FoodGrads Podcast Ep 5: Creating opportunities through action with Sashana Chattoo-Edwards, Quality Assurance Technician at Waterloo Brewing

On episode 5 of the FoodGrads Podcast, I interview Sashana Chattoo-Edwards, a Quality Assurance Technician at Waterloo Brewing Company. Waterloo Brewing Company is Ontario’s first craft brewer opening in 1984 and today it is Ontario’s largest craft brewery.

In this episode, Sashana and I talk about her job as a QA tech and the analytical tests that she does on a daily basis. I learn about what she loves about her job and how Centennial College set her up for success in her career. We also talk about how her love for food stems from her time on her family farm in Jamaica and her attendance at both an agricultural high school and college.

I have known Sashana for a few years now and her positive and outgoing attitude is one that lights up the room. For work ethic and ability to search out opportunities is amazing. We round out this episode talking about how Sashana became a FoodGrads campus ambassador and what opportunities came through it mainly through her connections with Nicole and blogging on the website.

I also wanted to mention we have a special guest on the show in the background. Sashana’s new born son is in the background, so if you can hear some giggling it is him. The podcasts youngest fan!

Anyways, I hope you enjoy the show!

Show Notes

Where do you work and what do you do at the company?

  • Sashana works at Waterloo Brewing as a Quality Assurance Technician
  • Waterloo Brewing makes beer and co-pack
  • They started 36 years ago with just craft beer but they have expanded and have four core brands. They are doing bigger and better things as well

Can you give a broader definition of what your duties are as a Quality Assurance Technician?

  • Mostly analytical work like testing to make sure things are with in a specific range
  • Micro parameters and let the operations know if something is off . They test it daily because they test for microbes in the water because it is locally sourced water
  • Making sure that Good Manufacturing Procedures are followed which includes the cleaning.
  • Maintaining good housekeeping like documents are filled out correctly
  • Performing analytical tests like alcohol testing, pH, bitterness testing
  • They have to make the physical beer are proper as well like the label, the best before date, the correct sealing, there is enough nitrogen in the can
  • There are four major components in the beer which are hops, water, barley and yeast

Can you a give a general overview of the beer making process?

  • The operations side is more in charge of making the beer so they are more familiar with that process
  • It is a very elaborate process. The beer needs to sit in the in the tanks for a couple of days. The QA department has to test the product and give them the okay to move into the next step of the process
  • Waterloo Brewing works together as a team all departments together
  • Sashana likes that for her job she gets to act as a gatekeeper

What do you love about your jobs as a Quality Assurance Technician?

  • She loves that you are in charge and you are the one who says yes or no. You are not micromanaged. You are the person in charge of making sure that things are with in standards. You get to have an eye for detail
  • She is in charge and not micromanaged.

How did your family farm lead you to what you do today?

  • Sashana’s father is a farmer who grows everything that he can get his hands on. Growing up her and her siblings were given a plot of land to grow food and her siblings would compete to grow the most. This is what sparked her passion
  • In high school she choose to go to an agricultural high school and college. On-campus she would get up at 5 am to tend to the animals.

Were you able to take courses in agriculture in high school?

  • Yes
  • At school they raised chickens and full eat the chickens on Friday’s
  • They learned how to rear animals, grow food and learn the theory in the classroom
  • She also did food and nutrition. This involved baking and cooking every other week

How did you transition to Canada and why did you choose Centennial College as a next stepping stone in your career?

  • Centennial college was mirror to the courses she took at the College of Agriculture, Science & Education. The only other place which was similar was the University of Saskatchewan for masters in food science.
  • She went directly into the fast track program. The equipment at Centennial College were better than in Jamaica. The professors were amazing, tolerant and patient. They teach and make sure that you understand and you have the knowledge that you can use in the industry. Some analytical tests that she did in Centennial were exactly what she does now.

Can you share your experience about being a FoodGrads campus ambassador?

What kind of activities did you do in your food science club and what did you enjoy doing?

  • They did a food fair where everyone brought in food from their culture. They had it on display and did a display and did a critique of it
  • Pizza parties
  • A lot of socializing

How was the transition between graduating and entering into the workforce?

  • Pretty easy transition likely because she was working before she came in to Canada. The biggest challenge was balancing work and family life. The hours clashed with her having to pick up her daughter from school
  • Her first job was in product development and it was a challenge because she never created products again.
  • Working in the chicken industry because of the working hours because she worked the night shift. It was the most critical industry because there was so much challenges dealing with food safety.
  • Each one has their own challenge

Do you have any books, podcasts or people that you follow that you would recommend to others?

  • Sashana does not have a book or podcasts yet. She has plans in the future to do that. Hopefully, in the future her blog posts will eventually turn into the book.
  • She follow me and Nicole

Why is the food industry a great place to work?

  • It is very diversified. If you do not like something then you can always change. Sashana likes QA but if she wants she go to micro or R&D. You one degree can allow you to transition to different departments. They are so broad. It is not a tiny box and you can do what ever that you want.

What advice would give to someone who wants to pursue a career similar to yours?

  • Just go for it. You can never go wrong and you can do what you want to do. What I do is not something that everyone else would like to do. Change what you are doing.

Author: Veronica Hislop– Veronica is a Master’s thesis student in the Molecular Science program at Ryerson University. She is also a career partner with FoodGrads and has work experience in the food processing industry working both in R&D and QA.

Currently, she is performing research on water-in-oil emulsions stabilized by fat crystals. When she is not following her scientific endeavours you can find her enjoying Japanese anime, manga and video games

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