2020 has arrived! Even more so than the typical new year, a new decade evokes feelings of new beginnings, fresh starts, and clean slates. Anything seems possible when you think about all that can be accomplished in 10 years. It’s an exciting time filled with much anticipation.
As the decade gets underway, millions of people partake in the age-old tradition of writing New Year’s resolutions. Instead of creating resolutions, I like to spend time in January evaluating my personal and professional goals. Are my goals still valid, or do they need to be adjusted? Are there new goals I want to achieve? Is my current approach to achieving my goals working, or does something need to change in order to get where I want to be? Where do I want to be at the end of the year, and moreover, at the end of the decade?
Business strategists increasingly describe the current climate in many industries, including food and beverage, as volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA). While many strategies have been suggested to help people survive in a VUCA environment, one that I find incredibly important and strongly encourage is carving out time for selfcare— mentally, physically, and spiritually. At my employer this year, we are referring to these refreshing breaks as “fireside moments,” where we give ourselves the space to step away from our desk, connect with others, and recharge our batteries. It is in these moments that we often find clarity, perspective, and exactly what we need to address the many challenges on our list.
Among the many activities in motion this fiscal year at IFT is the first step toward refreshing our strategic plan, ensuring it positions us well to address the VUCA needs of our industry and the consumers we serve. At our November Board of Directors’ meeting, we participated in an excellent training session on strategy, which led to thoughtful and substantive discussions on the current and future state of the organization. This provides the foundation for the important work yet to come.
We all agree that IFT has so much opportunity to continue having a meaningful impact on the global food system in the year and decade to come. Consumers have strong views on environmental sustainability, the use of technology in food, the link between food and desired health outcomes, clean label, food safety, and a host of other food-related concerns. Fortunately, the IFT community is well positioned to address these concerns head on.
We are committed to sustainability and ensuring we are responsibly using the resources available today so they will continue to be available tomorrow. We understand the critical role technology has in developing foods that are safe, enjoyable, and nutritious. We are passionate about innovation and seeking novel approaches to address the challenges we face and consumer demands. We are working tirelessly with industry partners to enhance global food traceability, thereby increasing transparency and mitigating and managing risk around food safety recalls. But what got us where we are will not be enough to bring us to our desired future, so refreshing our strategic plan is essential.
In a constantly changing and challenging environment, we do realize that our greatest asset as an organization is our people. I mean it when I say we convene the best and brightest minds in the science of food. From students to new professionals to mid-careerists to retirees, the people who come together within IFT are singularly focused on tackling the challenges and opportunities facing the global food industry. As we look to the future, it will be critical to work closer with other industries that have a direct connection to our ability to reliably put safe and nutritious food on tables around the world. It will also be imperative that we continue to grow our circle, bringing more food scientists and technologists to the table. If you have a colleague or friend that could benefit from the experience, please invite them to join us. We would love to welcome them to our vibrant community.
As you step into this new decade, I encourage you to commit to more fireside moments to think about your personal and professional goals. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? What changes do you need to make to align your personal beliefs and attitudes with your work? How will you help shine a positive light on the amazing work you and your peers do every day? What mark will you leave on the science of food?
I look forward to working with you to find solutions to the challenges we know about now and manage through the VUCA times on the horizon in 2020 and beyond.