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Equal Opportunity Magazine, launched in 1968, is a career-guidance and recruitment magazine offered at no charge to qualified African American, Hispanic, Native-American, and Asian-American college students and professionals in career disciplines. Equal Opportunity empowers readers to move ahead in their job search and/or current workplace environment.

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 Sweet Opportunity

 
A feast of sweet and satisfying jobs beckons in the food manufacturing and consumer packaged goods industries.
 
Consumer packaged goods. Food manufacturing. While these industries are separate, they’re related in terms of impact. Food may be the foundation of our subsistence, but buyers do rely heavily on the many consumer packaged goods that have become essential in our lives.
And when it comes to career opportunities, the word in both industries is that job options are plentiful. According to CareersinFood.com, 537 food and beverage manufacturing employers and recruiters are currently posting 9,226 job openings. Within the sphere of consumer goods, several job sites, Career Builder among others, also identify significant job availability.
The four professionals profiled here discuss the bright outlook within these two sectors and encourage young professionals to consider a career in these two essential areas. They also tender their best advice for job seekers.
 
Rich’s Rodriguez Sees Big Opportunity in FS/QA
As a leading worldwide supplier to the foodservice, in-store bakery and deli, and retail marketplaces, Rich Products Corporation (Rich’s) is headquartered in Buffalo, NY. A family-owned, global food company, with more than 10,000 employees, Rich Products is regarded throughout the industry for food ingenuity.
As Rich’s director of food safety and quality assurance (FS/QA), international regions - which includes Asia, Brazil, Latin America, Africa, Europe, India and the Middle East - Renita Rodriguez is a valuable employee. During her 10 years with the company, her career has advanced significantly, and in 2015 she assumed her current position.
With a Bachelor of Science in biology and chemistry, Rodriguez came to Rich’s with a vast amount of prior experience.
“My first job after graduating was with an infant formula company. There I learned a lot about various types of laboratory and analytical testing, as well as regulations. By transferring these learnings to larger companies in the food industry, I gained additional experience and expertise before joining Rich Products,” she explains.
Today Rodriguez supports Rich’s international regions from a food safety service and quality perspective.
“With significant growth within the company’s international regions, I’m tasked with providing guidance and support, interacting with employees regarding opportunities and issues, and helping employees align with ‘enterprise foundations,’ which includes company mandates for food safety and quality,” she states.
According to Rodriguez, the realm of FS/QA will continue to grow, making it a terrific career path for those entering the technical sciences arena.
“As knowledge and awareness in this area increases, more professionals will be needed to help identify and mitigate potential risks,” she states, adding there are now many large and small, both international and national, food companies in need of talented and qualified professionals.
The FS/QA director’s advice to college graduates with science degrees is to expand their horizons.
“The range of opportunities in the food industry depends, in large measure, on the company. While companies often target schools known for food science curriculums, the fact is that biology, chemistry and other science majors can certainly do the job,” indicates Rodriguez, who is of the opinion that the food companies can and should do more to tap those talents.
Regarding needed softer skills, Rodriguez emphasizes the ability to listen, form good relationships and work with different cultures. She also points out the importance of mentoring, especially when individuals step into new roles.
“Mentoring helped me in my career, and now I’m pleased to assist others and help them understand and navigate the business landscape,” she says, stressing the significance of continuous learning. “Being a member of various food safety and quality organizations is also a good way to keep on top.”
Rodriguez holds membership in the International Food Safety and Quality Network, a community for peer-to-peer collaboration in food safety management, and the Women’s Foodservice Forum, which provides women within the foodservice industry the chance to develop the leadership skills necessary to advance their careers.
She additionally takes part in Food Safety Tech, a forum for discussions, news, career opportunities, networking, and new product and services announcements that help promote better food safety and quality. Each year she attends the annual Global Food Safety Conference, a function that brings together leading food safety specialists worldwide.
Read over careers.rich.com for Rich’s career opportunities. Connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Tumblr.
 
What Rich’s Makes
Rich Products Corporation manufactures and sells 4,000-plus products in key product categories - including toppings and icings, cakes and desserts, pizza, bakery products, breads and rolls, shrimp and seafood, appetizers and snacks, barbecue, meatballs and pasta, gluten-free, syrups and soaked cakes, and cooking creams - in more than 100 countries across six continents.
Read more at richs.com.
 
