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15 Interviews with Food Industry Professionals to Inspire You To Go Into Food

Nicole Gallace, Chief Messenger

Company – FoodGrads

Years worked in current role – Under 1

Years of experience in the industry 9+

In 300 characters or less, describe your job –

I support students and new grads to start their career in food and I LOVE to spread awareness of what a great industry this is, encouraging young people to pursue a career in food. I also recruit for the food industry too (in my spare time).

Name the top 3 characteristics you need to be good at your job –

  1. Enjoy working with people
  2. Communication skills
  3. Aptitude for social media and learning new ways to connect with people

Why did you decide to pursue a career in the food industry – 

This career sort of found me!  I was a generalist recruiter and I didn’t like being ‘jack of all trades and master of nothing’ so I decided to focus on the food sector. FoodGrads was founded based on seeing a huge need and gap in the industry.

Top 3 advice tips for students and new grads coming into the industry  

  1. Be open minded
  2. Read tons of books!
  3. Have fun.

Tell us why your FoodJobRocks? –

I love what I do.  I am motivated by the people I work with and the passion they have for this industry.  I’m having fun!

Favourite Quote – 

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give” – Sir Winston Churchill

“This too shall pass”

Taylor McNerney, Marketing Manager

Company  Griffith Foods

Years worked in current role  2

Years of experience in the industry  8

In 300 characters or less, describe your job 

As Marketing Manager for Griffith Foods, I get to work with our Sales, Culinary and R&D Teams, to help bring the best ideas and products to our customers. No day is ever the same! I work with an amazing team of passionate and dedicated people all striving to ‘create better together’.

Name the top 3 characteristics you need to be good at your job 

  1. Team Player
  2. Strategic Thinker
  3. Creativity

Why did you decide to pursue a career in the food industry 

I have always loved food! Cooking it, eating it, learning about new trends and sharing this passion with others. I was looking for a career that would allow me to combine this love of food, with my interest in marketing and business development. After joining the food industry, I really started to understand the opportunities that a career is food could bring. Its a diverse industry, with so many people that share a passion in bringing the best food possible to consumers.

Top 3 advice tips for students and new grads coming into the industry 

  1. It doesn’t matter where you get your start. Sometimes this means taking a lower level position than you feel you deserve. Get in, then your hard work and intelligence will get you to the next level.
  2. Love what you do and the people you work with. Life is too long to dread Mondays.
  3. Never stop learning. Always think about the next degree, or certification, that will keep you relevant and set you apart from your peers.

Tell us why your FoodJobRocks? 

Its all about the people. Not only amazing people within Griffith, but we have amazing customers too. Each one has their own unique challenges, as well as opportunities to help shape the future of food in Canada.

Favourite Quote 

“The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be half so wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse” – Helen Keller

Marina Chan Culinary Talent Recruiter (Facebook)

Company: Flagship @ Facebook

Years worked in current role: Almost 2

Years of experience in food industry: 9

In 300 characters or less describe your job:

Ever changing. I handle job fairs, sourcing and recruitment. I get to interact with Global Directors for the Culinary Program daily and it’s exciting. I interview and talk to people who are ‘green’ to having 20+ years in the industry who come from a variety of backgrounds and specialize in different areas. Stages are important and we continue to hold that tradition here on campus. All our recruits go through a series of interviews before getting to the stage. I help with job descriptions, open enrollment, Servsafe programs, safety meetings, and outreach with local culinary schools.

What are the top 3 characteristics you need to be good at your job:

  1. Be bold and fearless
  2. Original
  3. Adventurous

Why did you decide to pursue a career in food?

I have always loved food from a very young age. For as long as I could remember we always grew fruit and veggies at home and used them to cook meals with. I think that’s where my love and appreciation for food came from. I knew that I wanted to enter the industry when I grew up. After graduating from high school I went to culinary school, absorbed everything I could and always stayed late to learn more. I worked a few years as a savory cook in country clubs and then moved into Pastry. When I came to Silicon Valley I knew I needed a change and that’s when I started looking into corporate dining. Wow! Very different world. My managerial skills and knowledge in the kitchen landed me a job as a Recruiter.

Top 3 advice tips for students and new grads coming into the industry  

  1. NEVER stop learning!
  2. Be open to new techniques and ideas
  3. Be humble

Tell us why your Food Job Rocks?

My Food Job Rocks because I landed my dream job. I work on site at the worlds largest social media company in the world. I get to interact with people from all walks of life while making an impact on those around me. I get to experience a very unique work environment that empowers individuals especially women.

