This Women’s History Month, ICL is making note of the many high-achieving women whose talents are irreplaceable to the team. Though there are many notable women in leadership positions within ICL, Nancy Stachiw brings a unique blend of realism and positivity to her work while she builds an impressive legacy and brings other employees along with her.
Nancy is the Research and Development Director of Food Specialties North America, based in St. Louis. She is a leader in food technology and supports plant-based protein manufacturing. Under her leadership, is innovation in meatless protein alternatives.
Throughout her remarkable 34-year career at ICL and predecessor companies, she has both benefited from inspirational female mentors and become an inspirational female mentor. She has focused on motivating others and using optimism to develop a learning environment where others are encouraged through her motto, “let’s find a way.”
Can you tell us about a woman who has inspired you in your work, and how they have influenced your approach to researching food specialties and plant-based flavor applications?
My mother was a strong inspiration for me. She was a Dietitian who gave up her career to raise her family but never tempered her love of learning. She continued her education throughout her life – even spending a semester abroad in Italy in her 70s. Just as she did, I try to learn something new every day.
As a woman food specialties researcher, how do you see your role in advancing gender equality in the food industry?
It is important for me personally to advocate for women in industry. I try to be a role model and ensure recognition and equality wherever I can. When I first started working, it was not unusual to be the only woman in the room. I could not be happier to see how this has evolved and changed over time where women are very well represented in food specialties and technology.
In your opinion, what are some unique challenges that women face in the food industry, and how can these be overcome?
Not just in the food industry, women face unique challenges as they work to balance careers and families. Early in my career, I traveled a lot – and with young children, it was very difficult. As a manager, I try to help women find balance and be flexible on schedules. I see a lot more acceptance within industry now to accommodate families and promote balance. I am proud that ICL has been making positive changes and leading the way in this area.
How do you believe food specialties research can contribute to creating a more inclusive and equitable food industry?
Our goal is to contribute to a more sustainable and healthful food industry with our functional food ingredients. By having a diverse and inclusive team we are better able to understand global needs and customer requirements.
What advice would you give to young women who are interested in pursuing a career in food specialties research – like meatless plant-based protein – or the food industry more broadly?
The food industry is amazing – dynamic and ever-changing. There are so many opportunities. I promise you will never be bored and will have the best career imaginable. You can thank me later!
Are there any current or upcoming food specialties or meatless protein alternatives research projects that you’re particularly excited about, and how do you think they will contribute to the larger conversation around women in the food industry?
ICL has developed innovative technology in plant-based protein applications. We have several alternative protein technology systems that deliver “meatless” vegan foods that mimic the look, texture, and flavor of traditional meat products. Our trade name for our plant-based products is ROVITARIS®.
In honor of International Women’s Day, are there any women-owned or operated food businesses that you would like to highlight or recommend to our audience?
I try to support women-owned businesses wherever I can. Purely Elizabeth® founded by Elizabeth Stein has absolutely the best granola!
Lastly, what message would you like to share with our audiences?
Happy Women’s Day 2023. Believe in yourself and anything is possible!
ICL is proud to support women in science and plant-based protein manufacturing. Diversity and inclusion are key focuses, including intentional efforts to ensure all employees are empowered and can bring their best, most authentic selves to work. Through intentional focus, ICL is committed to bringing the best talent in the science, engineering, and agriculture fields together to collaborate on the biggest challenges the world is facing.
This collaboration brings about innovation like what Nancy and her team are focused on in meatless plant-based protein and plant-based flavor applications. Through leadership and mentorship like that of Nancy Stachiew, ICL believes anything is possible.