Johnson Kiragu, regional program director - East Africa at Partners in Food Solutions and Sarah Moberg, director of ITQ integrated operations at General Mills, joined the PFS mentoring program in November 2019 with hopes of developing a deeper global understanding, learning some new skills and fostering a new connection. What they didn’t anticipate was having to navigate a pandemic that spanned continents and impacted them both professionally and personally.
Luckily, Johnson and Sarah were able to use each other as a resource and sounding board in addressing COVID-19 related challenges they’ve encountered. “Earlier this year when COVID 19 first hit Kenya, I got a lot of helpful information and tools from Sarah that I shared with our clients to help them improve their safety and the safety of their staff,” said Johnson “Additionally, Sarah has helped me develop some best practices in leadership so I can become better at what I do, and be a greater resource for my clients during these unprecedented times.” Similarly, Sarah said that through her conversations with Johnson she has been able to expand her perspective. “I love that mentorship is a two-way relationship,” she said. “Learning flows in both directions and I’ve gained a trusted advisor in Johnson. That relationship will remain past the end of the mentorship program.”
Want to join the PFS mentorship program? We're looking for interested canidates who would like to mentor a PFS stakeholder and help guide them, while building skills in virtual coaching, entrepreneurial mindset, and cross-cultural competencies. Spend ~1-3 hours per month for one year serving as a PFS mentor. Contact Clare@partnersinfoodsolutions.com for more information.
We are proud to announce this year's winners of the second annual PFS Founders Service Awards. These two awards, named after PFS founders, honor our volunteers who most display enthusiasm, drive for results, creative problem solving, tenacity and grit, wisdom, and humility. Please join us in congratulating:
John Mendesh Award
Mike Marshak, Business Technical Manager with Medallion Labs & General Mills
"Mike has been a tireless volunteer for PFS from its inception. His knowledge of food quality and safety and lab practices has helped PFS clients achieve numerous project milestones and completions. His willingness to help us out at any time, any day has made him an invaluable resource to PFS and our clients."
Jordana Swank, Director of Technology Development and Futures with The Hershey Company
"Jordana has been an amazing client lead. I admire how well she manages three different project teams. She is very committed to the projects and displays so much enthusiasm and clear thinking."
"Jordana has eagerly shared her technical and project management skills with several PFS clients over the years; she is always eager to join another project or role when the previous one wraps up."
Peter Erickson Award
Curtis Rainey, Assistant Quality Manager with Ardent Mills
"Curtis epitomizes dedication. He is currently supporting the Laboratory Analysis Project with Premium Foods in Ghana. He has displayed tenacity and humility to a large extent. He is punctual, responsive, and constantly joins project meetings; sometimes being the only volunteer on such calls. Curtis goes above and beyond to provide useful materials to the client."
Caio Malufe, Senior Manager in Corporate Development with Cargill
"In less than one year, Caio has volunteered to support three projects across two clients and is also a mentor to a TechnoServe employee in the early phase of their career. His calm demeanor and kindness are an ever-present complement to his business knowledge, and he makes himself available to talk with other volunteers outside of regularly scheduled team calls."
"Caio presents his expertise to clients and volunteer teams as his “experience” and what he has “seen” in the past, conveying his humility and approachability, and helping clients and teams feel comfortable working with him."
With a lifelong passion for international nutrition and more than two decades of experience in the food technology space, Erika joins the PFS leadership team as the Senior Director of Client and Technical Services. “I am extremely motivated to be a part of an organization that is directly focused on the goal of strengthening food security, improving nutrition, and increasing economic development in Africa by leveraging food science, and other disciplines, to better the food value chain,” she said. However, this is not Erika’s first time being involved with our organization. She first joined PFS as one of our earliest volunteers in 2009. Back then, she led various projects for clients in Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire so she already knows a lot about how PFS works.
In her most recent role at General Mills, Erika led an international team as the Technology and Process Applications Director for the Global Dairy Business Unit in Vienne, France. She was responsible for technical strategy development and execution for General Mills’ global yogurt and ice cream brands. Her vast technical experience in the food industry makes her a valuable addition to our team and resource for our clients.
When Erika is not learning about the latest food technology trends, you can find her biking, hiking, golfing, and, most of all, traveling internationally with her husband, Mike. Some of her favorite travel experiences include bungee jumping in New Zealand, making spring rolls in Vietnam and hut-to-hut hiking in the Italian Dolomites.
