that have just left the discovery phase. In this role, I am responsible of the chemistry of one project, which starts with the design of the molecules we want to make, then elaboration of the synthetic routes, bring support to the synthesis chemists in their daily work by troubleshooting, advices etc, and finally, analyse the data once the molecule are tested to restart a new wave of design and synthesis. In addition to this role, I am also project leader which consists in having a cross functional understanding of the priorities of the project (Biology, Toxicology, Bioscience etc…) to build a science plan and coordinate the activities to ensure a good delivery of the project.
What made you want to do your postdoc at Syngenta? Was is related to your PhD topic?
Since the beginning of my PhD I always knew I wanted to work in industry. I wanted to see the direct applicability of my work and be part of a team where everybody contributes to the same goal. To be completely honest I didn't know if I wanted to make my postdoc inacademia or in industry, the most important thing for me at that time was to keep growing my knowledge in chemistry, learn new things and enrich my CV with publications as we know that Organic chemistry in a highly competitive field. During the last year of my PhD, I have been selected to join the Syngenta PhD workshop in Stein (organized every second year) and I really enjoyed working on real case exercises and seeing the challenges that Syngenta tackles. I have been lucky that, in the end of these 2 days, my future boss Dr Alain De Mesmaeker proposed me a postdoc fellowship, of course I accepted and never left the company since then. Obviously my role evolved a lot but this is also what I like at Syngenta, the perspective of evolution are infinite. My postdoc was not related to my PhD topic, I worked (2.5 years) on the synthesis of 4 membered rings in using keteniminium intermediates while a spent most of my PhD on the total synthesis of a natural product.
How does a typical day at the company look like? What excites you the most in your job?
This is what I like in my job, there is not a typical day, it’s always different. Of course the design of new molecules is a big part of my time, it is not only about finding the most biologically active molecule but really optimize on the full spectrum even for an early phase project (physchem, biology, species selectivity, toxicology, soil endpoints, …). Data analysis becomes also more and more important as we generate more data than in the past since biological activity was almost the only driver in the beginning of a project. I like being part of a team and see everybody dedicated to the same goal.
How would you describe the working atmosphere at Syngenta?
It is highly collaborative. We are always part of a team, we can challenge our ideas, reformulate our hypotheses and mix our creativity for the best of the project. We have all different background, experience, expertise and this is what makes our strength.
Which advice would you give to ETH graduates who are looking for a job outside academia?
I would of course advice to have a strong scientific background but beside that develop as early as possible additional skills. Soft skill for instance (leadership skills, argumentation skills, good oral communication) are extremely important as I said before, we never work alone, and build and favor a team cohesion is essential. On top of everything, be curious: research in general can only progress if we ask questions and be open to not find an obvious and quick answer.
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