Colin Dennis, CBE, PhD, CFS, CSci

Colin Dennis, CBE, PhD, CFS, CSciMy career in food science and technology started in 1970 when I was appointed as the first mycologist in the UK Government’s Institute of Food Research. During the subsequent 11 years I established a team of 12 researchers involved in food mycology and post-harvest technology of fruits and vegetables and was an invited Visiting Scientist in food microbiology at the Norwegian Food Research Institute.

Subsequently I was appointed as the first Director of Food Technology at Campden Food & Drink Research Association. During my 7years leading the Division, income increased 4 fold and publications increased 8 fold. I initiated several new research activities in chilled foods, aseptic packaging and hygienic design. My leadership qualities led to me having the additional responsibility of co-ordinating the research programme for the whole organisation.

These Leadership and management experiences led to my appointment as Director-General of the organisation (now Campden BRI), a position I held for 21 years. During my time leading and managing the business, the annual income increased 7 fold to over £19m. This was achieved by developing a new range of services for a much expanded industry and public sector client base nationally and internationally. The business achieved accreditation to International Standards 9001 and 17025 for business management systems, national recognition and a business award for staff training and development and a regional award for the best business.

I maintained my academic interests in food science by being the Unilever Visiting Professor of Food Science at Queen’s University, Belfast and a Visiting Professor in Food Supply Chain at the Royal Agricultural University. Both roles involved teaching undergrad modules, providing strategic guidance and hosting students for industrial training.

Throughout my career I have been committed to collaboration: establishing, developing and maintaining collaborations between industry, government and academia and was a recipient of the IFT’s Myron Solberg Award in recognition.

My leadership qualities and knowledge of food science have led to my appointment on government and industry advisory committees in the UK, Australia, USA, Canada, Belgium, India, Abu Dhabi and more. I was particularly honoured to be invited to serve on the Selection Panel for the World Food Prize and have greatly enjoyed volunteering in many capacities in the Food Science and Technology community, especially IFT.

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What do you feel you can contribute to the growth and advancement of IFT?
I look forward to promoting the vital importance of the food science and technology in responding to the global challenges and opportunities with respect to food safety, health and wellness, sustainable food supply chains, food security and the formulation of evidence-based public policies and regulations. My extensive leadership experience in industrial, academic and government organizations has enabled me to appreciate and understand the different requirements needed by these stakeholders. Furthermore my 20+ years of leading an international, industrial membership-based scientific and technical centre enabled me to gain valuable experience in the most effective ways of working and communicating with members and the power and cost-effectiveness of collaboration and partnership.

I also look forward to leveraging my ongoing international experience for the benefit of IFT in identifying relevant collaborators/partners and opportunities for growth and influence.

What are the three most important strategic issues facing the profession and the industry that align with IFT’s goals and how would you address these as a member of the Board of Directors?

  • Communicating and promoting the importance of food science and technology and its essential role in ensuring food safety, health and wellness, sustainable food supply chains, food security and the formulation of evidence based public policies and regulations. (Goals 1 and 3)
  • Maintaining adequate public and private funding for education and research in food science and technology to ensure continued availability of skilled workforce and innovative developments to meet the changing needs of public and private stakeholders. (Goals 1 and 2)
  • Creating and maintaining national and international partnerships with relevant bodies to optimise the use of financial and human resource to effectively respond to 1 and 2 above. (Goals 3 and 4)

I would seek the support of colleagues on the Board to prioritise the above areas and their agreement to allocate appropriate human and financial resources. I would advocate a variety of communication media to relay sound science based messages to all stakeholders for each of the topics listed above. While IFT has a powerful position and an established high reputation in food science and technology it is important that we seek to collaborate with national and international organisations active in, for example, agriculture, nutrition, regulation and communication for optimum impact in the above areas.

Why do you want to serve on the Board of Directors and how has your work and volunteer experiences prepared you to be a strategic board member?
I wish to further commit time and energy to an Institute which has featured strongly in my professional life and career for the last 30 years.

