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Lessons Learned from Influential Women in Food

Aug. 25, 2022
See what pearls of wisdom our 2022 Influential Women in Food honorees had to offer. You can also listen to each of their individual podcast episodes by clicking on each person's name.

According to a 2022 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women represented slightly more than 42% of the food manufacturing workforce. Additional reports indicate women make up 20% of senior leadership positions at food and beverage companies.

As the food and beverage industry attempts to increase—and improve—its post-pandemic labor force, Food Processing wanted to honor women and the companies they work for for the steps they’re taking to make the food and beverage industry more diverse and inclusive.

Earlier this year, we launched the Influential Women in Food Program, which sought to identify women—through peer-submitted nominations—who have moved the needle in the food and beverage industry. We spent the early months of 2022 asking our audience to nominate the women they felt best embodied the qualities of innovation, inspiration, and influence. In the Spring, we announced the our list of 2022 Honorees.

Throughout the summer months, we sat down with the honorees to find out what made them so innovative, inspiring, and influential. You'll be able to hear those conversations throughout the rest of the year via Food Processing's Food For Thought podcast.

While we roll out those episodes over the next few months, we wanted to share some of the best pieces of wisdom from the food and beverage industry's most influential women.

Words of Wisdom from the 2022 Influential Women in Food

"Start where you are and the rest will follow." - Javon Nicholas, Egg Rolls Etc.

"I realized that an early age that the only person that I can control is me, but who can I influence? Through training empowering and inspiring others, I can absolutely make a difference in this world." - Tara Paster Cammarata, Cenza, Inc.

"You need to have a strong voice. You need to own your brand. Like know who you are when you go in and what value you bring to the team." - Cloeann Durham, Coca-Cola

"Know your worth. If you know your worth and you're still not getting that from somewhere, there's a million other places that will foster your growth and will help you achieve your goals and achieve your full potential." - Alexis Bertrand, Reid's Dairy Company Ltd

"When you have a very monolithic group of people that are doing all the investing in the food space, you get products that miss out an entire swath of the population." - Jennifer Stojkovic, Founder, Vegan Women Summit

"It's okay to speak up for yourself if you feel like you're not being listened to or not being respected." - Alexis Bertrand, Reid's Dairy Company Ltd

"I wanted children to see that it doesn't matter where you came from, doesn't matter what you, where you're living. What matters is the seeds that you plant for your tomorrow." - Javon Nicholas, Egg Rolls Etc.

"The piece of advice that I call out the most is to slow down and take a breath. The burnout is not worth it." - Jona Hightower, LRQA

"Women should specifically help each other by pulling them in the ranks, including them, sharing links to other woman, sharing an opportunity that's for women. Don't just keep it to yourself. - Javon Nicholas, Egg Rolls Etc.

"That's part of what drives me to, to give women this support because they're not necessarily getting it and they don't necessarily know where to look for it." - Jona Hightower, LRQA

"My advice to people in business is number one, be a complete package. Number two, be brief and be brilliant. Number three, participate in life. Get off of the sidelines and get into life actively insert yourself into life and make it happen." - Tara Paster Cammarata, Cenza, Inc.

"I really spend a lot of time coaching my leadership team on balance. I describe it as a three three-legged stool. You have your family as one leg, you have work as another leg, you have your social outlet, whatever that may be, as a third leg. And if any of those are out of balance, you can't sit down. So it's really important to have a support network." - Ria Dake, Balchem Corporation

"You’ve got to find your inner leader, you’ve got to find what works for you, and you’ve got to find the right business, climate and community and culture that works for you. And that's no different if you're male or female." - Cloeann Durham, Coca-Cola

I believe it's always important to when you're trying to solve problems, get other people's perspectives. And I also think that people are a company's biggest assets." - Ria Dake, Balchem Corporation

"It's important to be open minded and to connect with others. You never know where that road might lead you; literally outside of your neighborhood." - Javon Nicholas, Egg Rolls Etc

"Feedback is a gift and we need to be open to accepting constructive criticism and seek it out for multiple sources."-  Ria Dake, Balchem Corporation

"Create a network of people you trust and seek their feedback. When you get their feedback, take whatever portions of it you need and use that to reinvent yourself."- Ria Dake, Balchem Corporation

"A lot has happened in this world from social media, to text messaging. As an adult learner, you have to communicate differently and you have to be able to adjust and you have to be able to change. And as the leader for training or instructing or inspiring others, you're the person that has to change, not your participants, not your students." - Tara Paster Cammarata, Cenza Inc.

"Be able to describe your company the way you would be proud to do it. Make sure that your mission is really what you believe, because you certainly can tell when people don't care. You certainly can tell when people have checked out. You certainly can tell when people are just going through the motions, but what is your mission? What do you believe in, what do you wanna inspire?" - Tara Paster Cammarata, Cenza Inc.

"We need to make sure that women have that representation at every single step of the company, because that's how we build better products. That's how we reach more and more consumers. The data does not lie. Diverse teams build better products." - Jennifer Stojkovic, Founder, Vegan Women Summit

"I think the ability to be able to see people for the role they hold, but also the power that they hold, no matter what it is. Whether it's someone that's working on the floor of a manufacturing center, operating a piece of equipment to someone who's actually leading a global company, you have to be willing to talk to them and understand where they're coming from." - Cloeann Durham, Coca-Cola

"Step out of your role. Go through a couple different roles. Look at the different types of manufacturing. Look at the different types of QA or QC you could do and find what you like and what you enjoy." - Jona Hightower, LRQA

"Just because you're asking for help doesn't mean you don't know what you're doing. It means you're being smart because it's okay to rely on other people's expertise at times to get feedback from others." - Alexis Bertrand, Reid's Dairy Company Ltd

"There's so many different perspectives and experiences that women bring to the table that we shouldn't be relegated to that tokenized role." - Jennifer Stojkovic, Founder, Vegan Women Summit

About the Author

Erin A. Hallstrom

Erin Hallstrom oversaw our digital content strategy for the Food Processing brand from 2008-2023. She is now the Associate Director of SEO Strategy for Endeavor Business Media, where she holds technical certifications in both website analytics and search engine optimization. Most recently, she was named the 2022 Marianne Dekker Mattera Award Winner

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