An Interview with Luciane Balzan
As we celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day, ICL is proud to feature product manager Luciane Balzan, one of our most accomplished agronomic engineers. Luciane works at ICL Brazil and has over ten years of experience in the field of agronomy. She has actively participated in the development and launch of 6 new technologies in the last 2 years and seeks to inspire a new generation of female agronomists.
We asked Luciane a few questions about her work as a product manager at ICL Brazil, what originally motivated her to enter the agribusiness industry and her vision for the future.
Hi Luciane, can you tell us a little about your personal background and why you decided to work in agtech?
I grew up in the interior of the state of Paraná, south of Brazil, where my family has always worked in agriculture and dairy farming. My parents encouraged me to study and create my own opportunities. The big challenge was venturing away from home in a mostly male environment.
I enjoyed studying for my degree in agronomic engineering and gained some really useful foundational experience with a large agricultural group in the state of Matto Grosso. I made the transition to the corporate world, working in the market development area and now as a product manager.
Can you share a project or achievement that you are particularly proud of and why?
I’ve worked on amazing projects as a Product Manager. I’m especially proud of my contribution to the launch of products such as Nutriduo and Keep Green. There were some really talented people involved in the creation process, naming, design, and strategic positioning. It’s incredible to have contributed to such important agribusiness innovations.
Can you share a specific example of how you have advocated for diversity and inclusion in your field?
Whenever possible, I try to share my life experience with other women. This can be in everyday situations through example and advice, or at conferences and professional events.
In your opinion, what needs to be done to encourage more women to enter and
succeed in fields such as life sciences, research, and technology?
The most important step is simply to encourage others through leadership and by setting an example. Positive role models quickly help to overcome any lack of confidence and can overturn prejudgments about technical capacity and delivery of results. We also need to work systematically to create opportunities and give women space to develop. Talented women will reach leadership positions, but through genuine meritocracy – not via “quotas”.
Can you share some examples of innovative solutions or initiatives that you have seen or been a part of that have had a positive impact on gender equality in technology?
We have two examples within ICL itself, in which I had the opportunity to participate.
Example 1: In 2021, the Human Resources team at ICL promoted mentoring among women,
with periodic meetings between mentor and mentored aimed at the professional development
Example 2: A group called Agro Women was created. In this group, made up mainly of women with functions related to the areas of science, research, and agribusiness, meetings with female leaders and exchange of experiences are promoted.
How do you balance your personal and professional responsibilities and what advice can you offer to women facing similar challenges?
It’s a big challenge. If you aren’t careful, work demands will consume all of your time, including evenings, weekends, and holidays. However, taking time off to replenish your energy is important. That’s why I always set aside quality time to spend with my family and friends and keep my life healthy by practicing sports, reading a book and cultivating positive emotions. As advice: Manage your energy, not your time. Time is finite, but personal energy is renewable.
The field of Agribusiness is constantly evolving. How do you stay current and continue to grow and develop professionally?
It helps that I’m fascinated by my work and by new technologies and challenges. I read a lot of books, listen to podcasts, and consume a lot of content at conferences and online
courses. I am currently enrolled in a leadership mentorship program for women and a specific course for Product Managers.
What advice would you give to young women aspiring to work in life sciences, research, technology, or unconventional roles?
Make a plan and stay focused! We often let life take us and grab what appears. We need to be more strategic, have self-awareness and draw up plans. I really like to imagine how I want to be in 3-5 years and based on that make decisions today. What points do I need to improve to achieve what I want? What course do I need to take? Where do I want to be living? Do I want to be single or married with kids?
Decide where you want to go and don’t stop until you get there. That said, you still need to be flexible enough to react to unexpected opportunities or events.
Finally, What motivates you?
Personal Motivation: Bring comfort to my family, secure my future, and see the world.
Professional Motivation: Make a difference, through my contributions or by setting an example. Agribusiness can change the world for the better and I feel that my work has real value. We’re doing something for the whole human race and for the planet.
ICL is committed to diversity and inclusion. Our goal is to create a workplace where every employee can develop their individual talents and reach their innate human potential. It’s these strengths that are driving our global business and helping us to make a real difference wherever we do business.
More on the subject:
Women Leadership and Innovation, Continuing to Make an Impact: An Interview
with Manon Aggenbach
Women of ICL – Making an Impact in STEM and Science
Women of ICL – Inspiring Others: An Interview with Nancy Stachiw