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A Transformative Learning Journey at EWS-KT

Posted On: November 16, 2023

By Swaroop Nanu, Media and Communications Manager for Farmer Extension

Participants in the YEP program
Swaroop Nanu (far right) stands with other YEP participants in the Netherlands.

Two years ago, I started working with East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer Foundation (EWS-KT), an exciting journey with new learning each day. EWS-KT strongly believes in enhancing the knowledge and skills of its employees. I am proud to be a beneficiary of this learning philosophy, and I am pleased to share my story.

I joined EWS-KT as a Digital Media Specialist in India and Bangladesh, managing digital projects and designing digital campaigns to increase smallholder farmers’ knowledge of advanced vegetable production techniques. In this role, I frequently traveled in these two countries, interacting with farmers to understand the support they required and to identify digital solutions. 

In December 2021, EWS-KT introduced me to the Young Expert Programmes (YEP), a public-private partnership run by the Netherlands Water Partnership and sponsored by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. My enrollment in this program completely changed the way I worked, improving my skills as an individual and my achievement at my job.

YEP offers young Dutch and non-Dutch professionals the opportunity to get professional experience working in an international environment. I was part of the 25th batch of this 2-year program, along with 26 other individuals from different parts of the world. Participants work at Dutch companies or organizations (EWS-KT is a registered nonprofit organization in the Netherlands) and are mostly from the water, agro-food, and renewable energy sectors. 

As Young Experts, we received intensive training and coaching as part of the program’s learning agility approach. YEP develops participants’ strengths through training programs and cross-cultural interactions, and one thing I learned was how cultural differences impact how we work, delegate, and achieve our organizational goals.

The program structure involves initial and return training programs. In the interim period, every Young Expert works on a personal development plan, assisted and supported by a coach. My YEP coach, Paul Van Koppen, helped me set personal development goals, and I have worked toward them for the past year and a half. 

Better work management was one of my goals, and my coach offered me extensive guidance through books, videos, and other sources. These materials helped me understand the ease of an organized work approach and enabled me to harness the benefits of organization in my job. 

Developing my skills as an orator was also in my development plan, and both YEP and EWS-KT played a big role in helping me to achieve this. My YEP coach provided me with tips and tricks on speaking, and EWS-KT gave me the opportunity to represent the organization at international events and meetings, which enabled me to practice and improve my oratory skills.

Swaroop Nanu at the AVPN conference in Mumbai, India, in January 2023.

I have also received books, materials, tools, and training on various subjects that have helped me develop new skills and ways of thinking. Through YEP, I was able to identify my strengths and enhance them. 

There are several other programs that are available to EWS-KT employees to enhance their skills and knowledge. Online professional training through LinkedIn, scholarship programs for further education, and the General Vegetable Production certification program are just a few of the learning opportunities provided by EWS-KT. 

Last month, I took on the new position of Media and Communications Manager for Farmer Extension, handling farmer communication for all 10 EWS-KT countries. The internal and external learning programs available through EWS-KT are extremely helpful, and I’m happy to be utilizing them to the fullest potential to grow my career path.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my mentor, East-West Seed Global Head of Communications and Public Affairs Maaike Groot; my supervisor, EWS-KT Head of India Sathiyabama Baskaran; and EWS-KT Director Stuart Morris for taking the initiative to introduce YEP to EWS-KT, as well as my YEP Coach and Trainer Paul Van Koppen, and the YEP Programme Manager, Vincent Cornelissen.