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Making an Impact Through Science

Innovation

On the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we take a look at how women in science across ADM play a role advancing innovation, whether they are at the beginning of their careers or in leadership roles. On one end of the spectrum, making the younger generation aware of the exciting and endless possibilities for careers in science is one of the many ways that ADM encourages young women to pursue a scientific path. More recently, ADM Cares and our Flavor Creation team in Singapore teamed up with a local school to introduce 30 female students to the world of flavors, as part of the Inspiring Girls initiative spearheaded by the Singapore Council of Women’s Organizations.

At the other end of the spectrum, women like ADM’s Dr. Alexandra Blanchard, director R&D, Feed Additives in the Animal Nutrition business, and Clara Rodriguez-Olivares, head of alignment and communications, Global Product Development and Application (PD&A) and application labs EMEAI in the Human Nutrition business, have spent their careers making an impact through science. We speak with them about their love of science and what their day-to-day work looks like.

Tell us a bit about your career journey and what drew you to science.

Alexandra: I discovered my passion for science and discovery in university, where I graduated with a degree in plant physiology. This led to a stint in a plant parasitology lab in France, where I fell in love with research, after which I did a PhD in biological sciences. After many years at the National Institute of Agricultural Research in France, investigating the molecular basis of host-parasite interactions in livestock animals, I began a research career in animal nutrition industry four years ago.

Clara: I always loved the natural sciences, biology and the field of nutrition, and I was also very curious to know more about how things work. That’s why I became a food engineer. I have been with ADM for 12 years now, starting out as a technical project manager. Three years ago I took on a role leading the Human Nutrition application labs in the EMEAI region, and I am also a part of the global PD&A team, focusing on alignment and communications to support key global initiatives to help make ADM the go-to partner for our customers.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Alexandra: My days are usually filled with many meetings to keep up with all of the projects my team is working on, and to also develop new collaborations with colleagues across the Animal and Human Nutrition business at ADM. We have extraordinary potential within our company to help shape the future of animal nutrition, which makes my work very exciting! A lot of my day also goes into reading, writing, and reviewing scientific material to promote the work that we do to make ADM the partner of choice in the animal nutrition industry. I really love connecting with people and bringing my skills in science to add value to the industry.

Clara: Every day is different, which is what I like the most about my work! In my role leading application labs in EMEAI, I manage and direct the work of ten application teams across several countries in the region. My focus is on building a successful team and fostering relationships with customers and our sales team. During the day, I usually have 1 to 1 meetings with my direct reports to focus on the big customer projects and key activities. It requires a lot of coordination, effective communication and  focus. I also spend time preparing for meetings and projects. For me, it’s a pleasure to work with such a highly talented, professional and passionate team from around the world. I’m proud to be part of team ADM!

What advice would you give to young women considering a career in science?

Alexandra: Be humble, but dream big! Don’t be afraid of the challenges ahead, work hard, and don’t listen to the people who will tell you that it’s impossible. Just follow your gut feeling. A lot of people told me that my dreams were impossible, but I decided to take a chance and went ahead anyways.  

Clara: First and most important, work in a field that you really like. Work hard and smart in order to achieve your goals, and above all, believe in yourself and celebrate your achievements, big and small, because every step counts. Be positive and flexible, and learn to see challenges as opportunities for growth. You are more powerful than you think!