HR in the hot seat: Helen Clark, head of HR, APAC at Syngenta

by Miklos Bolza22 Mar 2016
What is your job title and what brought you into this particular role?
My job title is head of HR APAC. I am here on assignment from Switzerland where I was working as a global HR business partner supporting our R&D organisation.
What motivates/excites you about this role?
The enormous variety is a great motivation! We cover 15 countries in APAC and HR are present in each. Each country has its own culture and I enjoy learning about our business there, the solutions and products we supply, and our people based there. I also feel proud to support our people in making a difference for farming and farmers’ livelihoods in Asia.
What are the goals you most want to accomplish in your work?
Building talent and fuelling our talent pipeline is a key goal, especially in our agriculture industry. Opportunities are great in this sector, and growing with the new era of agriculture is exciting. That’s why we want to support our talented people to achieve their potential through job-based experiences and targeted learning.
What is your favourite aspect of the job? What’s your least favourite aspect?
The HR team feel very proud to work in Syngenta and I feel very proud to be leading them. We work hard to deliver the HR agenda but also challenge ourselves to make sure that we are adding value. We feel very proud of our function when our work is recognised in this way. The least favourite aspect can be having late-night telecoms although it’s always a pleasure to speak with colleagues based around the world.
What’s the best piece of HR advice you’ve ever received?
My favourite advice that I use in our team is “What are we trying to achieve and why?” This helps us to check if we’re adding value and being true to our purpose.
Do you have any key mentors who influenced you? If so, who?
I have had mentors for most of my career. Often they have been previous managers that I’ve kept in touch with. I like to develop an honest and open relationship with my managers and use them as sounding boards rather than problem solvers. As a result, when I have moved (or they have moved), it’s useful to keep in touch and test ideas and thoughts with them. They are very good at giving me constructive feedback!

Dhanesh Gupte, Head of Learning & Organisation Development, Asia Pacific, Syngenta is a speaker at HRD Singapore's HR Excel conference on 1-2 June. Find out more at