A snapshot of the Syngenta Business Institute

By |  December 12, 2013

The Syngenta Business Institute invited 25 superintendents to the Graylyn International Conference Center, outside of Wake Forest University for their fifth event, this week. I was seated with the other members of the media in the back of the conference room for the first few days and was taken back to school.

Unfortunately for me, the first topic under discussion was accounting. Accounting utilizes something that has long been a foreign language to me, math. A true four letter word, I cringe at the very thought of formulas and plus signs. They know that I don’t comprehend their meaning, so they dance before me, mocking me the whole time. However, as I sat in the back of the conference room this week I saw a room full of superintendents soaking up each word eagerly. They may not be fans of equations or charts full of numbers, but each of them found the information very important.

This year’s event had 82 applicants. Each applied because they wanted to pick up more business skills to utilize at their course. The attendees took each moment to soak up information whether it was a crash course on accounting (complete with the prof asking questions to quiz his students), or a trick card game. Speaking of which, speaker Amy Wallis began her lecture with a game of cards. Her presentation covered some of the challenges when dealing with a culturally diverse work force. She broke superintendents into groups, gave them a deck of cards and a sheet of rules. Then silence. Communication was not allowed while they played a tournament that rotated players around the room. After much frustration, attendees discovered that they were all playing by different rules. For a few minutes, the room rang with calls of “You’re all cheating!” and “None of you read the rules!” But then, the lesson began to sink in. When dealing with workers from different cultures, everyone plays by different rules. Attendees started discussing this in relation to a season on their course and saw the connection immediately.

We each come from different backgrounds. Some of us are given a blue paper with rules on how to play the game before us and some are given a yellow paper. Regardless of what your rules are, learning and adapting are vital. The superintendents who were selected to attend this year’s Syngenta Business Institute were there to absorb everything they could, whether it was math or cards or ways to forge new connections with those around them.

And so, in the wise words of G.I. Joe, “Knowing is half the battle.”


Photo: Syngenta


Photo: Syngenta



Photo: Syngenta

If you are interested in applying for next year, an application can be found on greencastonline.com or at the Golf Industry Show in Orlando. Applicants must write an essay expressing why they would be the best choice to attend the Syngenta Business Institute for the coming year.

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About the Author: Molly Gase

Molly Gase was an Associate Editor for Golfdom and Athletic Turf. Gase is a recent graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University with a master’s degree in Magazine, Newspaper and Online Journalism.

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