Favourite quote?

What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Sheryl Sandberg

A Dietary Aide (Food Service & Nutrition Management Student) at Aramark is so proud 

Dietary Aide (Food Service & Nutrition Management Student)

Company:  ARAMARK (Haldimand War Memorial Hospital & Edgewater Gardens Long-Term Care Campus)

Years worked in current role:  9 years

Years of experience in food industry: 14

In 300 characters or less describe your job:

Healthcare food services gives you the experience to work hands on with many different patients / residents.  These are people here due to injury or declining health issues, you have to have graduated to work in healthcare food services.  You have to have your Food Handler Training Certificate from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.  Cooking in healthcare is very particular, we follow therapeutic menu’s for different diets and textures (regular diets, diabetics, healthy hearts, gluten free, lactose, allergies etc.) Also, some residents having a variety of ailments making it challenging for them to eat certain food from a physical perspective.  There are many factors to consider!  The number one responsibility is making sure residents are happy and we provide a positive experience for them.  I have a very rewarding job.

What are the top 3 characteristics you need to be good at your job:  

  1. Committed
  2. Passionate
  3. Self-Motivated/Ambitious

Why did you decide to pursue a career in food?  

I graduated from Niagara College with a diploma in Hotel & Restaurant Management and I was leaning more towards working in the Hotel industry.  Then a position opened up in my local hospital and long-term care campus. Â I was offered the job, enrolled and completed the Food Service Worker course through Loyalist College. My goal was always to work in a management / leadership role and my Food Service Director encouraged and endorsed me to enroll in the Food Service & Nutrition Management course through HealthcareCAN (Canadian Healthcare Association). Today I have almost completed four of the six courses and can’t wait to see where my journey in food services takes me next!

Top 3 advice tips for students and new grads coming into the industry:

  1. Set goals and focus on the positive outcomes.
  2. Always take chances and learn from your mistakes.
  3. Listen to those who have experience in the industry as they may have valuable knowledge and skills to share with you.  Also always jump at the chance to receive free educational experiences (webinars, food shows etc.)

Tell us why your Food Job Rocks? 

My job rocks because I get to bring joy and happiness to those I cook and serve. It’s great to hear how something you cooked for them brighten their day, or how they are just happy to engage in some friendly conversation.

Favourite quote? 

“Let food be your medicine” – Hippocrates

Chef Gigi Gaggero, Founder

Company: Kids Culinary Adventures

Years worked in current role: 13

Years of experience in food industry: 35

In 300 characters or less describe your job: 

I am a classically trained Chef and Pastry Chef. Also trained FOH. Hotel and restaurant experience. Former Academic Director, Le Cordon Bleu in San Francisco Ca. I noticed the influx of high school graduates coming into the culinary education industry and I wondered who was teaching kids prior to that. So I opened a professional cooking school for Kids ages 3-18. Now, I’m a food and nutrition writer.

What are the top 3 characteristics you need to be good at your job:

  1. My job requires a business background,
  2. vast culinary skills
  3. strong experience in leadership and relationship management.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in food?

Because I love to cook, I love to eat, and I am a hospitality person by nature. We are born, not made.

Top 3 advice tips for students and new grads coming into the industry  

1 Never stand idol. If you have downtime- clean. And don’t complain. EVER! Complain in the privacy of your home and never at work. You can go scream in the walk-in if you need to. Alone.

2 Keep your head down (meaning work and stay focused) and your mouth shut (meaning -no talking) work quick and precise. Labor $ count as much as food cost and waste. Don’t make mistakes, and make everything look the same. If the strawberry is on demo plate at 11 o’clock and you have 1000 plates after that, every strawberry will be placed at 11 o’clock. Carry a pen and note pad in your chef jacket, – if you need to remember anything – write it down so you don’t have to ask the chef again .

3 Watch and learn . Keep your ego out of it. You are just beginning your culinary journey even though you have worked very hard already and graduated. Now, the real work will begins – stay humble and rotate all stations at work if you can.  But remember, if you are placed working in the pantry you should master it before you think you can move anywhere else on the line. Whatever you are assigned to, do it the best. Be the person that says, “Yes, right away Chef” and move like you mean it.

Tell us why your Food Job Rocks?