I am passionate about the importance and recognition of our profession and believe that IFT has a fundamental role in promoting this across industry, academia and government both nationally and internationally. My present and previous roles are evidence of my commitment and dedication to the profession. Several of these both as an employee and as a volunteer have provided valuable experience at a strategic level and enabled me to demonstrate my leadership abilities. I have experience of working in the public and private sectors as well as interfacing with academia via Visiting and Honorary Professorships.

My current role as a member of the General Committee on Science at the UK’s Food Standards Agency is the most recent example of my involvement with Government organizations.

I also have extensive volunteer experience, including roles a Section, Committee and Task Force Chair and Board member of IFT. In addition I have served as Chair of IUFOST’s Scientific Council, as President of the UK’s Institute of Food Science & Technology and I am currently Chair the Board of Trustees of IFIS.

All of these experiences, I believe are most valuable in preparing me to take on the role of President Elect.

What defines a successful board and how would you contribute?
Board Diversity:
The Board should consist of people, with a passion for IFT and its success, and be from a diverse range of backgrounds (experiences and expertise) representing key groups of stakeholders (e.g. industry, academia, government, students, mix of gender and including international knowledge and experience).

Board Preparation and Organisation:
Thorough induction of new Board members should occur prior to their first meeting. For each meeting a clear agenda indicating contributions required by the Board members and background papers should be circulated well in advance. All Board members should commit time for reading of papers and preparation prior to meeting. Members should understand the role and purpose of the Board in terms of strategic direction and delivery against agreed goals.

Board Meeting Conduct and Process:
All members should respect each other’s views, everyone (volunteers and staff) should have the opportunity to contribute and to be heard. For each substantive issue on the agenda, time should be allocated to collect and evaluate facts and information, feelings and emotions, positives, negatives, new thoughts and ideas.

Listening and Communication to Stakeholders, especially members:
Time should be taken to collect and understand members needs now and in the future in view of changing working environment which affects the food sector. Timely communication of Board decisions should be made to stakeholders/members via electronic, telephone, video, face-to-face or hard copy as appropriate.

Board Evaluation:
At the end of each meeting the Board should briefly evaluate what went well and what could be improved in the running of the meeting and respond accordingly. Annually the Board should reflect on its achievements and agree objectives for the following year bearing in mind the agreed action plan and associated finances.

Personal Contribution:
My previous Leadership experience, both in my professional career and as a volunteer, has involved working internationally and assisting membership organizations to adapt and expand in changing and challenging environments. I believe this will enable me to contribute to the strategic development of the Institute and provide guidance on the implementation of new initiatives. I welcome the opportunity of working with an established, dynamic and successful organisation such as IFT and would be a greatly honored to serve as its President Elect.

Formal Education
CFS, 2013, Food Science, Institute of Food Technologists
C.Sc, 2004, Food Science, Science Council/Institute of Food Science & Technology
PhD, 1970, Mycology, Sheffield University
BSc 1st Class, 1967, Botany, Biochemistry, Sheffield University

Career History

Company

Title

Start Date

End Date

Advisory Committees

Advisor to Food Sector

2009

Present

Campden BRI

Director General

1988

2009

CFDRA

Director of Food Technology

1981

1988

Norwegian Food Research Institute
(Matforsk)

Invited Visiting Scientist

1981

1981

IFR Norwich

Project and Section Leader for IFR

1970

1981

Leadership Experience

Company/Org

Position

Start Date

End Date

CSIRO, Australia

Chair of Review Panel for Animal, Food & Health Sciences Division

2013

2013

IFIS

Chair of Board of Trustees

2013

Present

IFT

Chair, Power of 3 Food, Water and Energy

2013

2013

British Nutrition Foundation

Governor

2012

Present

International Food Network Inc (USA)

Advisory Board Member

2011

Present

Flanders Foods, Belgium

Chair, Scientific Advisory Committee

2011

Present

Institute of Food Science and Technology, UK

President

2011

2013

IFST

Vice President

2010

2011

English Food & Drink Alliance

Chairman

2010

Present

Maple Leaf Foods Inc (Canada)

