We are honored to recognize Liz Schmit for this month’s Females in Food Member Spotlight Award. Her drive, tenacity, and hunger to learn have been pivotal in blazing a career path from regulatory to product development within General Mills. Her authentic leadership, natural charisma, and dedication to helping others succeed continuously inspire others to action. In this short Q&A Liz opens up about her career journey, accomplishments and how she can help other FIF members connect and advance.
Q. Tell us about your current role
A. I’m a Product Development Specialist at 301 Inc., the venture capital arm of General Mills. I work closely with R&D counterparts and/or Founders of the emerging brands that 301 Inc invests in on a wide variety of products. I wear many hats and every day is an adventure!
Q. What accomplishments you are most proud of?
A. Two situations come to mind. The first was when I desired a career change into R&D. I was told that if I wanted to switch from Nutrition Labeling to Product Development, it would be very hard without my Masters in Food Science (I have a BS in Nutrition & Food Science). My recommended options were:
1. Quit General Mills to become a full-time student and try to get rehired at General Mills as a Scientist with a Master’s degree [no promises]!
2. Work full-time in Labeling while going to school online or at UMN.
3. Apply to be a technician in R&D, which I was told I was overqualified for thus making it very difficult to get promoted and move up the ladder.
After a lot of thought, I made the decision to become an R&D technician and transferred into the Snacks Division working on innovation. I did take some courses towards my Masters at UMN, but chose work/life balance instead after a few semesters. I made a vow to myself to not let the title of a technician define me and my capabilities, and with the help of some awesome managers and mentors that didn’t care what my title was, I was able to take on the responsibilities of Product Developer/Scientist without the Master’s degree. I’m so glad I chose to follow my gut and I’m very grateful it worked out this way.
The second moment was when a co-worker from a previous role contacted me about applying for an R&D position in the newly formed, 301 Inc. At this point in my R&D career, I was looking for an innovation role again and to get sought out made me feel so wonderful. 7 years later, I’m still loving my job!
Q. What are your areas of expertise for Females in Food members to connect with you on?
A. My areas of expertise include connecting technical experts and ingredient suppliers to our investment brand partners, culinary/trend and consumer insight focused product development, flavor optimization in snacks and beverages, and product sensory evaluation. My development expertise varies from bench-top to full-scale production.
Q. What do you enjoy doing most in your free time?
A. I love to cook (I cherish being in a 16 person cooking club) and go out to the ever-growing restaurant scene in the Twin Cities for delicious food, cocktails, and wine with my husband and friends. Non-food related past times include quality time with my 8-year-old Vizsla, traveling with family and friends, scuba diving, spin class, and hot yoga to try and offset my love of food. 🙂