Face-to-Face: Meet Bridget McClatchey
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...
Bridget McClatchey, Sr. Food Technologist, Dairy Foods Division: Retail Cheese Group, Land O’ Lakes
- As a relatively new member to the workforce, what made you decide to pursue a job in the food industry?
As a high school senior, I had my mind set on the science field and chose pharmacy as my declared major entering college. Within my program of study for Pharmacy I chose Food & Nutrition as my minor since I was very interested in the nutritional aspects of food and how they applied to the human body. After I took my first nutrition class, which was actually titled ‘Intro to Food Science,’ I knew I had stumbled across something great. Entering college I had never heard of Food Science as a career option but once I found it I was hooked! What could be better than having a career where you get to work, play, and eat food all day? I quickly switched from Pharmacy school to the schools of Agriculture and Family & Consumer Sciences, as I double majored in Food Science and Food & Nutrition in Business. This came as no surprise to my family and friends as I came from an agriculture and 4-H intensive background as well as had a mother who taught Family & Consumer Sciences.
Lucky for me, Purdue University was recognized as one of the best food science programs in the world. Purdue helped educate me on how to expand and transfer my knowledge to help advance the continuous improvement of the safety, quality, and value of food. I was also very fortunate to have undergraduate research opportunities, internship opportunities, and involvement opportunities within IFT which all helped me pursue a job in the food industry.
- What do you love about your job?
I have a long list of reasons as to why I love my job. Though it was tough to narrow my list down, I managed to pick the top three things that make me love my job the most. Constant variation is one of the things I enjoy the most about working in Research & Development. While you might be working on new product ideation one day the next day you could be working on processing technologies, cost reduction, or traveling to a production site to interface with plant employees.
The second thing I enjoy is the balance between hands-on experience with that of the sometimes monotonous computer and paperwork. I could never see myself sitting behind a desk staring at my computer all day and in R&D I never have too. Even though I have days where a majority of my time is screen time, I always have other tasks that involve me being in the lab, the pilot plant, or at a production site.
The third thing I love about my job is the environment and people! I’ve had the opportunity to experience a variety of food companies including small, medium, large, and co-op’s and found they each have distinctive environments. Each company has a culture that they portray and in order to love your job you really need to feel comfortable in the culture and agree with it! At Land O’ Lakes, I feel strongly about our culture and the values we have as a company—“To be one of the best food and agriculture companies in the world.”
- What is the biggest challenge that you face in your job?
The biggest challenge I face in my job is balance. Working in R&D things are constantly moving and changing. Therefore, you have to be able to balance, prioritize, and change with each new task and project you are given. In my experience, organization is a contributing factor to success in a fast paced work environment!
- What have you learned or been exposed to in the past 12 months that has helped you in your job?
Being relatively new to the food industry I continually learn something new each day I am at work, which is very exciting! Along with working in R&D, I am also working on my Master’s degree in the area of food chemistry, which gives me the privilege of learning new knowledge at school that I can apply to my job responsibilities at Land O’ Lakes. I also continue to be active in numerous IFT sections, divisions, and groups, which all allow me the opportunity to network and learn from other individuals in the food industry.
- How do you see the food industry evolving over the coming year?
The food industry is a complex and global collection of diverse businesses that are all working on new findings, innovations, breakthroughs, and conversations every day. With all these ‘new’ things happening it is no surprise that the food industry continues to change and evolve each year. I believe the major focus areas that will continue to evolve from where they are today and have a significant impact on the food industry over the coming year will include: sustainability, food & nutrition, consumer education, and public policy/regulations. As a food scientist it is hard to say exactly where I see the industry going; but no matter where it does go it will continue to push the boundaries and bring forth cutting-edge innovations and knowledge.
- Fun Fact: What’s your favorite food?
The dreaded question that every food scientist is faced with! If I had to choose it would be a tie between my mom’s meatloaf and homemade angel food cake.
If you are an IFT member and wish to be profiled, please contact Kelly Hensel at email@example.com or 312-604-0211.