MINNEAPOLIS (July 2020) – Partners in Food Solutions, a consortium of world-class food industry companies – General Mills, Cargill, Bühler, DSM, The Hershey Company and Ardent Mills – working together to address food security, nutrition and economic development across Africa has announced that The J. M. Smucker Company has become the organization’s newest corporate partner. For over a decade, Partners in Food Solutions has connected highly skilled volunteers from its corporate partners with entrepreneurial food companies in Africa to help strengthen their businesses. Volunteers have contributed more than 100,000 pro-bono consulting hours. With the addition of Smucker, Partners in Food Solutions partner companies represent over 800 years of food industry knowledge and experience.
As the population of Africa is expected to double by 2050, ensuring communities have access to an adequate supply of safe, nutritious and affordable food is more important than ever. Through a remote, virtual consulting model, pioneered by Partners in Food Solutions and recognized by political and development leaders around the world, volunteers from Smucker will have the opportunity to support African food businesses by sharing their technical and business expertise.
The partnership is the latest example of how the Company brings its commitment to thrive together with all of those impacted by its business to life.
“As a food Company, we are passionate about ensuring global food security and are thrilled to support Partners in Food Solutions and its groundbreaking efforts to aid African communities in this area,” said Tamara Fynan, Executive Director, Community Engagement and Philanthropy, The J. M. Smucker Company. “The unique opportunity to engage our employees and leverage their technical and business expertise to make a meaningful impact is especially exciting. Our employees share in our passion to make a positive difference in the world and will be eager to lend their support to this great cause.”
The timing of this new partnership could not be more appropriate. “The J.M. Smucker Company is a trusted food producer with a talented workforce who are committed to doing good in the world. They bring new expertise and capacity that will help us go even further in supporting a critical link in the African food value chain - local processors - to improve food security across the continent,” said Partners in Food Solutions CEO Jeff Dykstra. “COVID-19 has the potential to have a long-term impact on Africa's food system in ways that are unimaginable. Our volunteers are helping our clients address current challenges so they can become stronger and more resilient. The J.M. Smucker Company has a long history of creating successful brands and being able to utilize their expertise and experience will be invaluable for many of our clients right now.”
Partners in Food Solutions has a network of more than 1,200 expert volunteers who have shared their technical and business knowledge with over 1,500 clients. With the addition of Smucker, Partners in Food Solutions will be able to tap into its 7,000+ employees and provide even greater support to its African clients.
About Partners in Food Solutions Partners in Food Solutions, an independent nonprofit organization, works to increase the growth and competitiveness of food companies in Africa and beyond. Our goal is to improve access to safe, nutritious, affordable food and promote sustainable economic development across food value chains. We do this by inspiring business leaders and linking highly skilled corporate volunteers from our consortium of leading companies with promising entrepreneurs and other influencers of the food ecosystem. To learn more about Partners in Food Solutions, please visit partnersinfoodsolutions.com.
About The J. M. Smucker Company Inspired by more than 120 years of business success and five generations of family leadership, The J. M. Smucker Company makes food that people and pets love. The Company's portfolio of 40+ brands, which are found in 90 percent of U.S. homes and countless restaurants, include iconic products consumers have always loved such as Folgers®, Jif® and Milk-Bone® plus new favorites like Café Bustelo®, Smucker's® Uncrustables® and Rachael Ray® Nutrish®. Over the past two decades, the Company has grown rapidly by thoughtfully acquiring leading and emerging brands, while ensuring the business has a positive impact on its 7,000+ employees, the communities it is a part of and the planet. For more information about The J. M. Smucker Company, visit jmsmucker.com.
Michael is a packaging and bulk flour production manager at Ardent Mills and is currently volunteering with PFS on a porridge packaging project for a client in Ethiopia.
PFS: Tell me about yourself.
MJ: I have been in the flour milling business my whole career, about 33 years!
PFS: Why did you initially join PFS?
MJ: I started my involvement with PFS after getting a challenge from senior leaders and my mentor, Randall Garvert. One of the values of Ardent Mills is serving, and by helping across our company, in the community, and with PFS, I get to live out Ardent Mills’ values.
PFS: What skills are you using when volunteering with PFS?
MJ: The skills that are used in these projects are numerous. I get to practice listening, challenge my perceptions and work with others to collaborate on developing solutions. I’ve learned that I do not need to know everything about a process to be an effective leader of the solution.
PFS: What challenges have you experienced as a volunteer?
MJ: Challenges have included understanding language accents from different areas of the world, working across different time zones, faulty internet connections from all participants and not being able to easily ship packages or visit sites. All of these were overcome by pure diligence by all team participants to succeed.
PFS: You’ve volunteered on three projects. What motivates you to continue volunteering?
MJ: There is a feeling of gratitude, accomplishment, and the challenge of growing my leadership and collaboration skills.