Kraft Foods: Careers case study

Sarah Woodhams, Scientist: "My passion is science and food - so this is the perfect job for me!"

Qualification: MChem Chemistry - University of Bath

Q: What does a food scientist do?

A: I work as a scientist in the roast coffee department at Kraft Foods' Banbury based Centre of Excellence in Coffee. I am involved in the product development and product quality of the roast coffee that you find on your supermarket shelves.

My work is never the same, one day I could be in the laboratory focusing on developing a new range of coffee, the next I'm coffee tasting to see if the product being developed tastes as good as we want it to. I also help organise consumer testing of our coffees, to ensure that our customers are happy with what we produce.

Q: How did you end up in this job?

A: Coming from a chemistry background I always had a keen interest in science. During university I was lucky enough to get a placement at Kraft Foods, where I worked in the analytical department which looked at the different techniques to measure compounds in coffee. I really enjoyed it and after completing my studies I was offered a permanent position at Kraft Foods.

Q: What is the best thing about your job?

A: All the different challenges it presents. It's so varied and interesting that you can't get bored.

One of the best things is the opportunity to work in different countries. I travel to Sweden on a regular basis and have also visited cities such as Kiev and Bucharest. Getting the opportunity to work with coffee growers from different cultures is great. They are the technical experts and their knowledge is the basis for business decisions we make on the coffee we produce.

I also work with so many different departments, from packaging to marketing, and it's also enjoyable to meet our consumers. My passion is science and food – so this is the perfect job for me!

Q: What particular skills are needed to work in the food industry?

A: You must have a willingness to learn new things and enjoy problem solving. It's also vital that you have good communication skills as you have to liaise not only with your fellow work mates but also people from different nationalities and cultures and also consumers. I think you also need to have a keen interest in food.

Q: Where do you see yourself in five years time?

A: I really do enjoy my current job but in the future I would like a similar role but with more responsibilities. I'd also like to get the chance to work on other food products such as cheese and confectionery and wouldn't mind working abroad.

Q: What food could you not do without?

A: A bacon sandwich.

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Last reviewed: 15 Mar 2011