Cultivating Tomorrow: Clare Doyle on Ag Innovation & Sustainability

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Meet Clare Doyle, the dynamic and accomplished CEO of Verdesian Life Sciences, a visionary leader at the forefront of sustainable business practices. Clare’s journey to the top has been nothing short of impressive, with a wealth of experience that has shaped her into a true industry trailblazer. Before taking the helm at Verdesian, Clare served as the Chief Sustainability Officer for Masonite International, a role she undertook in October 2021. In this capacity, she played a pivotal role in crafting and executing the company’s ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) strategy. Clare’s commitment to sustainability is not just a job requirement; it’s a passion that drives her to make a positive impact on the world through business practices. Clare’s journey with Masonite began in 2016 when she joined as the Senior Vice President and Business Leader-Global Components. Her strategic vision and leadership skills quickly propelled her to the position of Senior Vice President and General Manager-Masonite Europe, showcasing her ability to navigate and thrive in diverse business environments. Prior to her tenure at Masonite, Clare made significant contributions to Elementis plc from 2010 to 2016, culminating in her role as Vice President of Marketing. Her innovative approach to marketing and keen understanding of market dynamics earned her recognition as a driving force within the organization. Notably, Clare spent over a decade with Rohm and Haas Company, where she honed her skills in product management and marketing. This experience laid the foundation for her success in subsequent roles, showcasing her resilience and adaptability in a rapidly evolving corporate landscape. Educationally, Clare holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Tulane University, demonstrating her strong foundation in technical expertise. She further enriched her knowledge by obtaining an MBA from Columbia University, solidifying her business acumen and strategic thinking. Clare’s commitment to continuous learning is evident in her completion of a yearlong program at the Higher Ambition Leadership Institute. Additionally, she holds a Sustainable Capitalism Certificate from Berkeley Law Executive Education, underscoring her dedication to integrating sustainability into the core of corporate practices.

In essence, Clare Doyle is not just a CEO, she’s a visionary leader with a multifaceted background, a passion for sustainability, and a track record of success that has left an indelible mark on every organization she has been a part of. As she steers Verdesian Life Sciences toward a sustainable future, Clare remains an inspiration for aspiring leaders in the corporate world.

Verdesian is a very promising company. What brought you to Verdesian and BioAg because you have been, at least on the face of it, in an unrelated business?

Absolutely. I believe in the potential of Verdesian Life Sciences. Verdesian has a tremendous impact on the industry and society, and I feel we can get it to the next level. I’m happy to join the company and am tremendously impressed with the talent and the passion within it. I’m also impressed with the connection and the dedication to our customers. I’m very happy to be here.
I have been asked this question several times over the last few months. It is simple to be a part of an industry and a company that has a long-lasting legacy. Verdesian exists to help growers improve yields and improve crop quality. We do this with environmentally responsible solutions that lead to better water quality and soil health.

Let’s talk about little bits of challenges; coming into a new industry, new segment, or a company that is really rising may have some challenges also. What are your ultimate quick wins or low-hanging fruits?

The agribusiness industry as a whole has had a number of challenges and, again, I believe we’re coming out of it. I believe there’s great potential going forward. So, my immediate short counter challenges are to actually get to know the business, get to know the customers, get to know the markets. I need to do that very quickly and I need to reaffirm to everybody that the trajectory that Verdesian has been on, that commitment to innovation, is going to continue. None of those things are going to change, and it’s important that I get out there and communicate those things.

Verdesian has a full product range with innovation, but I see a lot of your new products coming with the soil health and looking at these things from the personal and innovation points of view, what are your must-win battles?

If I think about the battles and the opportunities, those things absolutely go together. We have got to be able to communicate clearly, simply, and with data that supports it, like how our products work together, and how our products work in various systems. It’s a complex universe, and we’ve got to be able to communicate that simply and accurately and even be able to talk about where we’re going and how everything links together. We’ve got so much going on there could be a lot of noise and confusion – that’s our challenge in the short term. We’ve got to be able to communicate to everybody about where we’re going, what we’re focusing on, and how everything all works together.

How would you describe your professional journey? What has been your favorite part?

I have an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from Tulane University which has given me a foundation of science and problem-solving. I spent the early years of my career in the semiconductor industry. At one point I found myself buying a book in an airport bookstore to figure out how to write a business plan and I realized I should go to business school to continue my education. I understood the technology of customer applications but needed to better understand how business worked. I did my master’s from Columbia University Business School and joined Rohm and Haas when I graduated.As much as I learned in school, it didn’t compare to the education I got from Rohm and Haas – the importance of business processes, particularly the impact of a strong innovation model and the value of customer relationships and collaboration in an innovation process. From Rohm and Haas, I went to Elementis Specialties, which was a smaller specialty chemical company where I had the chance to join the leadership team and have a greater impact on strategy and culture. I later joined Masonite and had the opportunity to own a P&L and be part of the executive leadership team of a publicly-traded company. At Masonite, I ran the $300M global Components business and a team of 2,000 people. After 2 years, I relocated to the UK to run Masonite Europe. The business had grown through acquisition, and I was asked to pull it together as one team and to help them realize greater profitability.
I returned to the US 2 years ago so my daughter could go to HS and assumed the role of CSO for Masonite – it’s been a great experience but have remained hungry to be back in a P&L role and leading both culture and strategy and helping a business achieve more.
The most favorite part of my entire career has been the leadership of teams. I enjoy the team dynamic and thrive when I am surrounded by talented and motivated individuals. This is what I have found at Verdesian.

From a leadership point of view, what do you think was the most challenging time, and how did you overcome it?

There isn’t any one time that stands out as uniquely the most challenging. Change in itself is challenging and yet across my career, I have constantly been surrounded by change. What I do recall as a new experience that I found very stressful was managing a large team during COVID. Balancing the needs to keep employees safe, to keep customers operational, and to satisfy the demands of local governments was tough but I managed to get through it with the strong team that I had at the time.

Verdesian is the host partner for BioAgTech World Congress 2024 being organized in Raleigh, NC. What are your expectations from the congress and what role do you think BAW Congress plays in facilitating the shift to agriculture sustainability?

First and foremost, we are very excited and honored that the Research Triangle Park region of North Carolina will get to play co-host to this important event. It’s a tremendous opportunity to host it in our own backyard. The BioAgTech World Congress is one of the premier events in our industry that speaks to the importance of agricultural sustainability – a topic that Verdesian embraces. It just makes sense that we would partner with this important event.