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Interview with
Deborah Williams
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Interview with
Diana Lewis

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Interview

Diana Lewis - Product development

Q  Where were you before joining Aspire2Develop?

A  Working in the food industry for companies like Tesco, Kerry Ingredients, Virgin Atlantic and Uniq, my last role being Director of NPD & Nutrition for a distributor in the South West.  These companies have enabled me to work with frozen, chilled and ambient producers in North and South America, Asia, Africa and extensively across Europe; which in turn has given me an appreciation of the challenges faced by different levels of the supply chain, in a ferociously competitive global market.

Q    Have you got any qualifications?

A    I have an MA in Professional Development in Management (Merit), a BSc (Hons) in Home Economics and Diplomas in Food Hygiene (Hons), Nutrition and Nutritional Therapeutics.

Q   What's your passion?

   My expertise is in product development, but my passion is performance enhancement - whether it be student, employee, department, organisation or industry, I believe that performance maximisation is key to creating and maintaining competitive advantage.

Q   What lessons have you learned along the way?

A    I have learned that you can do anything if you apply yourself; that there are always people and circumstances to learn from; that respect is most definitely earned; that you should always be genuine and jealously guard your integrity; that you need to be comfortable with who and what you are before you can lead and expect others to follow; that a culture that supports simplicity, clarity, fairness and fun seems to promote productivity.

Q   Why specialise in product development?

A    It’s been much of my working life (with a bit of technical and nutrition thrown in).  Working with customers and manufacturers around Europe, made me realise the extent of the lack of discipline towards developing commercially viable products that satisfy the needs of the consumer, retailer and producer and therefore the potential for a service that supports the human element of the development process. 

Q   Why include educational establishments?

A   The development and employability of young people is an area that I am inherently interested in, in fact my Masters dissertation was about managing young workers and their expectations.  As the food industry has identified a potential skills shortage as a major challenge for the future, I would like to contribute to improving the perception of the industry. 
Some time ago, I was asked to speak to students who all showed promise in technology and were interested in food, but none were planning to continue with appropriate subjects to pursue a career in food technology.  After providing insight into my career, including travel, personal and financial reward, two reconsidered their subject options. Why?  Because they had no idea what a career in the food industry involves and how rewarding it can be.

I now have the opportunity to work with educational establishments to not only raise awareness of the opportunities that the food industry can offer, motivating students to choose the right subjects at the right time or consider the industry as a preferred post higher education employment option, but also to help enable graduates to deliver inherent value to their organisations more quickly, by being more entrepreneurial in their thought processes and enterprising in their initiatives.

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