IFT member Luan Blancher recently read the children’s book What Do You Do with a Problem by Kobi Yamada with her family. At the end of the book, it indicated that every problem holds an opportunity. This, Luan said, is how she is choosing to look at her current situation.
An associate category manager for Givaudan Flavors in Cincinnati, OH, Luan develops marketing strategies and campaigns that drive consumer centricity. She also partners with sales in providing marketing expertise for food and beverage customers.
While other departments are still reporting to the office or lab because most of their jobs can’t be done from home, Luan has been able to work remotely since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Like many, Luan said online communications technologies such as Zoom and WebEx have enabled her to participate in virtual discussion groups and stay connected with her team. While this was not a big change since her IFT calls were already virtual, it proved to be a welcome change to see colleagues and peers outside of work.
Luan said the shift to a virtual work environment is not without its challenges, but her team remains optimistic, injecting humor into the workday to lighten the mood when needed. Having her son running and playing in the background, as well as making cameo visits on video calls makes the days a bit more interesting. Her husband makes appearances on video calls every now and then too. Although it is not always easy, Luan said she tries to remain flexible and has found some creative ways to manage through. If she’s on a call without video and is just listening, she tries to sneak in a few exercises such as squats. She is also doing more art and science projects with her son, taking more walks in the neighborhood, and enjoying family game nights.
In addition to adapting to the “work from home with family” way of life, Luan said her worries extend beyond her immediate household. She shared that one of her best friends is currently working at a hospital in the epicenter of the pandemic. She also has family living outside of the U.S., so she is constantly listening, reading, and watching the news from several countries to better understand what her loved ones are facing.
Despite her personal and professional concerns and challenges, Luan recognizes the importance of the food industry and is proud to be part of it. “It is comforting to know that during a time of stress and uncertainty, we are still able to provide a basic need for most people.”
Thinking longer-term, Luan can’t help but wonder how this unforeseen event will affect us as a society. “The world is in a state of chaos and this will undoubtedly influence many adults and children, both physically and mentally. From a food industry perspective, so many people are making purchases today out of necessity rather than preference, which may lead to an overall change in consumers’ preferences. I also think there will be increased awareness and emphasis on food safety, traceability, food engineering, and to an extent food packaging in the months to come.”
In the meantime, Luan is making the most of the time with her family and enjoying one of her favorite distractions—humor. She highly recommends watching funny movies, TV shows, and clips on social media to unwind and bring a smile to your face.
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