Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Why a Food Scientist Chose Business

Edward Orzechowski joins the program as a Food Science major from the University of Delaware. Below, he shares his thoughts on why he chose to complement his degree with business skills:

"I am often asked why I didn’t pursue higher education more closely related to my field. Sure, getting a more advanced degree in Food Science or Public Health / Policy would have added specialization into a particular area of food science. I, however, wanted to broaden and diversify my skill set rather than refine and narrow my skills. Walking out of undergrad, I had the technical skills to work in a lab, but I didn’t know how to bring my skills into the boardroom where big decisions are made.

One simple fact changed my perspective on what next education I would pursue: anywhere I work, no matter if it is a large corporation, a non-profit, a government agency, or a start-up, will be run as a business at its core. Most scientists don’t know how to read an income statement or how to properly manage employees when entering the workforce. This means that when it comes time to use those skills, either, they don’t have them, or they don’t know how to use them successfully. Learning those skills now, in a controlled environment, allows for growth when risk is low. When is it better for the health of your career to fail? Just in an operations management simulation or group project, or when you first advise your management team to make decisions that have financial implications? In the time that peers will be learning business principles on the fly, you can then be focusing on solving the problem at hand.

Business skills are not only a means of personal growth and knowledge. In some parts of the industry, there are instances of disconnect between the sides of science and business. Take when a food company develops new products. Some companies will have their marketing team come up with what new products they think will do well and then task their food scientists to make it work. Other companies will have their new product development scientists come up with novel products, then task their marketing team to make it work. Now imagine having the skills to bridge that gap and the usefulness it lends.

Image taken from the Institute of Food Technologists website

When meeting someone I respect professionally, I always ask about the steps they took to get where they are because no two people have the same path to success. Looking at different perspectives and the lessons people learned along the way helps you take calculated risks on your own path. Be open to different paths and you will find success in the end. When I find myself doubting the path I chose, I remember the helpful advice I received from a mentor: 'an object in motion stays in motion.'"

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