I am also the former Dean/ Academic Director of Le Cordon Bleu in SF Ca. I noticed the influx of high school graduates coming straight into the culinary industry right after graduation. I wondered who was teaching any kind of culinary life skills prior to that. I decided to open up a professional culinary school for children. We anchored math, reading, science,  and art including – nutrition to the medium of cooking. We’ve helped thousands of families learn to eat better, cleaner and safer. The best part is seeing the children learn how to cook professionally and clean up after. They would actually influence their partners and care givers to be a better shopper and eat more nutritionally – added benefit is that the kids were understanding their math, science, geography and history school work better. We believe a child can do anything if you just teach to a place they understand and can connect. Many times that’s food. The outcomes of been amazing. It feels good to help change lives in a positive way .

Favourite quote?

“The silverware had a fight, the knife and spoon were right…so the fork left” ~Me

Director of Operations at Nutra Services

Company: Nutra Services Inc.

Years worked in current role: 2 years

Years of experience in food industry: 25 years

In 300 characters or less describe your job:

I am the senior leader, reporting to the owner of our parent company Brown’s Dining Solutions, of the largest independently owned food service contractor in Canada focusing on the Seniors industry. I have 2 district managers, 400 employees who report to me and I do everything from Human Resources, Labour Relations, Client Relations, Sales/ Business Development, Policy Development, the list never ends!

What are the top 3 characteristics you need to be good at your job:

  1. Flexibility
  2. Patience
  3. Organization skills

Why did you decide to pursue a career in food?

At a very young age I loved to cook, I would cook dinners for my family, I went on to Chef school reached my dream, and then wanted to move beyond the kitchen

Top 3 advice tips for students and new grads coming into the industry:

  1. Learn from your early jobs, I constantly hire people that started at McDonalds and value the training they got
  2. Don’t think of food service as a temporary job to pay for school, it is a great profession with lots of possibilities
  3. Be prepared to start at the bottom and work your way up!

Tell us why your Food Job Rocks?

I, and my team, are responsible for feeding 3000 Seniors in long term care and retirement homes everyday! To see them enjoy a meal makes it all worthwhile! My career in food service has allowed me to travel around Canada, work in the Middle East, its been really cool!

Favourite quote?

If you have no voice, scream. If you have no legs, run. If you have no hope, invent – Cirque du Soleil, Alegria Poster

Sue Gervase, Manufacturers Rep/Broker/Consultant – Vegan Food Service

Name: Sue Gervase

Company:Vegan FoodService

Years worked in current role: <1

Years of experience in food industry: 5

In 300 characters or less describe your job:

I introduce anyone who serves food (buyers and chefs) to premium brands that create dynamite plant-based options for menus. Some are vegan alternatives, such as vegan bacon, and some are vegan by nature, such as quinoa. I am a one-stop shop for anyone looking to ‘beef’ up the plant-based options.

What are the top 3 characteristics you need to be good at your job:

  1. Knowledge of plant-based foods (I have a certificate in plant-based nutrition)
  2. Ability to get to decision makers
  3. Passion for healthy living.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in food?

I’m too passionate about fueling our bodies properly to sit back and watch the standard western diet kill us off.

Top 3 advice tips for students and new grads coming into the industry 

  1. Be creative,
  2. keep an open mind
  3. take risks

Tell us why your Food Job Rocks?

I get to help bring better, healthier food to more people everyday.

Favourite quote?

“Let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food” Hippocrates

Julie, Process Technologist at Weetabix

Name: Julie

Title: Process Technologist

Company: Weetabix

Years worked in current role: 2

Years of experience in food industry: 9

In 300 characters or less describe your job:

As a Process Technologist I track and manage value engineering projects; to ensure that best practices are used.  I work cross functionally with a multitude of teams, while improving efficiency and/or improving product quality.  There is a consistent strive to improve our processes through Continuous improvement.

What are the top 3 characteristics you need to be good at your job:

  1. Doer
  2. Observant
  3. Persistent

Why did you decide to pursue a career in food?

I decided to pursue a career in food because of the wide diversity of careers within the industry.  There are jobs in Quality, R&D, and Operations to name a few.  I also knew there would be great opportunities.  We cannot live without food; therefore there will also be a demand.

What would be your best 3 advice tips for new grads starting out in their career:

  1. Find a job you love and are passionate about.
  2. Build a network; this will become increasing important as your career progresses.
  3. Never stop learning, growing and developing.

Tell us why your Food Job Rocks?

My food job rocks because, every day is a new adventure and the learning never ends.

Favourite quote?

