INTERVIEW: Senior Technologist Ana Garcia-Marchan
A few weeks ago, MARS INC. contacted me, asking me to interview four of their Women in STEM.* Over the next few weeks, their interviews will be posting one by one.
This interview is with Ana Garcia-Marchan, who works is a Senior Technologist for MARS.
Q : Hello, Ana! First of all, I want to thank you very much for taking time out of your day to answer some of my questions for my readers!
So, for my first question, I want to ask something basic: What exactly is your job in STEM? I was told that you were a Senior Technologist at MARS. What does that entail exactly?
A: Being a Quality & Food Safety (Q&FS) Senior Technologist really means being an advocate for quality of our Mars Food products, including Uncle Ben’s and Seeds of Change. I work with factory managers and maintenance teams to help lead multiple Quality Management Processes, including Mars’ Internal Audit and Q&FS Management Review. Through risk assessment, I help drive improvements in Mars’ current manufacturing processes and systems by collaborating with different departments and implementing creative solutions to issues. For example, if an incident occurs and a product is placed on hold, I will not only investigate the incident but develop corrective actions to ensure that this does not occur again.
I also participate in external audits and inspections from the Mississippi Department of Health.
Q: I was also told that you, as a biochemistry major, believe that STEM plays a huge role in the food industry. Would you elaborate on why you believe that STEM has such a large role in the industry? Sometimes, I believe this aspect of STEM gets overlooked.
A: STEM is really about bringing together the principles of science, technology, engineering, and math to; innovate, work on complex and interesting projects, and achieve a common goal.
Having been a biochemistry major, I see similarities between the food industry and biochemistry because both are complex and diverse. Metabolic pathways (biochemistry) and the food industry have steps that convert substrates/raw ingredients into a finished product. Each step is critical, complex, and is the key to the next step. In biochemistry, specifically in a metabolic pathway, each reaction produces a product, and that product becomes the substrate for the next step. Similar to biochemistry, the food industry takes raw materials and converts them into a finished product with the goal of getting consumed.
I love being able to apply my knowledge of biochemistry to the food industry and being a part of a team that brings products to life.
Q: What would you say the main goal of your STEM field is?
A: The main goal of my STEM field is to apply the concept of biochemistry not just to the processes that occur within living organisms but relate the same processes within day to day activity.
Q: How did you begin to pursue this career? What made you interested in this line of work?
A: Growing up, seeing my mother’s ability to use raw ingredients to create a meal sparked my interest in STEM. Many can cook, but I was so impressed by the science behind the art of cooking and how my mother mastered both. Once I got to school, science courses really gave me that hands-on learning experience and reinforced my educational aspirations within STEM.
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Q: What does a typical day in your job look like? And what’s the most exciting part of your day — or something about your job that you enjoy the most?
A: Freedom- let me explain… My job is not the same every day. Although I have responsibilities and deadlines, I love that each day is different. One day I may be pulling a cross-functional team and brainstorming solutions to a particular problem and another day I may be leading quality and food safety training.
Q: Do you work in a laboratory? Or does your field of STEM require that your work in other places that may not be seen as common places that science is conducted?
A: My field of STEM requires me to work in a manufacturing plant which is not what you would expect. There seems to be a misunderstanding that if you have a STEM degree, specifically a science related degree, that you must work in a laboratory.
Q: If you had some advice for girls or other women looking to pursue your career, what would you say to them?
A: I encourage young women to reach out to resources (teachers, those who work in STEM fields, community groups, friends, family, etc.) to learn more about the endless possibilities within STEM. Don’t be afraid to apply to competitive schools or seek out learning opportunities within STEM wherever you may be. Join a STEM related club or activity and get involved in whatever way you can. The creativity and innovation that stems from STEM-related fields is essential to creating impactful, positive and far-reaching change.
This article was not sponsored.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mariah Loeber is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of FemSTEM.com. She studies English and is a huge fan of all things STEM. Find her on Twitter.