Lana  Philcox

Lana Philcox

Product Development Technologist, Kohu Road Ice Cream

In a nutshell: I create delicious new ice cream and sorbet products to surprise and delight our consumers. I also improve existing products, prepare product specifications and nutritional labels, and help with any customer complaint investigations.

Why? I LOVE my job as it feels amazing to see your creation on the supermarket shelf and get great feedback from the consumers.

Pathway: High school in Russia, final year subjects: Chemistry, English, Physics, Sciences
University in Russia: Bachelor of Laws (Honours)
AUT - Auckland University of Technology: Bachelor of Applied Science, majoring in Food Science

Earning: $42-45,000 starting salary; $45-65,000 with 3-5 years' experience

My parents advised me to study law but unfortunately I didn't enjoy it when I actually started working full-time as a lawyer's assistant. Every day was quite similar with tons of paperwork.

I always felt passionate about nutrition and food science. So when I moved to New Zealand I went to AUT and studied Food Science. Having a strong background in science at school made my first year much easier.

My day usually starts with tasting ice cream from the latest trials. Then I work with colleagues to make adjustments if needed. As well as running trials in the kitchen, I also go out to meet suppliers to discuss new ingredients. Back in the office I prepare product specifications, including the nutritional information for the packaging.

My job involves applying creative thinking skills to solve technical problems and drive innovation. I am never bored as every day is different.

It is vital to understand what the consumer needs in order to create a successful product, so I work very closely with the sales team. Having a job in product development is like being an entrepreneur who works within a company.

Dairy-free ice cream made using coconut cream was one of my recent creations. The 5L tubs were so popular with cafes and restaurants that we decided to produce it in smaller 1L tubs to sell in supermarkets.

We make special flavours such as Strawberries & Chocolate for Valentine's Day and Speckled Egg for Easter. Our summer flavours this year were Pineapple Sorbet and White Chocolate & Raspberries, and the new winter flavours are under development at the moment – so stay tuned!

All Kohu Road products are natural without 'nasties' such as artificial colours, emulsifiers, preservatives and gums.

You need to have critical thinking skills and attention to detail as well as creativity. Strong organisational, problem-solving and communication skills are quite helpful as usually you work in a team.

The career growth opportunities are very positive as there's a shortage of people with skills in food product development.

Posted March 2015

Follow this pathway:

Degree in Food Science or Technology

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