Face-to-Face: Meet Jeff Bohlscheid
Ever wonder if anyone else is facing the same professional challenges as you? Or just looking to connect with some new people in your field? In IFT's Face-to-Face series, we will be introducing you to a different IFT member every month with a fun, insightful Q&A session.
This month meet...
Jeff Bohlscheid, Science & Technology Manager, The J. R. Simplot Co.
- How did you get your start in the food industry?
My first job in the food industry was working at KFC in high school. Much later after my first go-around in college (UCSD), I was very fortunate to get jobs in small but very creative restaurants in San Diego during the California Cuisine explosion. Realizing that I needed to improve my skill rapidly if I was going to be able to perform at the level I wished, I entered and graduated from the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. I then had a series of cooking jobs with high end caterers, white linen restaurants, as well as wine and spirits sales. Wanting to make a living, I started working in healthcare food service, that eventually progressed into an internal consultant position for a national rehabilitation hospital chain. It was working with therapeutic and texture modified diets that I discovered that there was a food science discipline. I decided to go to graduate school in food science, and on my way received a chemistry degree with a biochemistry emphasis (CSU Hayward). I received my Ph.D. in Food Science at Washington State University working on wine yeast physiology, and continued my studies as a Postdoc making wine and researching wine yeast in commercial wineries. I took a teaching, recruiting, and advising position, with some research, in the School of Food Science at the University of Idaho (Go Vandals). Here, I dabbled in coffee, sous-vide, value added legume products, and culinology. This last summer I accepted a position at the J.R. Simplot Co. based in Boise, Idaho, as the new Science & Technology Manager. Here is where I believe I am REALLY starting in the food industry.
- What do you love about your job?
I get to be the biggest food science geek ever. Perhaps, I am still in the honeymoon stage, as I have been here only six months, but the position allows me to use many of my past experiences, skills, and connections in helping to solve some very challenging problems. My job description is very broadly written and allows me to interact with sales, marketing, QA, operations, R&D, chefs, and our customers daily. I am learning something new every day, solving problems, and mentoring younger scientists. I have results that I can hold in my hand more often than not. Our company is undergoing some very exciting improvements and I get to be part of the solution.
- What is the biggest challenge that you face in your job?
I would have to say that there are actually two closely related challenges with respect to my position: time and information management. Ultimately, how do I efficiently collect, evaluate, and package the required information for my stakeholders in such a way that they can make effective tactical and strategic decisions, while learning our business? For instance, Marketing, Operations, and QA may have different needs and wants on the same topics and speak different languages at times, but I need to be able to help the work through the particular challenge. But this is a good challenge, like rock climbing.
- What have you learned or been exposed to in the past 12 months that has helped you in your job?
I would have to say it is more re-learned or reinforced: Communication, teamwork, and education. An organization that does not have effective means of communicating its goals, strategies, and needs is sunk. If the employees of the company cannot come together to meet the goals, will not use the decided upon strategies, and do not address the needs, the organization will fail. And finally, the members of the organization need to be in a continuing state of evolution and embracing life-long learning; because if they do not, they will be left behind. There is far too much competition to be standing still.
- How do you see the food industry evolving over the coming year?
In the United States I think some of the issues will be dealing with the fallout from last year’s drought. How can we address tighter margins? I think that more and better automation is going to be important. And this will affect low-skill jobs. The graying of the food industry is accelerating and there will be an increased demand for skilled white collar labor that might put a great squeeze on hiring practices. Internationally, I think the food industry needs to be very wary of the political and food security issues in developing countries. The industry needs to make sure people are fed appropriately, or we may see a second wave of the 2008 problems that will be very destabilizing to the world economy.
- Fun Fact: What’s your favorite food?
My friend Chein Fei’s pot stickers. She comes over and destroys our kitchen making mounds of fresh pot stickers, using handmade dough. A little tamari sauce and away we go!
If you are an IFT member and wish to be profiled, please contact Kelly Hensel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-604-0211.