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great”. Mark Twain

Dave Shumka, Plant Manager at Saputo Dairy Products Canada

Name: Dave Shumka

Title: Plant Manager

Company: Saputo Dairy Products Canada

Years worked in current role: 5

Years of experience in food industry: 36

In 300 characters or less describe your job:

I am the plant manager of a Fluid Dairy bottling plant in British Columbia. I oversee the Production, Quality Assurance, and maintenance departments. We have a multi union environment with an excellent dedicated staff. I see my mandate as helping people to optimize production by fostering a safe, high-performing, and enjoyable work environment.

We produce a wide variety of high quality milk, flavoured milk, creams, and ice cream mixes for retail and food service customers.

What are the top 3 characteristics you need to be good at your job:

  1. Be a good listener, react to challenges in a consistent and fair manner, no favouritism.
  2. Have a good sense of priorities, knowledge of the difference between urgent and important whether it is a personnel issue or an operational issue, you can’t neglect the important but you must take care of the urgent.
  3. Engage the workforce so that they feel part of the process; that their opinions & ideas matter, don’t take credit, give credit.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in food?

I sort of fell into it at a young age and quickly realized that in uncertain economic times the fresh food industry will always provide employment, you can’t off-shore these jobs.

What would be your best 3 advice tips for new grads starting out in their career:

  1. Don’t be afraid to work non-traditional shifts, that’s how you get the best experience and chances for advanced roles.
  2. Realize that advancement takes time, don’t be in too much of a rush, enjoy the role you’re in and strive to gain full competency, advancement will come and the lessons you learn at lower levels will serve you well as you advance.
  3. Don’t ever let go of your integrity, you own that, not the company.

Tell us why your Food Job Rocks?

There is great satisfaction in knowing that my work is so valuable to society, I’ve always been very proud to tell the people that I meet that I’m a fisherman, or bakery worker or dairy worker etc. We’re feeding the minds and bodies of the nation.

Favourite quote?

Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.  Calvin Coolidge 30th president of the USA

Jennifer Gooch at Quality Technologist at Griffith Foods

Name: Jennifer Gooch

Title: Quality Technologist

Company: Griffith Foods

Years worked in current role: 6

Years of experience in food industry: 6

In 300 characters or less describe your job:

I test finished goods (batters/seasoning/breading) to ensure they have the right appearance/taste/texture/chemical properties. I also help maintain our food safety program (inspect equipment & facility, train staff, investigate non-conformances) & quality program (develop specs, internal auditing)

What are the top 3 characteristics you need to be good at your job:

  1. Good communication
  2. Organization/attention to detail
  3. Curiosity/willingness to learn

Why did you decide to pursue a career in food?

I did my co-op term here and ended up loving the people, fast pace, opportunities for learning and growth, as well as the fact that it’s a very active, hands-on job.

What would be your best 3 advice tips for new grads starting out in their career:

  1. Be open to criticism and regularly ask for feedback on how you can do better
  2. Show that you are interested in learning, ask questions and take notes!
  3. Look for a workplace you feel comfortable in, consider things like how active a job is, how much responsibility you want to take on, whether you thrive with a lot of supervision or a more independent environment.

Tell us why your Food Job Rocks?

My food job rocks because I’m on a great team that works hard, has fun, and is focused on continuous improvement.

Favourite quote?

“Food is medicine”

Let’s encourage and inspire a new generation of food industry professionals!

Ron Lecky, Operations Training Leader at Mondelez International

Name: Ron Lecky

Title: Operations Training Leader

Company: Mondelez International

Years worked in current role: 5

Years of experience in food industry: 24

In 300 characters or less, describe your job:

Perhaps the most important aspect of my role is how I approach and influence my fellow colleagues. Often times I create work instructions and manuals to develop training plans so I must deal with many personalities to gather the needed information. A key element to attaining this information is my ability to draw the correct information from the individual so I call upon many resources to do so. Secondary to gathering information is capturing it on film in the form of video and still frames so many times I must ask my colleagues for their patience.

What are the top 3 characteristics you need to be good at your job:

  1. Have a good sense of humour! I believe this for any role I have held over the years. Humour attracts people allowing them to be open and tears down barriers.
  2. Be patient! Life comes at us fast and furious at times and at any given moment we can find ourselves in a situation where, only a second of understanding is needed to prevail.
  3. Be kind! Kindness to and from others generates a positive environment for us all to work in, and we all need to work in a pleasant atmosphere! Always wear a smile!

Why did you decide to pursue a career in food?

I did not decide to make a career in the food industry the choice came out of availability of opportunities. In my 24 years, I have worked with 3 different food manufacturers due to available opportunities. I kind of fell into the industry and I am so very grateful.

