Name: Dr Ryan Williams
Job Title: Product scientist for MOMA.
My position in a nutshell… I am in charge of creating new oat milks, so am involved in the recipe development process and making the oat milk, but I also get involved in branding, marketing and packaging decisions.
How I got the job… I did a master’s degree in chemistry but didn’t really know what I wanted to do as a career, so I decided to do a PhD in organic chemistry and spent a lot of time at university, developing as a scientist. Over time my interests changed slightly, and I began to have more of an interest in food, but I still wanted to use my scientific and technical background to help innovate the food industry. When this opportunity came up at MOMA, I thought it would be a good way to use my intricate knowledge of the biological and chemical side of food to create fantastic products that I believed in and that aligned with my values.
My typical day… Varies quite a bit. Some days I will be out meeting partners or other people involved in my project, which will be all about trying to look at new technologies or processes that can get the most out of oats and create the best oat milk. Other days I will be cooking up new recipes in the kitchen and testing them in different hot drinks or foaming them up. Other days I will be looking at other aspects such as the market data around the products we are looking in to and having discussions with retailers to find opportunities to sell our oat milk.
My most memorable moment… When I first saw one of our oat milks on the shelf in my local supermarket. It was really exciting to see the product I’d helped to produce on the shelf, ready for people to buy.
The worst part of my job… Doing quality control checks. Every time we have new products or a new batch of oat milks, I have to ensure that the quality stays consistently high.
The best part of my job… Doing something that I feel is important and I really enjoy. I love food, but I am particularly interested in sustainability, environmentally conscious food and ethical food and I think oat milk sits really well in that category. I am proud to be part of the team that is driving this forward and getting these new products on to supermarket shelves, where people can enjoy them.
Advice for considering a career as a product scientist… You need to have a really thorough technical and scientific understanding of what you are doing. It’s important to keep educating yourself and learning a lot about the topic that you are interested in. Go for something you think has potential, that you may be able to branch out from in the future, but ultimately find something you enjoy and are passionate about, that’s the key.
What can I do right now to learn more about food innovation?If you want to know more about food innovation, particularly in plant-based milk, there are so many ways you can learn from simple online searches. You can learn through articles or blogs or research papers, documentaries or YouTube videos. Why not try making your own oat milk? There are also plenty of recipes online – you’ll be able to make your own. Get into the kitchen and have fun experimenting.