High Five For Food Safety: Susan Blount Credits The Mars GFSC for a Truly Global Approach Raising the Bar for Food Safety
Susan Blount, Global Director of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs (SRA), used her experience as the former Director of Waltham Science Petcare Institute to help design the blueprint for the Mars GFSC. Here, Susan shares her early memories of setting up the center and credits the blending of different cultures and a top team of talented Associates at the Mars GFSC for raising the bar for food safety.
As we reach the five-year anniversary of the Mars Global Food Safety Center (GFSC), what inspires you most about working in Research and Development (R&D) and food safety at Mars?
One of my greatest achievements in food safety is helping to create the vision for the Mars GFSC. From the early days of working with the architects and bringing the center to life, to recruiting talented Associates and watching on proudly as the center has grown from strength to strength, I’m very proud to be part of the team that made that possible.
There was a lot of leadership from the business involved in the creation of the Mars GFSC – from the Board, Senior R&D Leaders, and Associates from around the world, but if I had to choose one truly inspirational person, it would be Dave Crean, our outgoing Vice President of Corporate R&D and Chief Science Officer. The Mars GFSC was fundamentally his vision. There are very few people in the world that have a great idea, and then the energy, determination and passion to make it happen. Dave Crean is that person.
I’m inspired to work for a company that has a strong sense of purpose and invests in innovative ideas such as the Mars GFSC. Mars facilitates a culture that encourages people to think beyond today and really consider tomorrow. There is an ongoing commitment to do business in a way that positively contributes back to the people, environment and ecosystems in which we operate. This makes a career at Mars and Mars R&D a truly rewarding experience.
Please share a special anecdote or a particularly special memory from your time working with the Mars GFSC?
I was brought in to help set up the Mars GFSC because of my experience working as Director of the Waltham Science Petcare Institute. We had a proven track record of delivering high-quality scientific research and knowledge sharing, and that model became a blueprint for the Mars GFSC.
In those days, I was privileged to visit China a lot. I loved the culture, the warmth and the generosity of the people and the sheer size and scale of the country. I feel proud that from a small kernel of an idea, the Mars GFSC has grown to not only address food safety challenges in a vast country like China, but the rest of the world. The scientific breakthroughs coming out of the center today are not only helping Mars but protecting the global food supply chain and saving the lives of millions of people in vulnerable countries around the world.
What would you say is the greatest achievement of the Mars GFSC?
The recruitment of talent. When we first opened the center, we didn’t know whether people would be attracted given it was a totally new mission, but it was quite the reverse. We were fortunate to employ some incredibly talented scientists, many of whom had worked in the US, Europe and China, so they had tremendous multicultural experience, phenomenal credentials and great networks that we could tap into.
It’s a credit to everyone who worked at the Mars GFSC in those early days, that the team bonded like a family. When a whole unit is new, it's very hard to bring the Mars culture to life because no one has ever worked at Mars! Yet at the Mars GFSC, the Chinese culture has blended seamlessly with our own, creating a truly world class food safety center of scientific excellence.
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