At the recent Junior Science & Humanities Symposium, keynote speaker Heidi Teoh, of General Mills, spoke to high school students about innovation.
With a doctorate in food science, Teoh talked about her background and interests in using technology and creativity to decide “what comes next?” We are busier and more health-conscious. Our food production is impacted globally by climate change. Social media is an accelerator to wanting new things faster. We want “real food in our food.”
For General Mills, that means making changes to such long-term products as Trix, after artificial food and color lost favor with customers. Consumers want highly functional ingredients, with an extended shelf life, with less sugar and salt, no trans fat, gluten-free options, and fewer carbs. It keeps people like Teoh continuously finding alternatives that work. Some goals are easier than others to figure out.
She noted that stamina is a powerful skill. As is waking up every day with a passion to solve problems. “We love challenges,” she said. “There is always more science and engineering that needs to happen. It’s invigorating.”