Top 3 advice tips for students and new grads coming into the industry 

  1. Have and open mind! Always look deep into the root of all things and seek out the positive.
  2. Have a solid work ethic! People are drawn to others who show strong character and a can do attitude!
  3. Never take anything or anyone for granted! Life passes by so very quickly we tend to miss opportunities to say thank you.

Tell us why your Food Job Rocks?

Training is the foundation for every aspect of our lives and the principals we teach influence individuals minds in either a positive or a negative manner. We begin our training from the moment we are conceived until the moment we depart and our journey can be remarkable!

My colleagues often ask why I soar around the plant every day in high spirits. I tell them, I have the best job in the plant. I ensure all interactions are positive by greeting them with a genuine smile and whole hearted salutation! I support all departments with every incentive put forth therefore I am called upon for a variety of tasks, many of which are unrelated to my specific role. An integral part of my job is to assess needs and supply solutions so this challenges me to be creative and innovative.

Favourite quote?

There are so many inspiring quotes, which hold great meaning for me so to choose just one is like choosing between my children, they are all precious to my heart.

“Laughter lifts us over high ridges and lights up dark valleys in a way that makes life so much easier.  It is a priceless gem, a gift of release and healing direct from Heaven” -Alan Cohen

Phillip Pavlov, Senior Product Manager at McCormick Canada

Name: Phillip Pavlov

Title: Sr. Product Manager CPD

Company: McCormick Canada

Years worked in current role: Under 1 year

Years of experience in food industry: 16 years

In 300 characters or less describe your job:

I work as a Senior Product Manager for McCormick Canada in charge of Honey & Baking categories in Retail.

What are the top 3 characteristics you need to be good at your job:

  1. Analytics (consumer, customer, financial, etc.)
  2. Strategy (business, marketing, sales, etc.)
  3. Presentation, interpersonal and communication skills

Why did you decide to pursue a career in food?

Food is something people will always need.  It provides a certain sense of stability for me, but also a great way to change people’s lives for the better.

Top 3 advice tips for students and new grads coming into the industry 

  1. Be open to start at a junior level, you will grow if you are good
  2. Be flexible. Learn various aspects be it customer service, sales, merchandising, etc.  It will all come handy, so do not be fixated on just one thing
  3. Make sure you are passionate about what you do, this will surely help you deliver better results than the rest (and you also will be happy coming to work every day)

Tell us why your Food Job Rocks?

  1. Great people at my company
  2. My boss who gives me the freedom and the autonomy to succeed
  3. Great brands I work with like Billy Bee (Honey)

Favourite quote?

To do a common thing uncommonly well brings success (Henry Heinz)

Emily Munday, Culinologist/Nutritionist at CuliNex

Name: Emily Munday

Title: Culinologist/Nutritionist

Company: CuliNex

Years worked in current role: 5 years

Years of experience in food industry: 10 years

In 300 characters or less describe your job:

I’m a product developer for a consultancy focused on clean label foods. We help companies of all sizes to bring their products to market, everything from conception, to sourcing ingredients and co-packers, and to benchtop development and commercialization. Every day is uniquely challenging and fun!

What are the top 3 characteristics you need to be good at your job?

  • Adventurous: A good product developer is not afraid of failure, in fact, they embrace it. Only when you’re open to trying the craziest of ideas will you discover truly innovative solutions.
  • Go-getter attitude: We’re a small company and everybody wears a lot of hats. We need everyone to step up and do what it takes to get the job done.
  • Passionate: There’s many variables that affect a product’s success in the market place, but ultimately it has to taste great or consumers won’t buy it. Product developers need to foster a love of cuisine by eating, reading, and talking about food in all sectors of business from fine dining to street food to convenience stores. Staying up to date on trends and continually building your palate is essential.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in food?

I’ve been fascinated with cooking ever since I was a small kid; I would make up recipes, pore over cookbooks and even film my own cooking shows. By my senior year of high school, I realized that the only way to be happy was to carve a career based around my passion and not the other way around. Against my parents best wishes, I moved away to go to culinary school and ten years later it’s still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Top 3 advice tips for students and new grads coming into the industry

  • Act professionally – Be friendly to everyone, speak with confidence, dress right for the occasion, be prepared for meetings, take good notes, and always follow up. Be the best version of yourself; people will take note.
  • Be a problem solver – If you don’t know the answer to something, take the initiative to do your own research, ask questions, and try things out. Everyone wants to work with someone who knows how get stuff done.
  • Be a sponge – Take the time to try everything, do internships, job shadow, tour plants, attend trade shows, and research areas that interest you. You’re still figuring out where you fit in the world of food and the only way to figure it out is to keep learning.

