Title and Organization:
Joseph Byrum is a scientist and a business leader at Syngenta. He leads global soybean breeding, trait research and product development. For the past 20 years, he has been actively involved in global soybean research spanning genetics, genomics, breeding, physiology, compositional analysis, grain origination and end-user applications to benefit growers.
Joe is the chief architect of the Yield Engineering System (Y.E.S.), an ambitious plan to use mathematical principles to optimize decision-making in the breeding process that has delivered $287 million in cost optimization, doubled the effectiveness of the breeding program and advanced Syngenta’s Good Growth Plan goals in a measurable way.
The success of this project has not gone unnoticed. Joe’s team received the 2015 Franz Edelman Award for Achievement in Operations Research and the Management Sciences, a prize considered the equivalent of a Nobel in its field. Syngenta won against stiff competition from IBM, Ingram Micro and the U.S. Army. The award had never before been given to anyone in agriculture.
The Edelman Award was for innovative use of analytics to grow elite seed varieties, but Joe’s team also applied the techniques to sell those seeds. Again, this had never before been done in agriculture and was recognized by the 2016 ANA Genius Award. Syngenta’s team beat competitors from IBM and Adobe Systems in the marketing Analytics Innovation category for work related to the revolutionary use of mathematics in placing Syngenta seeds
Joe holds a Ph.D. in genetics from Iowa State University, a master’s in genetics from Michigan State University, and an MBA from the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business. In addition to this, he has completed executive education courses at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, Stanford University, and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He holds more than 50 patents that have generated $1 billion in revenue.
The Aspen Institute saw Joe’s potential and invited him to become a fellow in its prestigious Business and Society program. Likewise, he is part of the Carnegie New Leaders Program from the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs.
Joe’s work has appeared in prestigious academic journals like the MIT Sloan Management Review. It has also appeared in highly technical business publications like the INFORMS journal Interfaces and ORMS Today, as well as agricultural trade publications like AgFunder and PrecisionAg. Mainstream publications like Forbes and Fast Company have also showcased his work for Syngenta.