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Northern Ireland Branch – New Chairman

We are delighted to announce that Dominic Darby has been appointed as the Chairman of IFST’s Northern Ireland Branch. Here he tells us more about his role and plans for the next 12 months.

Congratulations on becoming Chair of the Northern Ireland Branch. Tell us more about what you hope to achieve in the next 12 months.

I hope that in 2017 the Branch continues to build on the fantastic events we’ve held over the past few years. We’ve been really lucky to have so many great committee members who believe passionately in creating value for the wider Northern Ireland membership and this was recognised in no better way than with our Jack Pearce Memorial lecture in February, which honoured Jack’s fantastic contribution over many decades to Northern Ireland and the wider UK food industry. We also want to host other great events that will appeal to the wider membership across the region with topics that are relevant and beneficial to their continued professional development.

Why is it important to host events for students like the Student LaunchPads?

We’re in a lucky position in Northern Ireland to have three universities offering food science degrees and as a country we produce some fantastic talent. The branch recognised this through our student competition in May, which is entering its 5th year, and through our plans to host our third Student Launchpad in November. These events allow for great networking and mentoring opportunities for students from the more experienced members of the region. It also gives employers direct insight into the most talent, with the winners and runners up of the student competition being snapped up by local companies.

You were recently elected a Fellow of the Institute. Why is it so important to be a member of a professional body like IFST?

Being a Fellow is a fantastic honour, which I’m very proud to have been given last year. It’s been my belief over the 15 years that I’ve been working in the food industry that you get back what you put in and that actively managing your own career is key to progression. Having professional accreditation is recognition of the hard work, training and continual development that food scientists undergo to remain professional and science led in their roles within the Industry.

What do you most enjoy about your current role?

If you mean job role…At the moment I’m working for myself as a consultant in food science and innovation, a role that gives me great freedom and diversity to work with different companies and on many different projects. One such project is work that I’m doing for Marks and Spencer to create a step change in the quality of their retail sushi range through innovation in equipment, raw material sourcing and manufacturing standards. This included a sourcing trip to Japan last summer, outlining the lengths to which companies, such as M&S, will go to ensure authenticity and excellence.

If you mean chairman role…There have been many fantastic Chairs of the Northern Ireland branch, many of whom went on to be President of IFST so I’m very conscious that I have big shoes to fill. What I enjoy the most is that the committee is like one big family and I’ve always had their help, support and guidance, which is part of the reason I was happy to take on the role of Chairman. We’ve recently had some new members join, including some younger people at the start of their careers, which I hope will continue to build on the dynamic and forward looking branch objectives.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in their career?

The advice that I give to students at the mentoring sessions I host at the Student Launchpad is that experience is everything. Most of them will leave university with an excellent level of knowledge but the thing that will separate them from others will be their experience. Whether it’s voluntary or paid work in or out of the food industry, these roles give them the opportunity to develop important employability skills, such as effective communication, leadership and resilience. All the things employers want in future talent. I also tell them that having a genuine love and passion for food and the industry in which they will spend the next 30 work years is important.

Tell us something that few people know

Normally I’m running my own business and spending time with my wife and four fantastic children, but when I have the time, I love to cook and experiment with food. Not many people know but I’ve been known to cure and smoke some great smoked salmon and in 2017 I want to learn some new techniques, such as pickling and fermenting.

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