Wessel van Leeuwen

Lead Trait & Technolgies, R&D Division

Wessel van Leeuwen

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“Hazera has an R&D environment that stimulates and enables innovative tool creation for breeding. Being part of this is what gives me a daily boost to create, with my team, the innovations that will make a difference”.
After 14 years of plant molecular research at Wageningen and Amsterdam Universities, Wessel started in 2009 in Hazera as a molecular geneticist for Crucifers and later also for Alliums. After seeing breeding-technology (BT) grow over a period of 7 years he was given the opportunity in 2016 to lead the group of BT Allium and Crucifers specialists. As he was and still is involved in many projects, sometimes with 20 team members or more, he can easily relate to the problems facing these projects. So, with these projects he brings his expertise, acts as a soundboard and helps solve issues together. “Creating interactions, both within the team as with experts in LVS (Limagrain Vegetables Seeds), and thereby improving our common output towards innovative R&D, really gives me energy”. Dynamism is the core value that suits him best, as he thrives in the dynamic R&D environment that is created together within Hazera. The complexity of research is what makes it interesting. The diversity of expertise and characters between people in a global company creates a dynamic environment. Aligning opinions between a diverse group of knowledgeable experts however, is the biggest challenge. He really enjoys providing the energy to stimulate innovative ideas and interactions. Hazera is a company with many dedicated, talented people who are given the opportunity to make a difference. Hazera has the professional environment with the flexibility to adapt and this is what is needed in research.
Marjolein Hunck  | Hazera The Netherlands

Tomato Breeder, R&D Division

Marjolein Hunck | Hazera The Netherlands

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I really like the fact that I have the opportunity at Hazera not only to breed and grow tomatoes, but also to learn and grow my skills and to develop myself as a person.”
During her studies in Plant Science at Wageningen University, Marjolein was given the opportunity to complete her studies with an internship at Hazera. Her project was to start a QTL analysis in the Tomato Breeding Department. The successful internship, during which both Marjolein and Hazera enjoyed their collaboration, led to Marjolein’s first job as a Breeding Assistant. Now, 4 years later, she can call herself a Tomato Breeder with full responsibility regarding the tomato breeding program. “I really like the fact that I have the opportunity at Hazera not only to breed and grow tomatoes, but also to learn and grow myself as a person. I started a QTL project 4 years ago, as part of my internship, and now we are in the final stages with me having full responsibility! I wouldn’t have thought that was going to happen when I first stepped through these doors”, explains Marjolein. As a Tomato Breeder Marjolein is in contact with different departments on both operational and strategic levels. “My work is very varied; I work in the greenhouses to evaluate plants but I also spend time behind the computer making data analyses. I keep in touch with the marketing team on how to promote different tomato hybrids and I visit our customers abroad in Poland and France to see how our tomatoes are growing in different environments. A week is never the same!” Besides doing her daily job, Marjolein is able to get to know Hazera through different perspectives. Hazera trained Marjolein to become an internal auditor. She also likes to get involved in the informal side of things as she is secretary of the “Personeelsvereniging” (PV), where she and other members of the PV organize informal activities for Hazera employees. “I think having fun and doing something different with your colleagues is important. There is an open and friendly atmosphere within the company and it’s always nice to organize something for your colleagues where people are having fun. Or at least I hope they are.” “Ultimately, the combination of my job as a Tomato Breeder, the opportunity to grow as a person and the people who work at Hazera is what makes me want to get on my bike and cycle to work every day. Although every job and person is different, I would recommend Hazera to everyone. And who knows, we may even see the people reading this on our next office barbecue.”
Daniel Koster | Hazera Israel

Project Leader Technology Development, Breeding Technology unit

Daniel Koster | Hazera Israel

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I am fortunate to have been given the opportunity to help advancing Hazera and the industry by developing disruptive technologies that will be used by our breeders."
Daniel Koster joined the company about three years ago, following an academic career that included a Ph.D. in Biophysics and a post-doctorate in Systems Biology at the Weizmann Institute, which was completed parallel to his immigration from the Netherlands. He encountered Hazera by accident, when he performed before the Dutch community in Israel (playing the clarinet). At the end of the concert, Daniel spoke to a Hazera company worker who suggested that he meet with Zur Granevitze, who at the time was director of the company's Breeding Technologies division. Daniel says that prior to joining Hazera, agriculture had seemed to him to be a rather traditional field, without much technological innovation. The professional interview with Zur and the common language he found with him convinced him that there was significant potential for technology to guide and support breeding. Currently, Daniel leads an innovative research project in the field of phenotyping that is funded by the Israeli Chief Scientist. "Accurate and low-cost phenotyping of all relevant parameters for breeders in the actual growing area (greenhouse, open-field etc.) is not possible currently, and this is a major gap in advancing efficient data-driven breeding and agriculture in general". The project is carried out in collaboration with other companies and leading researchers from the academic world, and involves applied research that utilizes deep learning algorithms (computer vision). That technology is amazing and very powerful: cars can drive themselves, computers can hold conversations with humans without humans discovering that they talk to computers and much more. For us the challenge is to adapt and implement that kind of technology for breeding within Hazera. It is not easy, but we know the benefit for our company could be very significant. Alongside the dynamism and sense of being pioneers in the field of precision agriculture, Daniel also notes he is inspired by the talented members of the team, and connecting fields, as well as belonging to the “mother” company, Limagrain Group, that adds a long-term and global perspective and vision.
Asaf Stern | Hazera Israel

Africa Sales Manager

Asaf Stern | Hazera Israel

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Hazera is a large and global company that offers diversity, challenges, career opportunities and extraordinarily interesting work.
Asaf Stern, an agronomist by training, joined the company 10 years ago as the Negev Sales Manager within the company's Commercial division. After four years, he moved to the overseas sales management in the Balkans and later to the French-Italian market. He was recently appointed to manage Hazera’s sales in Africa. His career development track reflects the company's employment horizon: "Hazera enables employees to develop personal and professional skills, including overseas options”. He finds it interesting and challenging to work with farmers, and finds that this work requires deep professional understanding and good communication with people.