Ernest Ndi Embola, Ph.D, MBA, CFS

Ernest Ndi Embola, Ph.D, MBA, CFSEmbola Ndi was named vice president of Food, Health & Beauty for Disney Consumer Products (DCP) in June 2006. In this role, he manages the North American Food, Health and Beauty line of business and leads strategic vision and direction, oversees Global Product Innovation and Development, negotiates and manages key licensee and retailer relationships, and leads a team of marketers and product experts. Most recently, Dr. Ndi has been a driving force behind The Walt Disney Company's strategy to promote healthy eating habits for kids and families within the licensed food portfolio globally.

From vitamins and personal care to fresh fruits and snacks, Disney's Food, Health & Beauty line of business has played an integral role in the growth of DCP. Disney Food, Health & Beauty offers products for all ages inspired by beloved Disney characters, Disney films and Disney Channel entertainment. Disney Food, Health & Beauty recently entered the pet category offering an assortment of high quality whimsical products – from pet food and apparel to pet beds and accessories.

Dr. Ndi has 20 years of experience in the food industry, with product innovation and quality hallmarks of his career to date. Prior to joining DCP, Ndi served as vice president, food division, at MARS Inc. USA where he oversaw research & development, packaging and technology development in North America. Previously, Dr. Ndi served as program leader for product innovation at Campbell Soup Company and also held roles in International Product Development; he was also Manager of Technical Services for Nalley’s Fine Foods (now part of Pinnacle Foods Inc.); Dr. Ndi conducted academic research at Washington State University and was a Rockefeller Fellow at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Nigeria. Dr. Ndi served on the Foundation Board of Trustees for the Institute of Food Technologists and is an advisory board member of Zoupons Inc. Dr. Ndi has also served as National President for the Sacred Heart Alumni Association in the United States.

He holds an executive certification in Strategy and Innovation from MIT; an MBA from Colorado State University, doctorate in food science from Washington State University and a Bachelor in Food Process Engineering from Jiangnan University in P. R. China.

Chromeless Video Player branded for IFT

What do you feel you can contribute to the growth and advancement of IFT?
I will devote my time and energy to help IFT achieve its mission and goals. With my global leadership experience, I can contribute my passion and enthusiasm to help IFT enhance member engagement, enable global participation and leverage strategic partnerships.

I am passionate about the future of the food science & technology profession. After championing Disney’s IFTSA student competition and “Day in the Life” video footage, I will continue to advocate for initiatives that inspire the next generation of food professionals and programs that support professional growth and development of IFT members.

My 20 years of global experience in food research and innovation across 6 continents provides me with an in-depth appreciation of collaboration strategies that are effective across diverse cultures and practices. I can contribute these insights to drive membership participation across all regions and help IFT attain global science leadership.

With working experience in licensing operations involving third parties, I have gained valuable insights in framing win-win partnerships with other organizations. I feel I can provide IFT with guidance on partnering with other organization to effectively address emerging strategic issues that require cross-disciplinary solutions.

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?
The food industry faces challenges and opportunities that are inter-related, multidisciplinary and require strategic considerations and partnerships. Given the rapid change in technology and population growth, it is important for IFT to be progressive and agile to meet the needs of the new economy.

1. Food Safety/Security

With a rapidly growing global population and increased globalization of the market space, it is critical to ensure safe, adequate, nutritious and sustainable food. Options include:

  • Creative approaches and benchmarks to enable global collaboration, effective networking of best practices/technologies within the food community.
  • Foster effective science-based communication that builds consumer trust and enables informed participation in public policy/regulatory arenas.
  • Actively support fundraising initiatives for food research, product/technology innovation and relevant existing initiatives.
2. Health & Wellness

Given the prominence of diet-related illnesses (diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases) and obesity, leveraging advances in food/nutrition to positively impact the health and wellbeing of present and future generations is a multi-faceted issue that requires new partnerships and collaborations, including:

  • New partnerships across industry, academia & regulatory bodies that enable development of innovative, multi-disciplinary solutions from farm-to-fork, including production agriculture, nutrition, culinary, medical/ health sciences.
  • Science-based communication and education programs that inform the public on healthy eating and food options.
  • Partnering with industry to drive innovation that contributes to tasty, healthy foods.
3. Human / Capital Resources

With evolving consumer demand, a complex regulatory landscape and new shopping/purchasing patterns, there is growing need for human/capital resources with the agility to be relevant in the new information-, networked- and knowledge-based economy. Resources are scarce and there is increasing need for talented professionals to drive research, innovation and food policy decisions.

