POSITION TITLE: Senior Nutritionist | Product Technology Center
Tell me about your career path to becoming a Nutritionist.
My passion for pets started when I was young and I knew from the beginning that I wanted to dedicate my life to bettering the lives of our furry friends. Growing up, I showed and trained my dogs and cats in 4-H, volunteered at animal shelters, and organized birthday parties for my cats. Like many animal science majors, I wanted to become a veterinarian, but I was also very interested in nutrition for myself. After my first animal nutrition course at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a lightbulb went off. I found a way to combine both of my passions: nutrition and pets. I continued my education by obtaining a Master's Degree and PhD in Animal Sciences/Nutrition. Through research and fellowships, I had numerous opportunities to present my work around the U.S. and in Europe, teach in a classroom and laboratory setting, and study nutrition in different species –even humans!
What made you decide to join Nestlé Purina? What did you do prior?
Working as a Nutritionist at a major pet food company was my dream job; I joined Nestlé Purina in January of 2015 after working as a Postdoctoral Research Associate, where I focused on ingredient evaluation for their application to pet food.
What makes working in STEM at Nestlé Purina different from other companies?
I've always had a more applied mindset when it comes to research, and I love that this job allows me to do science, but see my work translated into a product. At Nestlé Purina, a lot of time and resources are invested in bringing science to life in our foods.
What are your primary responsibilities day-to-day?
My team works on many different projects and no two days are the same. Some of my responsibilities are to formulate diets for R&D projects, provide nutritional recommendations of inclusion levels for functional ingredients, support the nutrition behind 'Just Right' – a custom dog food tailored to a dog's breed, activity level, age and health, and to provide nutritional support to all regions of the world. I also work very closely with our scientists in the basic science group and new innovation partnerships, where my primary role is to act as the bridge between basic science and product development.
What unique skills make someone successful in the position?
My team collaborates with every group in the organization, both locally and globally. Therefore, having the ability to work with many different people and adapt quickly are key factors in being successful in this role.
Tell us about the most exciting project you've completed or are currently working on.
I recently completed a project that added a unique functional ingredient to some of our dry product lines. The project started as as an exploratory project, but quickly escalated and two global markets will or have already launched products using the new ingredient technology.
Our Founder challenges us with the 'Dare to Stand Taller.' How do you Stand Taller?
I am proud to work for a company that cares about the quality of the products it produces. Every day I dare to Stand Taller in challenging myself to be the best I can, so I can improve the lives of dogs and cats around the world through functional nutrition.
What advice would you tell someone considering applying for a role at Nestlé Purina?
My advice is to be open-minded and take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. Develop public speaking skills and network whenever possible.
Outside of work, what are you passionate about?
I love photography, traveling, cooking, DIY projects, and of course my pets! I have one cat (Prada, a Maine Coon mix) and two dogs (Midnight, a Chiweenie and Guinness, a Doxalier). I adopted Prada when I was in graduate school. I found both of my dogs on Petfinder and, yes, my dogs come with me to work every day!