FoodGrads Podcast Episode 62: From Master’s Degree to Career: Navigating the Food Safety Industry and Entrepreneurship with Marcus Washington, Business Development Manager at SGS and Co-Founder of Just4Bars

On episode 62 of the FoodGrads we interviewed Marcus Washington, Business Development Manager at SGS and Co-Founder of Just4Bars. SGS is an inspection, verification, testing and certification company that is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. While Just4Bars is fruit bars company founded by Marcus and his wife Briana Washington who are making healthy snacks with just 4 ingredients: fruit, dates, honey, and love.

This week on the podcast Marcus and Veronica talked about an array of topics so there is a lot to chew on. Marcus started by sharing with me what he does at SGS Brands and how he transitioned from this full-time position after his food safety master’s degree. Marcus actually started his food safety masters degree co-currently as an undergraduate so Veronica asked him how did that happen. They also talked about what the transition was like going from master’s degree to full time job and Just4Bars. As well, what skill Marcus is currently working on which might surprise you and advice that he would give students looking to go into the food safety industry.

Show Notes


[03:02] Marcus’ background and how he became interested in food safety.

[17:17] Marcus’ role as a business development manager at SGS.

[21:21] What it was like transitioning from graduate school to the work world

[25:27] What is Rhode Farms and Just4Bars.

[30:39] The origin story of Rhode Farms and how Marcus came up with the idea.

[36:53] What is agriculture like in Oklahoma

[39:22] Marcus’ current focus on developing new skills in food safety.

[45:39] Marcus’ advice for students interested in pursuing a career in food safety.

Marcus Washington LinkedIn

Agricultural Economics and Accounting at Oklahoma State


Oklahoma State Food Safety



Rhode Farms


Marcus Washington quotes from the Interview

But I think working with people, especially in sales is different because everybody is very competitive and wants to make sure that they are meeting their sales goals. Making sure that their accounts are taken care of as well. So that was what the transition was like for me, was really just developing those soft skills because I had a lot of the technical knowledge already but then it was stepping into a role that was not really as technical and more about building relationships with internal and external stakeholders.

– Marcus Washington

It’s not as easy as just being able to get up and drive to these places. And I think a lot of people may not know their local farmer or what exactly farmers do on a day-to-day basis. So I think that’s where we would like to make people a little bit more aware and just help spread it.

– Marcus Washington

I think in negotiations some people may view it as like a pizza where there’s only a certain amount of slices. Somebody may get four, somebody may get two, somebody may get three. Whereas really in a negotiation, it should be like a pot of gold and you’re trying to add as much gold to the pot as possible. And so that way everybody can get a solution that works out for them and you can add as much value as possible without taking away from others.

– Marcus Washington

But also connecting with your classmates and it doesn’t necessarily have to mean you have to be everybody’s best friend, but I think at least having somewhat of a working relationship, knowing who everybody is, will open the doors in the future, and then you guys can either work together or some what, start a business or whatever.

– Marcus Washington

So it’s always, treat your peers with respect and never look down upon anybody because one day the roles very well may be reversed. And just be nice to people. Treat everybody with kindness. And then there’s a lot of opportunities that can develop from having those academic and business relationships.

– Marcus Washington

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