Name: Oscar Rodriguez-Gonzalez
Job title: Company Head
Company: Rodriguez-Gonzalez Services
IFT Division(s) to which you belong: In descending order of activity: Quality Assurance, Nonthermal Processing and Food Engineering. Follower of activities in the Dairy Foods, Fruits & Vegetables, Food Microbiology, Education Extension & Outreach and Marketing & Management Divisions.
Highest Level of Education/Degree: PhD
What does your schedule look like today?
Visited a food manufacturing plant, identified some areas of improvement in a Food Safety Management System, thought about some ideas in Quality Engineering and professional networking, went to the bank, planned the adjustments to a vending business project, reviewed my agenda of food safety audits, reviewed the information of some audit reports, did social media professionally and with friends, prepared this chat.
How did you go about finding your current job?
The consulting and training branches of my business have advanced mostly by referrals, the auditing projects by following the qualification processes of each certification scheme and applying to certification bodies to become a contractor. The automated food vending business has been an adventure that started from scratch and it has made some significant progress. This has led me to know more about the players and products in the retail side of the food & beverages sector.
If you weren’t a Food Scientist, what would you be doing?
Most likely in the military or some type of engineer (environmental).
Who do you think is the most influential person in your field?
Dr. Dennis Heldman. I have known him since I had the opportunity to be a Food Engineering Division Student Representative. I think that he has a very good perspective on the strategic issues in Food & Beverages sector and the ability to engage and promote younger generations in the field.
When are you most inspired?
After swimming (sports) or solving problems, when the adrenaline is high. But maybe it depends on what type of inspiration, because I can get the best case ideas when I am high and the worst case ideas when I am low. Then I just have to do my SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis for the entire situation and plan my actions.
Why should I join the Quality Assurance Division (QAD) or any other IFT Division?
The QAD can be an interesting Division for students that are not too much into Academic degrees and would like to get a feeling of what industry is like. In this Division there are not too many active professors that may be searching for Masters or Doctorate students or will engage in never ending debates on how to improve the profession. Most of the members of the QAD are active Directors, Supervisors or Consultants, and if you get to participate in the social activities and demonstrate your knowledge and leadership skills they can help you to find a job.
Also, this area is where food science is finally applied, because most of the concepts that we learn in fundamental food science classes are used for Food Safety & Quality or New Product Development. And if you did not know…there is an entire pathway of private education for food safety managers and auditors that is separate from Universities, so you can continue advancing professionally while being an industrialist.
The most valuable thing I, as a student, can do to further my research/career as soon as I finish reading this interview is:
Discover your vocation and find a mentor (model). This was probably influenced by my High School education where we had a vocation discernment program to help us find out where do we wanted to be later in life, and my studies in Texas A&M University where there was a network of mentors available to guide you anywhere you wanted to go. Keep in mind that in addition to all your professional achievements there is nothing better than a life well-lived.
What is your favorite food?