Tell us why your Food Job Rocks?

Working for a consultancy, every day looks really different. Sometimes I get to ideate new concepts or attend consumer research sessions, and some days I’m on the bench making prototypes or in a plant running production tests. My job is really hard but rewarding when I get to see an idea come to fruition and ultimately, make our clients happy.

Favorite quote?

Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor. Truman Capote

Tammy Lomond, Director of Nutrition and Professional Services at mijava Corporation of Canada

Name: Tammy Lomond

Title: Director of Nutrition and Professional Services

Company: mijava Corporation of Canada

Years worked in current role: under 1 year

Years of experience in food industry: 12

In 300 characters or less describe your job:

My position with mijava involves two roles. 1). I help develop and manage menus for healthcare organizations including long-term care and hospitals, as well as childcare facilities. I also provide menu reviews and recommendations to meet any required ministry standards. 2). I provide online nutrition health coaching to individuals and families.

What are the top 3 characteristics you need to be good at your job:

  • Attention to Detail: Healthcare menus, especially long-term care menus, can be complex and there are many standards that must be met. Creating and revising menus that are appealing, meet all required standards and fall within a cost allowance, is like putting together big puzzle!
  • Communication: In nutrition coaching, the ability to communicate nutrition messages clearly, in a simple and realistic format, is very important in helping clients realize their nutrition goals.
  • Discipline: This job is 100% home-based. You must have discipline to keep yourself focused and motivated while working at home.

Why did you decide to pursue a career in food?

I was always interested in the health field and eating healthy, and nutrition is something that affects everyone. I enjoy keeping things simple and real and showing clients how easy it can be to eat healthy.

Top 3 advice tips for students and new grads coming into the industry

  1. Be open to opportunities. You never know who may become your next employer or client.
  2. Network. There are many food related jobs that you won’t find posted on job banks.
  3. Always be professional.

Tell us why your Food Job Rocks?

I work with a great team.

I work in 2 areas of nutrition that I enjoy, menu planning and nutrition coaching.

I love the flexibility and autonomy of working from home.

Favourite quote?

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.  Albert Einstein

Jessica Taylor, Senior Analyst, Food & Food Systems at Bioenterprise

Name: Jessica Taylor

Title: Sr. Analyst, Food & Food Systems

Company: Bioenterprise Corporation

Years worked in current role: 1 year

Years of experience in food industry: 3 years

In 300 characters or less describe your job:

I work with early-stage food companies to provide business advisory services to help them commercialize products in local and global markets. I work as a conduit, facilitating connections between service providers, academic and early-stage to multinational companies to enhance innovation in the food sector.

What are the top 3 characteristics you need to be good at your job:

  • Personable: constantly interacting with people in-person, on the phone and via email
  • Organized: the ability to multitask and juggle multiple clients and projects at one time
  • Autonomous: the motivation to create new projects and relationships and move existing activities forward

Why did you decide to pursue a career in food?

I wanted to pursue a career that would combine my desire to help people and interest in business and entrepreneurship. The food industry, and this role in particular, are a perfect fit allowing me to help entrepreneurs launch innovative food products and consumers to have a reliable, healthy food system.

Top 3 advice tips for students and new grads coming into the industry

  • Network: you never know who somebody knows
  • Don’t be afraid to ask: whether you’re looking for a new opportunity or not sure what something means, always ask whoever will listen.
  • Buy coffee: when you are new to the industry (and even after some experience), reach out to others and schedule coffee meetings to learn about their role in the industry. These connections will come in handy when least expected.

Tell us why your Food Job Rocks?

#MyFoodJobRocks because I get to see new innovations on daily basis and work with individuals and organizations across the industry.

Favourite quote?

Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.

Sasha Teska ,Senior Manager, Ontario Business Insights at Constellation Brands

Name: Sasha Teska

Title: Senior Manager – Ontario Business Insights

Company: Constellation Brands

Years worked in current role: 2

Years of experience in food industry: 12

In 300 characters or less describe your job:

As part of the Ontario sales team I drive the Insights that fuel growth for our wine business. In essence, I am a glorified story teller. I turn numbers into stories.

What are the top 3 characteristics you need to be good at your job:

  • Analytics
  • Communication
  • Strategy

Why did you decide to pursue a career in food?

