FoodGrads Podcast Ep 40: Why following your passion,working hard and asking questions is the path to success with Chloe Hoang, Product Developer Assistant at Give & Go Foods

On episode 40 of the FoodGrads podcast we interviewed Chloe Hoang, Product Developer Assistant at Give & Go Foods. Give and Go Foods is a Canadian manufacturer of premium frozen, thaw and sell baked goods. Give & Go produces a wide range of dessert and sweet baked goods that are sold to leading retailers and food service operators across the world.

Chloe and Veronica talked about what it is like working at Give & Go Foods and how her love for baking led her down this path. Chloe talked about why it is important to ask questions in both school and in your career and why she choose Niagara College for her degree in Canada. Also, Chloe talked to us about her transition from college to the work force and how she managed to stay positive during the time she was applying for jobs by learning from each new experience. Chloe has this burning passion for product development that really shines through in this episode so if you need a pick me to remind yourself why you love the food industry then make sure to give this episode a listen.

Show Notes

[00:01:42] Could you tell us more Give & Go Foods and your what you do at your job there?

  • Give and Go Foods is a company under the Mondelez umbrella and is one the top baked good companies. They have many brands like Kimberly and create many of the products that you see in Costco or Walmart or any grocery store.
  • Currently, Chloe’s position is a Product Developer Assistant. She just started last year and is her first position after graduation. While working she has been given the chance to see how different departments work together and how baking products are made at the production facility while doing a plant trial to see how the project is managed.

[00:04:12] Is there anything that you love about your job as a product development assistant?

  • Before starting in this position Chloe already loved cooking and baking. During this time Chloe is in the zone and happy. In this role she has a chance of baking but it has also increased her ability to problem solve and be creative. It is interesting when you change something small to the formula but it changes the texture, the flavours and everything can get changed. Cooking is related to both chemistry and even biology. In this role Chloe can be creative and try new things everyday.

[00:05:15] Veronica and Chloe start talking about the role of changing batch size on baking

  •  Chloe says that this happens all the time and when she studied at Niagara she had the chance to work in the R&D department so many outside companies would go to her. If a problem happened they would need to look at the mixing equipment and really understand the entire process as a whole. While running a plant trial you need to communicate with the marketing team, the production and the engineering department. They key is to get everyone to understand the product. If you don’t understand something you need to ask because can not have all the knowledge. Working at Give and Go Foods has taught Chloe a lot about that.

[00:07:02] Did you find it difficult at first during work to communicate and ask questions?

  • Many people have this problem and when Chloe was an international student coming to Canada English was her second language. This made it difficult for her to ask questions. Though she felt that it is okay to ask questions even if it feels like something that is stupid. The whole purpose of asking questions is to move forward and the goal is to help the company move forward. Chloe believes that if you are willing to learn and show that people are willing to answer the questions.

[00:08:35] Veronica and Chloe continue to talk about asking questions

  • Veronica talks about how she has struggled with asking questions in the past. Particularly talking about how it is hard to ask to ask a question if you already have before
  • Chloe says that it is okay because you are brand new and it is not possible to remember everything especially something you don’t do frequently. It is okay. During school Chloe was always the one in the professor’s office asking questions before the assignment was due. She also suggested to her friends that instead of asking her the questions she should ask the professor because they will know the answer. This also develops a better relationship with them. As well a question might not be dumb, you never know if a lot of other students will have the same question as you.

[00:12:41] Could you walk us through your career journey and why you decided to come to Canada as an international student? 

  • After Chloe finished high school in Vietnam she didn’t know what she wanted to live and spend her entire time doing. She saw people around her like her parents who were just earning money to survive. She thought about the thing she wants to spend all her time doing which is cooking but she wanted to go to Canada because they don’t have as many good programs as here. Many people asked her why not be a chef but she didn’t think that she could handle the stress. As well, it is physically demanding.
  • Initially Chloe actually got a letter from Western University for and English learning camp. At the time Chloe’s English was really poor . She wasn’t sure if she would be able to handle it because she is more of a hands on learning person. However, she didn’t want to waste here money and instead learned little by little. Though at this time she realized that she doesn’t actually love doing this.
  • Chloe decided to transfer to Niagara college because the program allowed her to try everything. As a product developer you get to try everything and Chloe loves doing it. Everyone back home keeps asking her how she can be so happy? I want to be happy like you.

[00:16:26] Veronica and Chloe talking more on her decision to transfer

  •  At the beginning her Mom didn’t like when she decided to move from University to College. However, if she kept believing in doing that everything would turn out okay.

[00:17:51] Can you tell us more about the Culinary Innovation and Food Technology program at Niagara College and what you did there?

