Jo Madden

Jo Madden

New Product Development Technologist, Simply Squeezed

In a nutshell: Developing new drinks; testing products for quality; ensuring we meet all health and labelling regulations; and working with the Marketing team on new concepts.

Why? "It is ever changing – no day is the same, and there is always something interesting coming up. Challenges present themselves daily, which keeps me on my toes."

Pathway: Taradale High School, final year subjects: Calculus, Chemistry, English, History, Physics
Massey University - Palmerston North: Bachelor of Technology (Honours), specialising in Food Technology

Earning: $45,000+ starting salary

My degree is very science based – a lot of engineering, physics, chemistry and microbiology. It provided an excellent education in problem-solving, giving me the skills to look at problems differently and come up with solutions.

We had to find holiday jobs (that was a challenge!) in the food industry and complete a project on the company. I picked apples the first summer, so completed a project based on growing, harvesting and exporting apples.

Every day I check the juices that were manufactured overnight, to ensure they meet the quality standard to be bottled. I meet with the Marketing and Production teams about various projects on the go, then I'm in the lab working on new product development.

A drink to reduce the effects of jet lag and prevent deep vein thrombosis on long-haul flights was an interesting project I developed in a previous role. The ingredients tasted bad but it was being sold as a water so we couldn't add much sweetness. There were a lot of challenges in achieving a desirable flavour and stable shelf life, but it's now available in airports.

I've travelled for work within New Zealand and had two trips to Australia. Of my graduating class, many have worked all over the world – it's a degree that is quite transferable. I took a two-year break from food technology and worked as a nanny in London, which I used as a base to do as much travelling as possible.

You need to have patience to get through the scientific part of the degree, and then be able to apply it in a dynamic way.

The food industry is really fast moving so you have to be able to think quickly. At the same time, you have to follow processes and make sure all the boxes are ticked. You need to be creative, and also a people person as you deal with a wide range of people.

There are a lot of different fields to choose within the industry, so really there is something for everybody. Money isn't everything – variety and opportunity are also important. I've taken maternity leave twice and come back to the industry.

Posted January 2015

Follow this pathway:

Degree in Food Science or Technology

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Futureintech is an initiative of Engineering New Zealand, funded by Callaghan Innovation