A career in food was something I fell into as I pursued opportunities within consumer packaged goods in Category Management and Business Insights. I enjoy being able to walk through a grocery store / LCBO and understand why things are placed where they are and what that means for the consumer/shopper. The fun part about my job is that you also learn a lot about wine in the process and everyone LOVES wine. Coming into my job, my wife made fun of me as she bought a bottle of Ravenswood Zinfandel to celebrate the opportunity. I told her Zin is a starter wine for young girls drinking for the first time. Little did I know that Ravenswood Zin is a bold aggressive red wine that is now one of my favorite wines. So, falling into the industry has been fun because I get to do something I love (working with #s) and also have a chance to learn and share wines with friends and family. Given my economics background I never thought of a career in food, now that I am here I absolutely love it!

Top 3 advice tips for students and new grads coming into the industry

  1. Find your niche and exploit it: Succeeding in WINE has come from looking at things a little differently and helping those around me understand why that matters.
  2. Look to understand and enjoy all aspects of the business: Succeeding in WINE means understanding the big picture so that you can adjust your role to meet the changing needs of your business
  3. Winning is fun: find a way to spin everything into something positive. Being positive is infectious and helps drive winning results.

Tell us why your Food Job Rocks?

It’s a simple recipe for success:

Amazing people + Exciting Business + Positive Energy + Wine =  #Myfoodjobrocks!

Favourite quote?

“I can resist anything but temptation”  Oscar Wilde

Adam Carswell, Food Safety Program Manager

Name: Adam Carswell

Title: Food Safety Program Manager

Company: Sysco Southwestern Ontario

Years worked in current role:1

Years of experience in food industry: 14

In 300 characters or less describe your job:

The role of the Food Safety Program Manager at Sysco is to monitor and ensure compliance of our Operations to a defined set of Policies and Procedures that are designed to ensure every case of every product we received, store and distribute is safe and of the highest quality possible.

What are the top 3 characteristics you need to be good at your job:

  • A passion for doing what is right
  • A desire to constantly improve
  • An understanding that people eat food, it’s not just a thing

Why did you decide to pursue a career in food?

Throughout my childhood I always had a good time around food, whether cooking it, serving it, or eating it. During my last year of University, I ran a bar on campus and began to enjoy the service industry. Following that year, I immediately began a job as a restaurant manager and from there moved into the Food Safety Training and Consulting business. Today, I draw upon all those experiences to ensure that we at Sysco ship nothing but great products to all our customers knowing they are safe and of the highest quality.

Top 3 advice tips for students and new grads coming into the industry 

  • Treat food with respect and care
  • Treat your colleagues with respect and care
  • Treat every day as an adventure, because no two are the same

Tell us why your Food Job Rocks?

I am proud to know that I work for a company whose vision is to ensure that our customers both value and trust the products we ship them every day. With that, I have the responsibility to ensure that the food we ship to every hospital, daycare, restaurant or stadium is as safe and of the highest quality possible. And when we deliver on these promises, I know we have help to give every customer a truly great experience.

Favourite quote?

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. -Albert Einstein.

Lance Olson, Plant Manager at ConAgra Foods 

Name:  Lance Olson

Title: Plant Manager

Company:  ConAgra Foods

Years worked in current role:  10

Years of experience in food industry:  27

In 300 characters or less describe your job:

The plant manager has overall responsibility for all aspects of plant performance including safety, quality, employee development, financial, productivity, continuous improvement, engineering, security, environmental and hiring to name a few.  The most important aspect of my job is to invest in and develop my team and expect them to do the same with their teams and building a culture of change and continuous improvement.

What are the top 3 characteristics you need to be good at your job:

  1. Decisive
  2. Authentic & vulnerable
  3. Resilient

Why did you decide to pursue a career in food?

Was interested in how products are made.

Top 3 advice tips for students and new grads coming into the industry  

Find something your passionate about and do it well.  The work you do now will serve you later in your career.

Tell us why your Food Job Rocks?

What gets me up and excited about work every day is the opportunity to help others discover what they are capable of.

Favourite quote?

The harder I work the luckier I seem to get – Thomas Jefferson

Rebecca Mackenzie, Executive Director at Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance

Name: Rebecca Mackenzie

Title: Executive Director

Company: Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance

Years worked in current role: 8+

Years of experience in food industry: 19+

In 300 characters or less describe your job:

I work with destinations to support ‘taste of place’ development by connecting stakeholders along the food tourism value chain (farmers, food producers, farmers markets, restaurants, accommodations, attractions, tour operators, festivals and events). I foster an environment of collaboration and encourage co-opetition that results in increased economic impact, addresses food security and promotes pride in place. In addition to leading all food tourism consulting projects we deliver, I am responsible for writing all government grants, developing all of our organizations programs (such as Feast On (A Certified Taste of Ontario), and developing and implementing the organizations strategic plans.

