Julie Simonson
Vice President, Technology Development
Schwan’s Company

“Manufacturing is the foundation of our economy, where creativity and technical knowledge from many individuals transform individual components into value-added products to satisfy consumers’ needs. It is energizing to tackle the variety of challenges, collaborate across many function, and develop others to advance within this evolving world of manufacturing!”

In 2014, Schwan’s Company made a commitment to eliminate all partially hydrogenated oils, certified food dyes, high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavor from their products by 2017. Julie was instrumental in devising and executing this initiative, the most significant technical challenge the company had ever entertained. Through her leadership and planning efforts, Julie set the stage to deliver results while ensuring a seamless transition for consumers. She remained engaged early and often during a time when not all stakeholders believed in the effort. Now Schwan’s Company is stronger than ever and well positioned to grow thanks to Julie and her ability to take calculated risks and deliver results.

Since moving into her current role as the leader of the Schwan’s Product Innovation & Development department’s Technology Development team, Julie has been instrumental in guiding essential strategic technologies. She is an advocate for the role of engineering within product innovation, increasing scope and influence as she moves initiatives forward.

Julie has led group mentoring circles for the last three years. Her goal was to create an empowering, trusting environment as well as inspire each member to take positive individual actions. She also mentors high school students, college students, interns and colleagues. Julie has encouraged her own two daughters to pursue degrees in food careers as well.

For the past year, Julie has been mentoring two graduate research fellows within the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences as they work to develop a device that will detect food borne pathogens and improve response times for recovery. She also serves as a student athlete mentor through the university’s Women Invested in Leadership and Learning program. In addition, she serves as the chairperson on the Southwest Minnesota State University’s Culinology/Hospitality Management Advisory Council.

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