I volunteered to be the guest mentor at the Southern California Institute of Food Technologists monthly meeting. Then I got sick. Nothing serious, just a cold with the sniffles and the occasional coughing spell. Since I wouldn’t be at the SCIFTs dinner in person (spreading my warm smile and my germs), I put together this Q/A which I hope new professionals in the food/bev and supplement industries find informative.
1 What is one thing you would tell a new professional in the food industry?
As often as appropriate, ask a person how they got their current job. It amazes me how many people in the food industry do not have the linear career path you’d find on CareersInFood.com or PayScale.com job profiles. Most people bounce around between roles and even departments.
For example, I started at Beachbody as a Food Technologist in product development, then I was promoted to Quality Assurance Specialist. After that I was promoted to a quality systems role, where I work on databases and computer programs that R&D uses. Each promotion gave me a chance to do something I enjoy, but I NEVER would have imagined I’d be working on R&D systems 5 years ago.
2 What is the biggest challenge you’ve encountered in your career thus far?
The hardest part for me is remembering to change my communication style. Some people want to skip the fluff and get straight to the point. Some people need a positive word before they get feedback – they need the bread in the compliment sandwich. Some people hate metaphors, while others absolutely need them to understand the big picture. Figuring out HOW to say something in a team dynamic is sometimes more important than WHAT you say. But everyone defaults to the way they are most comfortable communicating.
3 What is the one thing you wish someone told you on your first day at Beachbody?
Speak up more often. Early in my career I was too afraid of looking stupid or (worse) afraid of upsetting people. I should have made a point to ask a question at every meeting, even if it was just verbally recaping the meeting and Next Steps. I also should have been more willing to speak up when I felt there was a better way to approach a project. Most of all, I wish I had been more vocal about the projects I was working on because when I moved from the product development team to the quality team, some tasks got neglected because I made too many assumptions about how well my coworkers understood my workload.