Sharrann Simmons

Sharrann SimmonsI have worked professionally in the global food industry for over 30 years. While I have held many titles in my career, I always think of myself first as a food scientist. This has shaped both my career choices and my longstanding interest in food microbiology and food safety. Initially, I started out my career in new product development and then moved onto more commercial functions, but I have always relied on my strong technical foundation in Food Science. I have focused on the ingredient supply side of the food industry and have enjoyed positions in sales & marketing management, technical service management and general management.

Throughout my career I have been involved with IFT at some level, going back to my first annual meeting (Anaheim) during my undergraduate program at Purdue University. I have been active in local IFT sections in Indianapolis, Cleveland, Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York and Chicago. The Annual IFT Meeting and Expo is consistently a high point of my year and a time to reconnect with old friends and colleagues, in addition to gaining new information on the food industry and as a supplier, perhaps even trying to sell something…!  More recently I have been involved with IFT’s Strategic Planning Initiative, Exhibitor Strategic Dialogue Meetings, and various committees and task forces including the initial task force to develop a certification program. I am very happy to say that I am now a Certified Food Scientist and proudly show this on my business card and other professional documents.

Throughout my career, IFT has been my professional organization and also a “touchpoint” and important link that helped me feel connected to the broader food industry, food academia and also related fields such as biochemistry and engineering.  At one point in my career, I had the good fortune to experience an ex-patriot assignment in Brussels, Belgium. While I absolutely loved this opportunity to learn more about international business and culture, the one missing piece in my 5 year assignment was IFT. This really taught me how connected I was to the IFT organization and how much IFT contributed to my professional life.

At this point in my career, I am focused on increasing what I can give back to the food industry and IFT. The next logical step is to take on more responsibility in the IFT organization and I feel I can contribute significantly as an IFT Board Member.

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What do you feel you can contribute to the growth and advancement of IFT?
See comments below on Global Relevance.

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?
Today, IFT faces many challenges as does the global food industry. I would highlight the three most important strategic issues as:

1. Global Relevance
For IFT to maintain and grow its membership in the future, it is crucial for the organization to maintain its relevance and importance in the global food industry and to individual members. To address this issue, IFT must successfully expand past its current NA base and become a larger player on the global food stage. Every day, IFT members are also faced with the challenge of maneuvering the global food world.
Supply chains in most every market segment are now global supply chains with all the related complications. The IFT Board is well positioned to make global expansion a key priority for the entire IFT organization, which would well serve its current and future members.

2. Water
Access to clean, safe water is becoming a critical problem in many parts of the world. IFT is well positioned to address this water crisis, both from the perspective of using less water in food processing operations to finding new and more efficient ways to purify water for drinking. The IFT Board can be supportive of this cause by engaging the resources of IFT’s lobby in Washington, DC and also bringing together key thought leaders to brainstorm potential solutions. This is one of the many issues facing the world community and the IFT Board has the ability to place the proper priority on the important issue of clean water accessibility for all.

3. Feeding the World Population
Providing a safe and abundant food supply to a world approaching 9 Billion people is a monumental task. I believe IFT can play a pivotal role in feeding the world, while utilizing technology in the best possible way. The IFT Board can play a key role in prioritizing and directing the efforts of IFT to focus and participate in finding viable solutions for this global problem.

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?
Throughout my career, I have been involved in business, trade and community organizations ranging from homeowners associations and trade groups, to one of my current activities, working with DuPage County PADS organization in their homeless shelters. In any volunteer situation, one of the most important things is to be true and honest in your commitments and also delivery what you promise. I have learned that by creating a functional team with complementary members all contributing in a way that maximizes their key strengths, you can yield amazing results. In my business career, I have been involved in developing teams for acquisition projects and innovation research which required a diverse set of skills. In these situations I was able to assemble, lead and motivate a team that delivered successful projects in record time.

What defines a successful board and how would you contribute?
A successful board provides leadership and direction to an organization and its leaders. Some of the most successful boards I have experienced were very clear and transparent regarding their primary purpose, goals (short and long term) and challenges. I believe my business experience, both in the US and globally, have given me the skills needed to strongly contribute to the IFT Board, especially as they embark on a growth program to significantly expand outside of North America. My years in sales and marketing have truly honed my people skills and provided me with leadership ability in driving teams toward a common goal. Also, I have discussed the IFT Board with my current employer and have strong support to participate on the IFT Board.

Formal Education
Attended, Kellogg Executive Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University - Marketing
MS, 1978, Food Science, Purdue University – Food Microbiology
BS, 1977, Food Science, Purdue University

Career History

Company

Title

Start Date

End Date

Edlong Dairy Technologies

Director of Marketing

2013

Present

Silliker – Merieux Nutrisciences

Director of Product Marketing, NA

2011

2013

Cognis Corporation, Nutrition & Health Division (now BASF)

Marketing Director, NA

2007

2011

Colloides Naturels International (now Nexira)

Vice President & General Manager

2002

2007

International Specialty Products (ISP)

Vice President, Marketing & Product  Development

2001

2002

FMC Corporation

Director of Food Sales, NA

1999

2001

FMC Corporation

European Food Marketing Director

1995

1999

FMC Corporation

Global Commercial Development Manager

1993

1995

FMC Corporation

Product Manager, Specialty Excipients

1990

1993

FMC Corporation

Senior Technical Sales Representative

1988

1990

Bunge Edible Oil Corporation

Technical Service Manager

1982

1988

L.S. Heath & Son

Food Technologist

1981

1982

Durkee Foods

National Technical Service Rep &    Food Technologist

1978

1981

Leadership Experience

Company/Org

Position

Start Date

End Date

Chicago IFT – Program Comm.

Member

2013

Present

IFT –Exhibitor Strategic Dialog

Member

2010

2012

Global Food Forums, Inc.

Advisory Board

2011

Present

IFT Strategic Planning

Member

2010

2012

United Methodist Women (UMW)

Board of Directors, Social Action Chair

2010

Present

Nutraceuticals World Magazine

Industry Advisory Board

2009

Present

IFT Task Force - Certification

Task Force Member

2009

2011

Connamara Homeowners Assn.

Board of Directors, Secretary & President

2008

2013

Professional and Community Recognition

  • FMC Division Award – Outstanding Achievement in New Products, 1998
  • Distinguished Agricultural Alumni Award – Purdue University, 2003
  • Outstanding Food Science Award – Purdue University, 2004
  • Certified Food Scientist, CFS (IFT), 2013
  • DuPage PADS – Shelter Volunteer & Fundraising