Sperling Champions Diversity & Inclusion at Coca-Cola
Throughout his career Tyre Sperling represented clients in the consumer packaged goods industry.
“I found the ability to meet changing demands and tastes of consumers both exciting and challenging,” says Sperling, who, for more than 10 years, has worked in the public relations and communications industries for PR and government agencies, as well as global corporations.
“My Bachelor of Science in public relations from Florida Agriculture and Mechanical University in Tallahassee, as well as my past employment experiences, prepared me for my current position as communications manager, global diversity and inclusion for The Coca-Cola Company.”
Joining Atlanta, GA-headquartered Coca-Cola in 2015, Sperling says he’s “always respected the iconic brand of Coca-Cola, so when the opportunity presented itself to work there, I seized it. My role was newly created, and I consider the fact that I’m the first person to hold this title a privilege - despite the high expectations.”
Quite up to the challenge, Sperling is responsible for building and implementing a global communications strategy that includes a narrative that drives associate advocacy and awareness through the lens of diversity and inclusion.
“Connecting diversity and inclusion communications to the business and relevant touch points to elevate the employee experience is a critical component of my duties,” he explains.
Identifying this as a particularly exciting time to work in the consumer packaged goods/beverage industries, Sperling notes that, like so many consumers, employees at Coca-Cola expect their employer to both practice and demonstrate the importance of diversity and inclusion.
“As the demographics and makeup of the world change, companies must evolve and meet changing demands and tastes,” he states. This concept, he further contends, will continue to be relevant. Companies embracing diversity and inclusion will win in the marketplace and with their employees.
Of the opinion that companies in the consumer packaged goods and beverage industries will benefit from employing minority professionals, Sperling calls attention to the fact that African Americans and Hispanics are the largest consumers of Coca-Cola products in the U.S. and that having a workforce that reflects that consumer demographic is critical to future success. With that in mind, he urges minority professionals who understand these dynamics to actively seek employment opportunities in this arena.
According to Sperling, diversity as it relates to new hires is key to the global workforce.
“Companies that reflect diversity and inclusion create an environment where differences are valued and perspectives are embraced,” he maintains, emphasizing that while diversity is important, so is inclusion - along with maintaining an employee base that underscores the importance of such attributes as flexibility, leadership, adherence to teamwork and adaptability.
Sperling enjoys the people with whom he works. “I work with some of the smartest strategic minds in the U.S. and globally. Each day I see evidence that when we work together we’re much stronger. Being able to impact the employee experience in the workplace motivates and encourages me,” he remarks.
In addition to his work at Coca-Cola, Sperling is active in the community. He serves as a board member of Go Eat Give, an Atlanta-based non-profit that promotes cross-cultural connection, and the Leadership Council for Year Up Atlanta, a one-year training program for low-income young adults that combines hands-on skills development with eligibility for college credit/corporate internship.
Check coca-colacompany.com/careers for Coca-Cola careers. Connect on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.
 
What Coca-Cola Makes
The Coca-Cola Company makes more than 500 sparkling and still brands and more than 3,800 beverage choices, including Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Coca-Cola Zero, Fanta, Sprite, Dasani, vitaminwater, Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply, Del Valle, Georgia and Gold Peak.
Cull more at coca-cola.com.
 
Smith Leads the Huggies Rewards Program for Kimberly-Clark
With a bachelor’s degree in communications and global media from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis, MO, Allison E. Smith began her career in account management at a specialty healthcare marketing agency.
“While there I unearthed my passion and skill for building relationships through engagement, which served as the foundation for my transition into brand management,” she describes.
Now in her third year working at Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Smith began on the Kleenex brand, delivering growth via its cold and flu and holiday commercial programs and digital initiatives before moving to the Huggies brand. Today she’s the brand manager, Huggies Rewards, customer relations management (CRM) and mobile innovation for Dallas, TX-based Kimberly-Clark.
“While I initially found working in healthcare marketing rewarding, I soon realized I aspired to managing a holistic business,” reports Smith who also sought ownership for turning strategy into business results, while also working on meaningful products.
Knowing such a career move necessitated furthering her education, she pursued an advanced degree. Now an MBA graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, Smith remarks, “I’m proud to work for a company that credits itself on making essential products that better the lives of consumers, and one that has the right cultural fit for my personal values.”
Responsible for three main growth pillars of the baby care business, Smith leads the company’s loyalty strategy across diapers and wipes via the Huggies Rewards program. She additionally drives the sector’s overall CRM approach, which includes developing and leading the brand’s mobile innovation strategy and pipeline.
Noting that the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry is rapidly changing, Smith stresses that brands must now engage with consumers on their terms and within their preferred channels.
“Improving agile capabilities to meet evolving consumer needs is essential,” she states. “Brands can no longer solely rely on ‘traditional’ marketing in the current environment where consumers are mobile-first and information-seeking.”
Smith further reports that today’s multicultural consumers drive the current landscape with buying power greater than ever before.
“It’s crucial that organizations employ talent that’s reflective of their consumer base,” she states. “Minority professionals bring diverse perspectives and experiences to the industry and respective brands, often leading to breakthrough strategies and results.”
Marketers, too, she asserts, can no longer rely on tried-and-true tactics, but rather must draw insights from a multitude of data sources in non-traditional ways.
In her role helping to lead this new business model, Smith and her team essentially work as a start-up within the walls of an established corporation. “This allows us to flourish as corporate entrepreneurs while providing thought leadership on marketing approaches for the future,” she remarks.
Her advice to others interested in a similar career is to continue building your skill sets, differentiate yourself by bringing unique values to your organization and take advantage of all available resources.
Chair of Kimberly-Clark’s African American Employee Network, she additionally mentors incoming diverse employees and works closely with the company’s diversity and inclusion team.
 
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