Seed World

How to Become an Effective CEO of Your Career 

We sat down with Jovan Djordjevic, director of education at UC Davis’ Seed Biotechnology Center (SBC) and co-founder of Murray River Seeds, to talk about why continuing education is worth the investment, no matter what part of the seed value chain you call home.

SW: You’re a plant breeder first and foremost, as well as a business owner and an entrepreneur. Tell me about how you first got connected to continuing education? 

Djordjevic: I began my career in Serbia as a corn breeder before transitioning to roles in France and Canada, where I led Monsanto’s corn and canola hybrid breeding. In 2010, I shifted my focus to vegetables, leading solanum & sweet corn breeding. Later, I served as the global R&D and strategic crop lead for Bayer and BASF, where my responsibilities included designing and implementing the global R&D strategy for cucurbits crops.

Much of my work involved leading teams, and I reached a point where I was eager to develop our internal talent further. While we had considerable potential within the company, we lacked the structured time for professional education. What we required was a program tailored specifically to building capacity within the seed industry. Then, the UC Davis Seed Biotechnology Centre (SBC) emerged and, seeing the value to the industry, I got involved.

SW: The SBC started by offering an intensive two-year program called the UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy, which to date has graduated more than 400 students. The SBC also offers short courses geared towards a much broader cross-section of the seed value chain, correct? 

Djordjevic: We heard from the industry that, while having a flagship UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy is great, there are numerous other needs within the seed industry for staff development. This includes areas such as seed production, operations, marketing, sales, finance, etc. Our Seed Business 101, a one-week course, was established approximately 15 years ago to address these needs. Today, the SBC offers nearly 15 short classes, available both in person and online.

SW: A lot of people mistakenly assume that educational courses through UC Davis SBC must be geared towards experienced plant breeding professionals. Who actually signs up for your courses? 

Djordjevic: I’d say that one in five people in our courses is a plant breeding professional. The seed industry involves a wide array of other functions: seed production, marketing, intellectual property and regulatory affairs, administration, and more. Our courses aren’t solely intensive plant breeding deep dives; we offer a range of topics to cater to all levels of the seed industry, from seed biology and quality to leadership programs for breeders and scientists, to innovation and strategy, seed production, and beyond.

SW: Why should someone consider participating in the UC Davis Plant Breeding Academy or one or more of the short courses? 

Djordjevic: You’re the CEO of your career. When you’re busy, remember to look where you’re going. Why wouldn’t you invest in yourself? Continuing education holds incredible value for both professional and personal growth. It’s amazing what this kind of professional development can do for company businesses, too.

Moreover, we have great teachers with extensive direct industry experience, not just academia. One cannot find this in any textbook. Our teaching model is renowned: “100 years of experience in every classroom”.

SW: Let’s talk about the partnership between UC Davis and Seed World Group. Together, we are offering new SBC students a 20% enrollment discount off all short courses. Why is it so important for all parts of the seed value chain to jump on this opportunity?

Djordjevic: First, I must commend Seed World Group’s vision for partnering with us to strengthen our seed industry through education. 

We have a big challenge ahead of us. We need to innovate and continuously develop new and improved varieties, year after year, to feed a fast-growing human population. Additionally, we must address the climate challenge and, consequently, reduce environmental impact. We believe that a big part of the solution — one in which we can directly contribute — lies in continuing education. The SBC represents a collective industry-wide commitment to ongoing education and, most importantly, to fostering innovation.

If you are interested in learning more about seed-specific continuing education through the SBC, visit

To sign up for a short course and access the 20% discount available exclusively through Seed World Group, email