I would propose the Board of Directors explore these options:

  • Motivate and inspire new and prospective talents to join the food profession and become active IFT members.
  • Seek innovative approaches to provide opportunities for engaging existing and prospective members. Enable mutual partnerships with strategic industry leaders, academia and regulatory agencies.
  • Support the IFT Foundation board and IFTSA in fundraising/PR initiatives that promote interest and reinforce skill sets that prepare students for career opportunities.

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 want to serve on the board because of my passion, commitment, and interest in IFT and its mission.

I volunteered and served as a member of the IFT Board of Trustees from 2002 through 2009. During my tenure, I gained a good working knowledge of IFT and appreciation of IFT’s strategic direction and fundraising priorities. My experiences as a foundation board member helped prepare me with the commitment and engagement it takes to be an effective board member.

In addition, I have 20 years’ experience in the food industry ranging from basic research, product development, food innovation management and global executive leadership in multi-national corporations. I believe the breadth and depth of my experiences in developing and implementing strategies, across diverse cultures and geographies, enables me to contribute strategic guidance and insights to help IFT in setting and delivering on its strategic goals. In my global product leadership role within Disney Consumer Products and Mars Inc., I partnered effectively with IFT to drive specific initiatives that advanced IFT’s goals including Diversity initiatives, Disney IFTSA Product development Competition and “Day in the Life” video footage to motivate and inspire students to become food professionals.

My leadership experience in food innovation across 6 continents provides me with an in-depth appreciation of diverse cultures and practices. This global experience provides valuable and proven strategies to enable global collaboration and in framing strategic partnerships with third party organizations. My executive leadership experience in driving the development/implementation
of Healthy Living strategy across diverse cultures allows me to help IFT impact the Health & Wellness of present and future generations.  

What defines a successful board and how would you contribute?
A successful board provides appropriate oversight (financial, legal, governance) and strategic support that helps the organization align its programs to its mission and strategy. The board membership should comprise a diversity of skills and experiences that are aligned with organization’s needs and members’ interests.

An effective board embraces diverse viewpoints, helps frame decisions, defines organizational priorities, raises funds, and ensures organizational goals are met. Board members are ambassadors of the organization and leverage their networks to help the organization advance its goals. Last but not least, a successful board evaluates its own performance and works collaboratively to enhance its effectiveness.

As a board member, I would be a team player that fosters collaboration and consensus building to help the IFT Board of Directors deliver on its strategic/oversight responsibilities. I will leverage my industry network to support fundraising and outreach initiatives that drive engagement of existing and prospective members. In addition, I will contribute valuable insights that would foster effective collaboration and sharing of best practices within the global food science community. In leading Disney’s healthy living initiative for licensed products globally, I gained insights and valuable perspectives on global collaboration strategies that can help IFT enhance member participation across all regions.

Formal Education
Executive Certification, 2006, Strategy and Innovation, MIT
MBA, 2001, Business Administration, Colorado State University
PhD, 1994, Food Science and Nutrition, Washington State University
BS 1988 Food Process Engineering, Jiangnan University, P.R. China

Career History

Company

Title

Start Date

End Date

Disney Consumer Products

V.P, Global Product Development

2011

Present

Disney Consumer Products

GM, Food, Health & Beauty

2009

2011

Disney Consumer Products

V.P, Global Product Innovation & Strategy

2006

2009

Mars, Inc.

V.P, Research & Development

2004

2006

Mars, Inc.

Director, New Brands

2003

2004

Campbell Soup Company

Program Leader, Product Innovation

2001

2003

Campbell Soup Company

Senior Research Scientist -
International Product Development

1997

2001

Nalley's (Pinnacle Foods Inc.)

Manager, Technical Services

1995

1997

Washington State University

Senior Research Associate

1994

1995

International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Ibadan Nigeria

Rockefeller Research Fellow

1993

1994

Leadership Experience

Company/Org

Position

Start Date

End Date

Disney Consumer Products - Magic of
Healthy Living

Global Licensing Lead

2011

Present

Zoupons Inc

Advisory Board Member

2013

Present

IFT Feeding Tomorrow

Board of Trustees Member

2005

2009

IFT Foundation Board

Board Member

2002

2006

Shesa America (Alumni Association)

National President

2002

2004

Professional and Community Recognition

  • Certified Food Scientist (CFS) – Institute of Food Technologist
  • Foundation Board Member – Institute of Food Technologist
  • Rockefeller Research Fellow – International Institute of Tropical Agriculture
  • Proud Performance Awards – Campbell Soup Company
  • Make a Difference Awards – MARS Inc.
  • IFT Graduate Scholarship Award - IFT