GCVI Summit 2018
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Powerlist S

Alex Steel took over leadership of Switzerland-based agricultural company Syngenta’s corporate venturing unit at the beginning of this year. He moved to the role having been a mergers and
acquisitions (M&A) project leader at Syngenta, where he has worked since 2009.

Before this Steel was at UK-based accountancy firm Grant Thornton from the beginning of 2000.

He said: “At Grant Thornton I was either buying or selling mid-market family-owned companies or entrepreneurial businesses. The logic behind my branching out into the corporate world was rather
than getting transactions done and moving, I wanted to see how in the long term M&A can drive and develop the business.”

He added: “I am a chartered accountant by background and a finance guy by heart.” He has previously worked at accountancy firm Rawlinsons. He studied economics and geography at University of Portsmouth.

Lessons from the top: Steel said: “Corporate venture has to be a component of your strategy. People recognise innovation comes from external early-stage start-up companies. If you do not do corporate venturing you come along to M&A deals and you find they have relationships already tied up with another competitor who have invested in them before you even knew of them. Be clear about the objectives you have as a corporate venturing unit. One of the things I picked up talking to other corporate venture capital units is what people are using the corporate venturing vehicle for is a little different. You must be clear at the outset what is the objective for the corporate venturing unit. If the objectives are lined up, the thing has a chance of working.”