Claudia Nari is chief product officer at Inari Agriculture, a new breeding technology company designing nature-positive seeds for a more sustainable food system. Flagship Pioneering founded the company in 2016. The company is a tenant in the Purdue Research Park of West Lafayette.
Nari generously shared her time to answer our questions.
Question: What led you to pursue your career path?
Claudia Nari: I thrive in unpredictable conditions, which makes agriculture the perfect fit for me. Just like no environment, crop or growing season is ever the same, my career path has featured a little bit of everything — from roles in plant breeding at a family-owned company to regulatory at a big corporation to now leading product development at a late-stage startup. Agriculture presents a unique challenge and opportunity, with an amazing reward: knowing you’re helping to feed the world while supporting a more sustainable future.
Q: What is something that your colleagues may not know about you?
Nari: I’ve worked in agriculture for more than 30 years, but I actually grew up as a “city person” with no real connection to this industry. I went to college intending to learn how to build and maintain golf courses. Instead, I took classes in genetics, embraced plant breeding and never looked back.
Q: What’s the biggest or scariest risk you’ve ever taken? How did you work up the nerve?
Nari: I take a similar approach to all my big decisions: consider all the facts available to me, then take the leap with conviction. This applied especially to perhaps the biggest risk in my career, which required uprooting my family’s lives in Argentina to move to another country, in another continent. It took a lot of nerve to ask my family to adapt to a new life in the U.S. while simultaneously forcing myself to learn an entirely new job. But I had carefully considered the facts, so I was also optimistic it would work out. More than 15 years later, I feel confident saying that it definitely did.
Q: What is an interesting piece of data you have found?
Nari: One insight I’ve gleaned over the years is that no matter how much data you have, there’s always a new datapoint on the horizon. I know that’s not a specific factoid, but I think it’s important food for thought! You don’t know what you don’t know, so keep looking for more data.
Q: What is one thing in your life you use every day and couldn’t live without?
Nari: My passion. That’s easier said than done some days, but as long as I have energy and love for what I do, I find that all situations are manageable — even the ones that look scary.
Q: What is something you are excited about or looking forward to in the next 12 months?
Nari: Both personally and professionally, I’m extremely excited about what’s on the horizon from Inari. What my colleagues are working to accomplish — significant increases in crop yields and significant reductions in water and fertilizer use — is incredibly bold and incredibly important. It’s an honor to have a front row seat here in West Lafayette to learn, watch and even influence the direction of some of today’s most innovative technologies, all to help build a more sustainable food system that benefits the population, the planet and the people who grow our food.
Thank you again Claudia Nari for participating in Take 6!