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Transferable skills

Christina DietzWhen I chose subjects for my A-levels, I was 100% sure that I wanted to become an architect. Six months later, during an internship for the upper secondary school, I discovered this was definitely not what I wanted and that I better look for another career path. I spent my childhood on my parents’ and grandparents’ farms. My grandparents had a guest house and I had been involved in farming and cooking even before I went to secondary school. Because of my love for food, cooking and developing new recipes, I decided to start an apprenticeship as a chef. It was not easy but definitely one of the most valuable experiences due to the knowledge that I gained on raw materials, food preparation and processing methods. Additionally, I learnt a lot in terms of organisation and time management. I would recommend those who are not sure what to do after A-levels to get some hands-on experience via internships or placements.

Another factor that inspired me to choose a career in the food industry was a television report on the development and application of flavouring preparations in foods and beverages at Symrise, one of the global players in the flavour industry, headquartered close to my hometown in Germany. I was fascinated by the work of the flavourists and the product development team. A few years later, I had the opportunity to work at Symrise, conducting my Bachelor´s thesis project in one of their application technology and sensory departments. The project focused on the development of meat-reduced sausages and included the investigation of different meat and fat replacements and meat flavour preparations. As part of an international team consisting of highly experienced chefs, food technologists and flavourists, I developed different meat products, soups and sauces for various flavour applications.

After completing my Bachelor´s studies in Food Management at the University of Applied Sciences Weihenstephan-Triesdorf, I moved to the Netherlands for a Master´s programme in Food Technology at Wageningen University focusing on product design. Working or studying in a different country broadened my horizons! It provides the opportunity to learn a new language and expand your international professional network.

Being engaged in professional associations or societies has enabled me to be involved in the organisation of events and conferences, to build professional platforms for networking and to engage with my peers all over Europe.

I then moved back to Germany to work in the product development department of a food supplier. In this company, I developed vegan and vegetarian meat substitutes, and flavour and spice mixes. Shortly thereafter, I was hired by a company that produces chocolate and fruit-based fillings, spreads and sauces. Moving to another company enabled me to apply transferrable skills, to broaden my knowledge base, and to see things from another perspective.

In 2017, I moved to the UK to undertake a PhD project in Sensory and Brewing Science at the University of Nottingham. I am delighted to be able to work in a very international, inspiring and supportive environment on a multidisciplinary and application-oriented project. My PhD is funded by Totally Natural Solutions Ltd, a company that produces hop aroma and bittering products for the brewing and beverage industry. The project focuses on the sensory and analytical characterisation of hop oil fractions that have been sustainably extracted using ‘green’ solvents in order to obtain clean-label flavouring preparations. By analysing the sensory and physico-chemical profiles of these hop oil fractions, it is possible to localise volatiles that drive specific aroma and flavour sensations and in addition, sensory interactions that involve taste and mouthfeel characteristics. This research will not only benefit producers in the brewing industry, but also provide the basis for future research projects on the investigation of hop flavour in beer.

Apart from being a student member of the IFST, I am currently involved in the European Sensory Science Society - Student and Early Stage Researcher Group (E3S-SESRG), the Young EFFoST (a sub-group of The European Federation of Food Science and Technology), and the British Society of Flavourists. Being engaged in professional associations or societies has enabled me to be involved in the organisation of events and conferences, to build professional platforms for networking and to engage with my peers all over Europe. But equally important, I have made a lot of new friends.

Christina Dietz

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