  • At Niagara college you learn how to cook and culinary things but also on the side about QA and HACCP. They create new products and act as product developers. They learn about microbiology and sometimes it felt like Chloe was getting double degrees with everything she learned. She really enjoyed her time there.
  • Many people who entered the program didn’t know how to do basic things like how to fry. However, by the end of the program they knew how to cook lobster. As you go through the program you learn a little about each skill getting better as you go along.

[00:20:07] Can you tell us more about what you would like to bake at home?

  • Cakes are one of Chloe’s favourite things. In the beginning in Vietnam she would recipe’s all the time and tried a couple trying to figure out which is the best one. Sometimes she would do an Asian style but other times Western style depending on her mood. Right now she is enjoying making cookies.

[00:20:52] You are a person who talks about how networking is so important during school. Could you explain to us more where this idea of fostering a good network and how did you do it while you were in school?

  • Chloe believes that it was little bit easier for her because she is more extroverted. Many international students might not like networking because they feel they need to learn to speak English better however Chloe wanted to show people that she can network too. She can do it too and that she has the knowledge she wants to show herself that she did it too.  
  • Firstly, Chloe wanted to try her best. Secondly, she felt that communication is really important and coming to Canada is something that is new to her. She didn’t really know anyone else around the country. She wanted to have more experiences and wanted to talk to them. She can view them as a connection so they can share their story with her.
  • With the second part when working if you communicate you problems than you can learn from other people. Her professor after studying under her for three years she knows her. She knew how hard Chloe worked and actually helped her get an interview at the company. You should try to connect and network because you don’t have to waste time picking up a ton of book instead you only have to pick the best one. If you have a person you can believe in, they give you the advice. You should take it. You don’t have to westbound.

[00:24:39] Veronica and Chloe talk about the importance of talking and building relationships with your professors

  • Start early in school and build relationships with your professors. You never know where it can go.
  • Even if you go to your professors to ask for help. Sometimes you would end up being the only student there for an hour so you get them all to yourself. It is also a lot less intimidating because your professor is going to be there for four months at least and you never know if they are going to teach you more in the future.
  • Chloe talks about how it is better to go to the professor instead of your friends because your friends may have the wrong answer. The professor will for sure provide you with the correct answer. Sometimes Chloe even visits her professors in person at their house.

[00:28:45] After graduation did you have any difficulties graduating or finding a job after graduation?

  • Even after three months of applying Chloe had a difficult finding a job this was especially difficult during COVID. A lot of entry level jobs asked for two to five years of experience but she didn’t’ have it. However, Chloe kept positive and going applying for job after job.  She felt that it was okay to fail and that she would get a job. Every time she would use the experience to learn from. Next time she got the question she would be more prepared for next time.
  • Even now it was difficult for Chloe because she is an international student without a car. It was a long commute however she learned with talking to someone else that she had a co-worker who lived 5 minutes away from her. She talked with her and now she drives her to work every morning. Chloe believes that everything happens for a reason and you just have to keep going.

[00:32:22] Chloe starts to talk about how she is doing what she loves

  •  Foe example, when baking at first she wasn’t the best but as she kept going she started to gain confidence. Like an athlete you have to work at it and make your muscles work more. This also applies to Chloe and learning how to speak English. She just kept practicing and eventually this built up her confidence. Chloe always remembers that the first time that her English will not be the best but even it you fail you can use it as a lesson for the future.
  • Chloe’s mom always said that that “everything always have the solution. It’s just you accept it or not.” That’s why Chloe say’s “if you fail, it’s okay. If people don’t understand. Say it again? Slower. Let the try it. It’s okay. Just redo it. It’s just you accept your field. You want the lesson you wanted to improve it or not.”

[00:35:25] Can you talk about something that happened in one of your interviews, maybe of something that didn’t go well and how you were able to grow and learn for the next one?

  • Chloe is fairly new to the industry so she didn’t know what kind of questions would be asked during the interview. The first positive is once you get an interview you can actually prepare for the next one. The next positive is you can start to understand the flow and watch the emotion’s someone gives during an interview. By watching that you can figure out what to change or focus in on more. The more interview’s she went to the more her confidence improved.

Chloe believes that you have to show yourself to people and be nice in a way that people want to listen. You should also go to your professors and ask for help if you have a good relationship for extra help and insights.  

[00:38:29] What piece of advice would you give to students if they were looking to get into a position like yours. Alternatively just life advice in general?  

  • Find something you love and follow it because every success is always start with a dream. So just follow with the one you love and be clear , with the heart and the mind it about it because it is what you are going to be doing for you life.

[00:39:55] Where can people find you?

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