It’s never easy moving to a new city or town as a child, but for Frederic Berry, he faced the anxiety of moving to an entirely different country – a couple of times – as a kid. He grew up in the south of France, in a small village near Toulouse, but his father’s work took the family to Greece and then to England – with a detour back to France in-between. When he was 17, Frederic’s father, a retired air force pilot working for a European Civil Aircraft manufacturer, got an assignment in New York. The family moved to Long Island.
For the introverted Frederic, it was an anxious time, even if he attended a French school through graduation.
“Being dropped into a 7-million-person metro area and not speaking the language was extremely tough. I wanted to go back home,” he recalls.
Frederic’s father sensed his son’s apprehension and decided to do something about it. The Berrys rented a motor home in order to discover their new nation. It would change Frederic’s life. Their first trip took them to Florida, where Frederic witnessed the first NASA Space Shuttle launch from Cocoa Beach. The trip later ventured West where they explored national parks.
“It tested my limits and made me open up and open my mind,” Frederic says. “It gave me an appetite to discover. It also helped me to embrace any type of foreign assignment.”
Frederic’s family moved to the Washington, D.C., area, and he attended the University of Maryland, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Agronomy. Upon graduating, Frederic’s goal was to join the Peace Corps.
“I wanted to feed people who could not grow food.”
Unfortunately, even for a volunteer role, Frederic was told he needed a PhD. and three-to-four years of work experience. He then headed to Madison, WI, where he earned a Master’s of Science in Agricultural Economics from the University of Wisconsin. After graduating, he moved to Chicago to begin working for a food processing company as a technical sales representative, learning how to network and understand products and customers.
“I learned to be a “technical” sales professional,” he says, “and then I became a salesman.”
Along the way came a son: Maximilien, his proudest accomplishment. Today ‘Max” has earned his pilot wings as a young U.S. Air Force officer following in the footsteps of Frederic’s dad (grandfather) who did the same 70 years ago when the U.S. helped its World War II allies rebuild their air forces.
Frederic’s drive, foreign languages proficiencies and ability to embrace foreign assignments soon came in handy as he was sent to open an office in Mexico. Then Argentina. Eventually, Frederic came back to the United States, and back to the D.C. area with Compass Minerals. And just over a year ago, he joined Verdesian Life Sciences as an Account Manager for the northeast United States. He was drawn to the company by its agricultural sustainability message and mission.
“We’re the leaders, the innovators in the industry. We don’t go after the masses. We are going after those who can differentiate themselves from the pack,” he says. “That’s why our technologies are simple but complex at the same time.
“It is extremely refreshing to work with a company that’s ahead of the curve, that’s not playing catch-up.”