Food Safety Adviser

2010

Present

IFT

Board of Directors

2010

2013

IFIS

Member of Board of Trustees

2009

Present

Royal Agricultural University

Governor

2009

Present

National Skills Academy

Board Member

2009

Present

BBSRC

Chair of Modular Training for Industry Panel

2008

2009

BBSRC

Chair of Industry Interchange Programme

2008

2009

IUFOST

Secretary of Scientific Council

2008

2010

IFT

Co-Chair Global Strategy Advisory Panel

2008

2009

IFT

Finance Committee

2008

2011

IFT

Member of Strategic Implementation Task Force

2007

2008

IFT

Member of Global Regulations and Policy Committee

2007

2008

IUFOST

Chair of Technical Programme Committee 14th World Food Congress

2006

2008

IUFOST

Member of Governing Council and
Management Board

2006

2008

Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority

Member of Scientific Committee

2006

2007

IFT

Member of Governance Task Force

2006

2007

UKTI

Co-Chair of Agribusiness Working Group of the Joint Economic and Trade Committee

2005

2006

BBSRC

Member of Biosciences for Industry Panel

2005

2008

UKTI

Chair of Agri-Food Sector Advisory Group

2005

2010

International Agri-Technology Centre

Chair of Industry Advisory Group

2005

2010

Department of Environment and Rural Affairs [Defra]

Member of Research Priorities Committee

2003

2006

IFST

Member of Management Board

2003

2005

IFT

Chair of Constitution and By-Laws Committee

2003

2004

IFT

Member of Council

2003

2007

IFT

Chair of British Section

2002

2006

IFST

Member of Council

2001

2005

IFT

Board of Editors, Comprehensive Reviews of Food Science & Food Safety

2000

2008

IFT

Member of Constitution and By- Laws Committee

2000

2007

IFT

Secretary of British Section

2000

2002

IFT

Member of British Section Committee

1999

2010

United Kingdom Accreditation Service

Board Member

1998

2009

The Office of Science and Technology

Member of Food and Drink Foresight Panel

1994

1998

Professional and Community Recognition

  • Fellowship of Institute of Food Science and Technology, UK, 1982
  • Fellowship of The Royal Society for encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, 2000
  • Fellowship of Institute of Food Technologists, USA, 2001
  • Fellowship of International Academy of Food Science and Technology, 2001
  • Honorary Fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, 2010
  • Honorary Member of Society for Applied Microbiology, 2006
  • Honorary Member of Campden BRI, 2009
  • Boswell Memorial Prize, Sheffield University, 1967
  • Lincolnshire Education Authority Prize, 1967
  • Outstanding Volunteer Award, IFT, 2006, 2008
  • Myron Solberg Award, IFT, 2011
  • Friendship Award, Chinese Institute of Food Science and Technology, 2008
  • Commander of the Order of the British Empire [CBE] for services to the agri-food industry by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll, 2009 New Year Honours.
  • University of East Anglia, Honorary Lecturer, 1971-1976
  • Universities of Nottingham, Reading and Portsmouth - Visiting Lecturer, 1975-1988
  • University of Surrey - Visiting Lecturer WHO Course 1979-1989
  • Queen's University, Belfast - Unilever Visiting Professor, 1991-2006
  • University of Birmingham - Honorary Professor, 1993-2009
  • Royal Agricultural University Cirencester - Visiting Professor from 2007 to date
  • Member of Selection Panel for World Food Prize, [Equivalent to Nobel Prize for Food] 1996 – 2002
  • Deputy Lieutenant for Gloucestershire, 2005. Appointed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth's representative in Gloucestershire for business leadership to act as one of his deputies.
  • Member of Court of the Honourable Company of Gloucestershire 2012 to date
  • Assistant Warden 2013 – 2014, Warden 2014 - 2015 - Honourable Company of Gloucestershire.
  • Board Member of Gloucestershire Development Agency 2001 - 2009
  • Chair of Economic Advisory Group, Gloucestershire Development Agency 2001 - 2009