Food Safety & Quality Assurance, MSc DE
Why did you choose to complete your graduate studies in your program at the University of Guelph?
I was looking to advance my knowledge and stay current with industry. I also wanted to conduct research that I know will add value. This program has allowed me to combine both of those goals. I’ve taken courses in topics that were interesting and important to my career, and it also has given me the opportunity to conduct research.
The University of Guelph is very connected to the Canadian food industry and carries a strong reputation. It’s well known for the quality of its education and research output in academic circles, governments, and the manufacturing world. Graduates are able to make an impact in all areas.
I completed a diploma offered by the University in Food Science at the former Kemptville Campus. After reconnecting with some of my professors I knew Guelph was able to provide the experience I was looking for, and one of them even became my research advisor.
A bit about your path...
I started in the food industry almost by accident. My undergraduate studies were in Political Science, and I found jobs as a machine operator in food factories just to pay for my education. By the time I was graduating; I realized I had a passion for the complicated world of food manufacturing. I wanted to contribute to the public good by working in the field of food safety.
I went on to study Food Science at the Kemptville Campus. When I graduated, I started my career in production management roles for some of the largest food factories in the country. After a few years, I had the opportunity to transition into food safety/quality assurance and I haven’t looked back.
Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for a prospective grad student or someone who would like to follow in your footsteps?
Make sure your decisions are based on a meaningful purpose. The phrase “What you put in is what you get out” is what I return to repeatedly. It applies to you as a person, the work you do, and the food you make. You need purpose to make anything of consequence happen. It’s been over a decade since I made my first decisions to enter the field of food safety, and I’m even more committed to it today than I was then.
A bit about the work you are doing here...
My research is focused on simplifying the world of food safety; to support implementation of lean food safety management systems within business operations. There are many businesses which don’t have the resources to invest in large scale food safety teams but everyone has the same obligation to protect consumers. I’m excited to work on a project like this because of its real-world applications.
How do you think the work you are doing at U of G can potentially improve life?
I became drawn to the idea after years working in different business functions, witnessing common problems everywhere I went. Knowledge silos prevent teams from working together to deliver results – and I’ve had success by breaking down silos to achieve improvements in food safety. My goal is to share some of this experience to help guide industry at large to improve their operations.
What do you like best about UofG campus?
Even though my program has been completely online I still come to the University to complete my work. The campus is known for the quality of its food, and there is a workspace available exclusively to graduate students when you want to get away from the crowd. I also enjoy the amount of outdoor space on campus when you need to get out and take a break.
Tell us something about you, beyond being a grad student.
In my spare time I’m a huge audiophile. Most of my free time between academics and work is spent listening to my stereo, digging around for new music, or researching audio. It’s hard to find me at any time without hearing music playing from somewhere.
Briefly describe what it is like to be a graduate student at UofG