Face-to-Face: Meet John Bridges
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...
John Bridges, Senior Sensory Scientist at Tate & Lyle.
- How did you get your start in the food industry?
I was working the midnight shift in a convenience store shortly after graduating with a B.S. in Biochemistry. I received a call from a school buddy who was working at Frito-Lay. He told me that another person we had gone to school with had just been fired from their QC position. I showed up at the plant the next morning before the personnel manager and when he arrived I informed him that I wanted to apply for the vacancy that he had not heard about yet. I got the job and have worked in the food industry ever since… Except for those 18 months I spent in women’s fashion.
- What do you love about your job?
I love problem solving. Colleagues come to me with questions they need answered but are not quite sure what the best method would be. I listen to what the issues are and then probe to ensure I understand what they really need. I can then plan, implement, and analyze the data and find the answers to the questions being asked. I love data analysis! It is really nice when people tell you that the results of a study are just what they needed. But effective communications with all types of people is very important. See below.
- What is the biggest challenge that you face in your job?
I have used statistics for more than 30 years and extensively in my current position. It has always been a challenge for me to effectively communicate technical findings to a non-technical audience. Doing a study is a waste of time if you cannot communicate to your teammates the results in a way that they can use in their job to improve results.
- What have you learned or been exposed to in the past 12 months that has helped you in your job?
I really like to use sensory evaluation methods that do not rely on language, such as specifying an attribute. For example, consumers do not differentiate between crunchy and crispy the way descriptive panelists are trained to do. A grouping exercise where people are asked to group products, using any criteria they want, is a way to get around language. DISTATIS is a statistical method that provides a map of the products relative to each other and also maps the panelists to products. If you ask the panelists to name their groups you can also do a correspondence analysis and have labels for your product map. Which is how I know consumers do not differentiate between crunchy and crispy.
- How do you see the food industry evolving over the coming year?
I think we will see a continuation of niche marketing with ethnic flavors and healthy options. World-wide, I see developing countries like China and India using more speciality ingredients to improve the quality of their processed foods.
- Fun Fact: What’s your favorite food?
Right now I am thinking about fresh mussels steamed in white wine, butter, and a little garlic.
If you are an IFT member and wish to be profiled, please contact Kelly Hensel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-604-0211.