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The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increasing global concern — especially around its impact on the global food supply chain. Our team often receives questions, comments and concerns from food safety professionals in our network. Many companies look for better ways to understand, measure, monitor and prevent the food safety risks the outbreak may be creating. One of the major concerns is the effect that the outbreak has on the logistics of the supply chain. Many people also worry about finding ways to assess and control transmission risks.

All colleagues we talk to are carefully following announcements, recommendations and guidelines published by official, trusted authorities such as WHO, EFSA, BfR and FDA. It is crucial to continuously monitor and analyze data that comes from as many official and trusted data sources around the world as possible. It can help everyone in the supply chain to quickly identify any increasing risk trends or incidents that need global attention. It may also help identify insights that should be rapidly communicated to all food safety and quality professionals in the supply chain. …

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Photo by Davor Denkovski on Unsplash

I was looking at the tired faces in the video call. Their eyes were red, with black circles underneath. Their shoulders were rounded and bent. Only one or two made an effort to smile. A dozen of young, bright and ambitious CEOs were in this regular weekly call — but this time they all looked extremely troubled.

In the round that followed, everyone shared their news and updates. Some of the businesses had been hit really hard by CODIV-19. Some others had to discover an alternative supplier or distribution channel on the fly. …

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Photo by Lee Weng on Unsplash

During the first 3–4 years of our company, I was so much busy. I was constantly after a deadline, a project, a client, a crisis. I didn’t have time to do any thinking. I didn’t believe that I needed to. After all, I was thinking about the business all the time.

Then, my business partner and I decided to find some quiet, undisturbed time on our own. Whenever we had the opportunity, we devoted some morning time for coffee, breakfast and discussion. Some great brainstorming took place during those mornings. But it was not enough. Not systematic, nor structured. …

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Photo by Gez Xavier Mansfield on Unsplash

An essential question to all the CEOs out there, before I start digging into the 10 Essentials: why do you do this job?

I started my business because I enjoyed problem solving. I liked addressing a new challenge. I loved winning a bid and starting a new project. As an employee, there were limitations in things that I was allowed to do. I wanted sky to be my limit; therefore, I took off.

Ten years later, I kept on flying. But I had no idea where to. I have been enjoying the trip. But I had no idea about the destination. My road was long, full of adventure, full of discovery. …

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It’s a dirty job, but… (Photo by Todd Quackenbush on Unsplash)

Doing this job has been a learning journey. I’ve been digging into books, attending seminars, watching online courses, asking consultants to help, and so much more. From each of these resources, I got something back: a tool that I can use at work, an idea that I can try, some insight into the way a functional position works, or a different perspective about how we can implement something. But there is one book that has completely changed the way I view, understand and practice doing business: Scaling Up by Verne Harnish.

I believe that Scaling Up is an essential manual for every CEO.

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Good food is important, for sure (Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash)

Let me state the obvious: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. I have read all about it in business books, with my favorite one being Delivering Happiness (describing the Zappos case).

It is all about the set of values that drive our work lives every day. Values that should express the way in which everyone in a team is expected to behave, as well as explain which factors need to be considered before (and after) every decision.

Simple and obvious, but also the most difficult task that I have undertaken so far in my career as a CEO.

Building and growing a values-driven organization is extremely difficult. …

Things are changing so fast in the food sector. Food safety has emerged as a critical topic that is high in the agenda of consumers, governments and the food industry alike. It took a series of food safety scandals and public health incidents for the industry to take some serious steps in establishing a food safety culture and align its standards through the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI). Governments are also applying stricter policy and legislation, such as the integrated Food Safety policy of the European Commission and the US Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). …

Here is what’s on top of my reading list at the minute. It’s a booklet all about the way you can be crystal clear on the added value you bring to your clients. It’s Intercom’s Sales Handbook , a collection of actionable lessons from industry leaders, like Jill Konrath:

“Seeing things differently is exactly what makes great salespeople so good at their jobs.”

I highly recommend this handbook to people with an interest in developing a sales strategy, growing a sales team and understanding modern sales techniques. …

Do you always feel like going to work on Monday? Do you ever have one of those lazy weekends you enjoy so much that it makes you wish Monday would never come? Have you ever experienced such a challenging time at work that it makes you wish the weekend would never end?

And what about CEOs? Are they normal human beings? Do they ever wish they didn’t have to go to work on Monday?

Let me share my experience.

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A CEO that loves Fridays.

I found out I was a CEO in 2013; that is, almost 5 years after I co-founded Agroknow. A colleague from Michigan State University invited me to talk at an event they were hosting. She asked me for my job title. I wasn’t sure what to say. She said “Nikos, it’s obvious that you are the CEO of your company”. I Googled it to make sure it was correct. …

The world’s largest global agricultural innovation network. Bringing together the scientific power of 15 independent, non-profit research organizations. Amassing an annual investment of more than US$900 million devoted to global food security. Being the home of more than 11,000 scientists, researchers, technicians, and staff. Working hard in more than 70 countries to create a better future for the world’s poor.

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More than 11,000 people in over 70 countries, working on a better future (Photo by Hưng Nguyễn Việt on Unsplash)

We have been working on several projects for the CGIAR, but I think that this is the one that can make a real difference. The stakes are so high for the CGIAR Platform for Big Data in Agriculture: it has promised to transform all CGIAR’s scientific information into a powerful scientific data engine for global food security. …


Nikos Manouselis

Co-founder and CEO of Agroknow, the food safety intelligence company that has been serving agriculture and food clients globally for more than a decade.

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