Category Leader for a breakthrough technology company revolutionizing healthy diet

A technology company revolutionizing a healthy diet has retained Kincannon & Reed to recruit a General Manager – Berries with the ability to develop and build the company berry business with partners, growers, and the sales channels to launch new berry varieties, brand them and deliver a superior product to consumers.

The Organization

This company believes healthy food shouldn’t be a choice—it should be a craving. Their breakthrough genome editing technologies bring exciting new products to market that are more enticing, more convenient, and more likely to end up in people’s grocery carts.

Over decades, breeders have leveraged the natural diversity in plants to bring out traits that make them more nutritious, more convenient, more affordable, and more sustainable. Using their CRISPR platform, they cut the time down to years by harnessing the power of existing genetic varieties, amplifying the good traits, and de-emphasizing the challenging ones. While technology is a great tool, the goal is to provide incentive for people to shift to healthier diets by offering desirable consumer traits like seedless, pitless, or more consistent fruits and berries.

Founded in 2017, the company raised $25M Series A funding in 2018 concurrent with an R&D deal worth $100MM, to access and develop intellectual property in row crop applications. The same year they decided to locate the company to NC and have grown to approximately 100 people.

This is a new role, responding to the excellent technical progress anticipating a market launch of the first seedless blackberries in 2023, following the launch of the first vegetable products by the company in 2022.

The Position

The General Manager – Berries reports to the Chief Business Officer/Co-Founder. The successful candidate will be a senior leader within the organization and will have responsibility for developing and building the berry business.

More specifically, the role will perform the following key responsibilities:

  • Build a deep berry value chain understanding in the organization to align all berry related activities
  • Develop and refine a consumer-focused business plan for the berry category, including product portfolio, go to market strategy, branding, pricing, and supply chain
  • Solidify packer/shipper deals, and network within the berry industry representing the Company
  • Working with R&D, external partners, growers, retailers, and consumers to optimize product positioningDevelop, grow and maintain strong long-term relationships with growers and external partners
  • Organize all pre-launch and launch activities to deliver on time and within the agreed budget
  • Participate in the development, implementation, and achievement of the annual operating plan
  • Identify and support the assessment of grower contracts, growth opportunities, and partnerships – inclusive of diligence and draft terms
  • Build operational and execution-oriented plans to deliver on key priorities, including revenue goals, growing, and processing strategies, market development approaches, product/sales tactics, and commercial reporting
  • Maintain working knowledge of key markets, commodities, and inputs, and establish indicator metrics to identify price movements
  • Lead cross-functional teams (internal/external) in the identification of capital requirements, the business case supporting category capital projects, and ultimately, the execution of the initiative
  • With partners, institute and oversee
    • Agriculture operations responsible for contracting, growing, and harvesting of the fresh products needed to meet the company’s standards for optimum quality, efficiency, and maximum profits
    • Logistics to manage the flow of goods between the point of origin and the point of consumption in the most efficient and cost-effective manner to meet the requirements of customers. This includes all inbound, intercompany, and outbound material movement
  • Establish and manage plantlet contracts, packaging, logistics & other functions for business success
  • Develop and execute strategy for international genetics deployment

Other position parameters include

  • The position is located in California near the berry markets, with a home office
  • Expected travel likely not to exceed 50% of the time. Some international travel may be necessary

Candidate Profile

We seek a dynamic and entrepreneurial leader who understands and works well with traditional berry partners and can interact efficiently with plant scientists. S/he must have experience leading several facets of the supply chain – detailed knowledge of berry growing practices, agriculture operations, logistics, planning/scheduling, and inventory management. The successful candidate will have demonstrated the ability to continuously improve a supply chain and manage complex customer needs.

The following experiences and knowledge are required or desired:

  • Minimum of 10 years of broad-based commercial and supply chain experience in berry or related industry
  • Experience bringing new technologies and/or innovation into the berry category
  • Track record of successful deal negotiations across the value chain
  • Knowledgeable about practices and common price points in the berry industry

Specific skills and education include:

  • Solid analytical skills and with an ability to translate data into fact-based decision making, supporting strategic planning and organizational design
  • Demonstrated excellence in communication and stakeholder management
  • Operationally minded with strong project management and sales/operational roll-out experience
  • Effective in data gathering, able to work in an unstructured environment
  • Ability to build strong working relationships and partnerships with clients and colleagues across departments, geographic locations, and time zones
  • Public speaking skills and ability to articulate complex concepts to cross-functional audiences
  • Demonstrated ability to engage and influence not only C-level executives but family farm stakeholders
  • Learning agility with capability to work in a technical field, specifically biotechnology and agronomics
  • High emotional intelligence and conflict resolution skills; able to effectively maintain relationships through flexibility, collaboration, and negotiation
  • Required: Bachelor’s degree in Business/ Logistics/Engineering/Supply Chain/Agriculture or related field
  • Preferred: Master’s Degree in Business, Finance, Engineering, or Supply Chain Management

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