FoodGrads Podcast Episode 65: Building a Career in Food Manufacturing: Lessons in Creating Your Own Path with Doug Alexander, Vice President of Sustainability and Government Relations at Belmont Meats
On episode 65 of the FoodGrads Podcast we interviewed Doug Alexander, Vice President Sustainability and Government Relations at Belmont Meats. Belmont Meats is a leader in the manufacturing and processing of foodservice and retail Burger products since 1966.
In this episode Doug walked Veronica through his career journey starting from when he first graduated with a degree in Chemistry to his now current role. Doug spent time talking about the how and why he transitioned between each of his roles. He has had a rich career full of many roles so hearing how he move to each was great with a bit of the dynamics behind the scenes. Something that you don’t always hear about when hearing about people’s choice for careers. They also talked about managed failures in you role and they aren’t always the end of the world – even though they might seem like it at the time. Finally, they rounded the episode by Doug giving advice to those who are thinking about pursuing a career in the manufacturing side of the food industry.
[4:00] Why Doug took a gap year before starting college
[6:04] Doug’s experience working at Canada Packers (Maple Leaf Foods) with different roles
[14:18] Doug changing roles from QA manager to manufacturing manager
[17:06] Why Doug switched to working at a family owned privately owned company
[21:57] Doug switching to another family owned food business
[25:23] How Doug started to get into boards and government funding
[31:06] Doug’s advice to find your next career opportunity
[34:05] How to invest in your team as a leader
[40:26] How to succeed in a leadership role when you are worried about failing and causing economic losses for your company
Doug Alexander quotes from the interview
My career progressed in a manner that was a little forward and sometimes backwards. I would take a step backwards to learn something that I didn’t really master or know to be able to move forward later… You have to come out of your shell, talk to your peers around you and really take advantage of both your boss, other managers within the business and human resources and just talk to them.
The more I learned and the more I contributed, the better the rewards were. In other words: the better opportunities for me. I wasn’t really motivated by money as much as I was motivated by opportunity and the opportunity to contribute and demonstrate my abilities and reinvested in development.
You gotta be prepared to make mistakes and you gotta be prepared for your people to make mistakes. And you gotta be prepared to reinvest and shore them up and protect them from failure as best you can because it’s gonna happen and you wanna minimize the damage as much as possible. Otherwise, you get paralysis and everything stops.