Janice Johnson is a technical services advisor at Cargill and the Zambia volunteer portfolio lead for PFS. As a portfolio lead, Janice is responsible for reviewing all Zambia project charters for accuracy and feasibility before they become approved projects.
PFS: Please tell us a little about your background.
JJ: I have been working in the food industry for over 20 years in both consumer product goods and ingredient supply segments. I have a passion for science and nutrition, which drives me to study ways to provide healthy food options for the general population.
PFS: Why did you decide to get involved with Partners in Food Solutions?
JJ: I am fortunate enough to be working for a company that is a firm believer in supporting communities through education, making a positive environmental impact, putting people first in terms of health, safety and personal development, and making food accessible, nutritious, and safe for the world. Upon learning about PFS, it was easy to see that we shared a lot of the same values about lifting communities so that everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential. After speaking with others about their positive experiences volunteering with PFS, it became an easy decision for me to become a volunteer.
PFS: What do you like most about being a portfolio lead for Zambia?
JJ: As the portfolio lead, I get visibility into all of the projects which allows me to learn more about others’ experiences and pick up tips on how to create meaningful solutions. I can also leverage these learnings with other clients to help expedite the decision process for other projects. I learn a lot from the challenges that the clients bring forward and I enjoy being able to share my technical knowledge and perspectives to help ensure they are successful.
PFS: What skills are you developing as a portfolio lead and how do you use those skills in your day job?
JJ: Considering some of the language barriers, time zone differences, and individual perspectives, I have learned to focus on my listening and verbal communication skills to make sure I am understanding others and they understand me. Having a clear grasp of the client’s needs is critical for making sure that I am a worthwhile contributor to their needs. Additionally, working with clients has sharpened my problem-solving skills, especially considering the limited resources available and the creativity required for robust solutions.
PFS: What is one thing you’ve learned after working as a portfolio lead?
JJ: Things that I take for granted are extremely important for PFS clients, such as, the impact of a drought or a flood on the ability to access electricity to run a business, protecting your business from crime, and the ability to get access to equipment and ingredients in a timely manner. Seeing these African businesses and entrepreneurs thrive so well with limited resources shows me that strong commitment, optimism, and persistence can lead to great success.