Gordon Smith, PhD, CFS

Board of Directors Candidate
Current Title:
Professor & Head, Grain Science and Industry
Employer: Kansas State University
Email: glsmith@ksu.edu

Why do you want to serve in this role?

Over 32 years of IFT membership, I have enjoyed its benefits beginning with scientific exchange at presentations/posters, developing critical business relationships during supplier nights/expo, and building a broad network at local/national meetings. As I matured as a food scientist, my relationship with IFT transitioned to the facilitation of relationships with future employees, critical peers, and consultants. After serving six years on the IFT Higher Education Review Board (HERB) participating in the review of >250 program applications and nine years as an instructor for the IFT Food Science for the Non-food Scientist short course, I have experienced firsthand the amazing generosity and power of IFT volunteer service. With my recognition as an IFT Fellow last year and my unique background outlined below, I believe I could facilitate effective conversation on the IFT future direction.

Please describe how your attributes and experiences have prepared you for board service.

As outlined in my CV, my career began in the food business as the second PhD to be hired by the Sara Lee Corporation. Over time, my role expanded in terms of business impact, geographical reach, and technical expertise covering a broad range of product categories including meats, dairy, bakery, cereals, meals, and canned goods. Like most professionals, this career growth was driven by connectivity, informal networking, and formal training often facilitated by IFT. Three years ago, after an initial conversation with the Dean of Agriculture at Kansas State University at the IFT annual meeting, I began the transition from industry to academia. My current role as professor and head of the Department of Grain Science and Industry provides an opportunity to bridge the gap between academia and industry, and find collaborative ways to work together to train our future leaders. 

In reviewing IFT’s Strategic Promises, please describe the challenges and opportunities you believe IFT will face in achieving our mission and vision.

-Consumer demand for simple ingredient statements, non-GMO components, and less processed foods represent a misunderstanding and demonization of food science and technology. The mix of IFT membership provides a unique platform to corroboratively address these issues from perspectives including the industry, academia, and government professionals.

-Talent development is a critical responsibility for IFT as the workforce continues to age and business challenges increase in complexity. A new type of food scientist is evolving where lifelong learning/development is increasingly critical to driving innovation necessary to face these demands.

-IFT must continue to strive to be the unifying force between its industry, academic, and government members, and harnessing and capitalizing on the power of these groups to meet the IFT strategic objectives.

Please describe an IFT or other volunteer leadership experience and how it will assist you in serving on the board.

My tenure with the IFT Higher Education Review Board (HERB) began while I was still employed in the industry and continued as I transitioned into my academic career providing two very different perspectives on the review system. That experience provided significant insight into how those groups viewed IFT's purpose, goals, and responsibilities. This example is a microcosm of a much bigger IFT opportunity that is to turn different frames of reference and viewpoints into an operational strength and core competency.

Please provide a short narrative biography of important career and personal accomplishments.

After receiving a PhD from Texas A&M University in food science, I was hired by the Sara Lee Corporation where I spent the next 14 years. After that I moved to Con-Agra as the vice president of research and development where I was employed until 2015. Following that experience, I started a new chapter as the professor and head of the Department of Grain Science and Industry at Kansas State University.

Throughout my journey, one thing I know that is true and it is that people are important. This concept has defined my leadership style and belief that if people feel valued and listened to that what can accomplish as a team is unlimited. My desire is to carry this philosophy into future opportunities in IFT service.  


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