“A Chat with…Rachel Cheatham, Nutrition Division”

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Name: Rachel Cheatham

Job title: Founder & CEO

Company: Foodscape Group, LLC

Highest Level of Education/Degree: PhD Nutritional Biochemistry

What does your schedule look like today?

• Cover the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee meeting and report out on my blog – www.foodscapefinds.com
• Download and review background research for an upcoming presentation I’m giving at the Healthy Beverage Expo on the neurobiology and marketing of mood beverages
• Figure out who I want to interview for an upcoming article I am writing on the rise of plant-based proteins in product formulation
• Submit a proposal to speak at Roam Mobile Food Conference 2014
• Return calls/emails with clients and potential new clients
• Update my to-do list to reflect all the items that don’t get done today!

How did you go about finding your current job?

After working as a Director at the International Food Information Council and then as a Senior Vice President, Director of Nutrition Science Communications at Weber Shandwick, I decided to take the leap and start my own consultancy. The entrepreneur in me could not be quieted down any longer.

Who do you think is the most influential person in your field?

I have no idea. Honestly, I look to influencers in other fields besides my own. For example, I follow the personal tech community closely and even attended my first hackathon last year called the Future of Food Hackathon. Shockingly, my team took second place out of more than 40 teams. We google chat every week, and are continuing to develop a mobile site and app that will link food truckers with eaters and provide analytics for the owners to improve business margins.

When are you most inspired?

After my morning daily yoga practice.

If you could know one thing now, that you didn’t know then, what would it be?

Nothing is linear. Life and people are intimately interconnected in ways you can’t see or predict today. Trust your instincts and go with what interests you…the rest will fall into place.

Why should I join the Nutrition Division (or any other) Division?

The connections you make now will benefit you in ways you can’t see today. Talk with people, be curious and learn from others, always.

The most valuable thing I can do to further my research/career as soon as I finish reading this interview is: Pay attention to what is going on in the broader world out there. Use social media and other tools to be connected with people, places and things. Again, just go to what draws you and then look for how to incorporate that new and different thinking into your daily life and work.

What is your favorite food?

It changes over time. Right now I am really jazzed about these little grain-free nuggets I bake at home which are lightly sweetened and use almond flour and coconut oil along with ground fennel and allspice. Healthy & tasty should not be mutually exclusive.

Rachel is presenting “Sweeteners Rising: Who’s Talking & What’s Next?” at IFT’s Wellness 14 Conference tomorrow. If you’d like to contact Rachel, email her at Rachel@foodscapegroup.com, or follow her on Twitter at @foodscapegroup and @DrCheatham.

Rachel’s Interview with IFTSA President Jon Baugher at the AMFE 2013 describing her professional path and experiences and why you should join the Nutrition Division.

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Science Meets Food

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Rachel, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. I have thought about starting my own consultancy some day. I would be interested to know how you got started and what types of clients you work with. How did you go about switching from guaranteed salary to the unknown world of running your own business? Did you have clients lined up before you left your job? Do you think a PhD necessary for being a consultant? Thanks again for the great interview (and thanks Kara too!!)

    -Tom S.

  2. Hi Tom – Thanks for your thoughtful questions. As to starting my own consultancy, my best advice is don’t rush in too quickly. Take several positions at various companies that are doing the kind of work you see yourself doing one day as a consultant. Then, when you make the leap, you can have confidence in your skills. As an aside, I will say other skill sets are needed to be an entrepreneur too (like tolerance for risk and uncertainty), so you also want to be sure to build a network of supporters/peers during your years of being employed by others. As to the salary piece, I have been told that you shouldn’t expect to match your former salary until possibly year three. This is the trickiest part of all, so build some reserve and be prepared for tighter finances for a period of time. The other challenge is determining how selective (or not) you want to be about the types of clients/projects you take on. For me, I am choosing to be very selective in order to ensure I truly believe in the work I am doing day to day in helping to create a healthier food supply. I have turned down some attractive retainer fees because the brand/product wasn’t congruent with my perspective on healthier foods. It is a personal choice.
    Best of luck on your path forward and perhaps our paths will cross again one day soon!
    -@drcheatham

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