What are the top 3 characteristics you need to be good at your job:

  • Be an effective communicator, comfortable presenting to groups with the ability to able to listen to stakeholders feedback and address concerns and new ideas.
  • Be empathetic, understanding the needs of the various stakeholders and the complex challenges they face in their business operations.
  • Be creative, have the ability to build big ideas with small budgets

Why did you decide to pursue a career in food?

My career in developing food tourism came from a passion for building local economies by connecting agriculture and tourism sectors. I wanted my children to grow up in a world where we value good food,  growing it, preparing it and savouring it.

Top 3 advice tips for students and new grads coming into the industry 

  1. Volunteer – find an organization whose work inspires you and get involved. Both the experience gained and the network built will be invaluable to your future
  2. Dream big and don’t let failure stop you. Learn from it and move on!
  3. Always be on time!

Tell us why your Food Job Rocks?

My food job rocks because I can see the positive impact of the work I contribute to. I am part of a movement, a positive change. No two days at work are ever the same. I have a small but mighty team that supports our work. I get to meet amazing people, travel the world and experience new food cultures. Not everyday is easy and there are a lot of challenges in running a not-for-profit organization but I’m thankful for all of my successes and my failures because both support my growth.

Favourite quote?

It’s actually a poem by Robert Frost – The Road Not Taken:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveller, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference.

“You must be the change you want to see in the world”. Mahatma Gandhi

Lori Fischer, Director Marketing Innovation at Pinty’s Delicious Foods

Name: Lori Fischer

Title: Director Marketing Innovation

Company: Pinty’s Delicious Foods

Years worked in current role:  1 year, 6 months

Years of experience in food industry: 16

In 300 characters or less describe your job:

Research, analyze, position, launch, promote, repeat! Interjected with a bit of fun, some travel, lot’s and lot’s and lot’s of debate and more chicken eating that I care to really admit in this posting!

Essentially, I work closely on all aspects of the product life cycle, from inception all the way to discontinuation.  I work within both the retail markets, so everything you see on shelf at your favourite grocery store, all the way to food service, yes that chicken you’re eating at your favourite pub could very well be Pinty’s!

What are the top 3 characteristics you need to be good at your job:

  1. Communication
  2. Flexibility
  3. Creativity

Why did you decide to pursue a career in food?

Through my involvement in sport I realized I had an interest in nutrition and its impact on performance. That interest paved the way to pursue a degree in Food & Nutrition.  Through my studies, I became less focused on the relationship between food and performance and came to admire the impact nutrition had on health, in prevention and in healing.  Although, none of those things turned into careers for me, they were however, small little building blocks that would eventually turn into something much better, I just didn’t know it or appreciate that at the time.  I held on to that piece of paper the university gave me with pride. Four years of knowledge and transformational life lessons sat within the fibres of that paper. So I set out, as most graduates do, to get a job. What I wasn’t prepared for was the time it took for things to click, I stumbled around a lot looking for the right fit, I took contract jobs, I traveled on a graduate’s budget of next to nothing, taking more odd jobs, slowly gathering one building block after another. It took all these individual experiences of hits and misses to finally build the framework for something I would eventually call a career. One thing was certain Food & Nutrition became a part of each experience, sometimes a small part but always played a role somehow.

Food is such a core component to our lives, its influences are varied and run so deep, not only fuelling us but connecting us to emotions, and places and feelings. The food industry is varied and runs just as deep. My path of experiences, appreciation for food, for people, for observation, led me to a career in Marketing for a food manufacturing company.

What would be your best 3 advice tips for new grads starting out in their career:

  1. Be Open, sometimes we can be so particular about what we think something should look like that you can close yourself off to a great opportunity.
  2. Listen, there is so much to learn from everyone around you, soak it all in.
  3. Be Brave, jump in with both feet.

Tell us why your Food Job Rocks?

Aside from the copious amounts of chicken I get to eat every day, I had the privilege of working on a team that helped to develop a brand of food specifically for the Canadian market. Getting the opportunity to work on a brand from scratch, getting into the minds of the Canadian consumer and their behaviour around food and then developing something to fit those behaviours and watching it grow and succeed, has been a real highlight for my career.

Favourite quote?

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change” Brene Brown

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