Dairy, Farms, Bees, and Sustainability: A Deep Dive with Nancy Winkelmolen
Hi Nancy, can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Nancy Winkelmolen, and I am a Dairy Sustainability Specialist at Interfood. I live in Grashoek in Limburg, close to Venlo and the border between the Netherlands and Germany. I live with my husband, teenagers, and our animals in the green countryside. We enjoy spending time outdoors and appreciating nature. For instance, we care for 5 beehives, which support pollination. I grew up on a dairy farm, and my love for farming has remained. That passion is a reason I love working for Interfood in the dairy and sustainability sectors.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up at Interfood?
After over a decade in the Industrial Bakery business, I felt it was time to transition. I had enjoyed working in New Product Development, Quality Assurance, and collaborating with multinational quick-service restaurant chains. The food industry fascinated me, especially understanding the origin of raw materials, whether wheat for bakeries or milk for dairies. That's when I encountered Interfood in 2016 and began an exciting journey.
What inspired you to pursue a career in your field, and what motivates you to continue working in this industry?
I enjoy working with demanding counterparties. They challenge me to simplify complex situations. When I joined Interfood, such interactions appealed to me, especially in a role collaborating with multinationals. Dairy specifically was a great opportunity. As I mentioned, I’m born and raised at the dairy farm of my parents and the farm is still in our family today. It feels very good it connected my roots.
What motivates you to come to work every day at Interfood, and how does your role contribute to the company's success?
I initially served as a Technical Support Coordinator in the Quality Department. Soon, I transitioned to the Technical Service Team, collaborating with our buyers and processors. My responsibilities expanded, and I became the Technical Development Manager, then the Technical Account Manager. Besides offering technical support in quality, I noticed the industry increasingly focusing on responsible sourcing. This change allowed me to connect with dairy farmers directly, with my boots on the ground.
Can you talk about a project or initiative that you were particularly passionate about, and what about it resonated with you?
I'm honored to have joined the Sustainability Project Team in 2020. This field holds significance both professionally and personally. My commitment to climate conservation extends beyond work, influencing my family and community engagements. I love networking and fostering relationships. It's rewarding when these connections culminate in success, which aligns perfectly with my persona.
What kind of impact do you hope to make through your work, and how do you measure success?
I view my role as pivotal in addressing climate change. Supporting efforts to create a sustainable dairy chain results in impactful changes. Being in this field signifies the commencement of multiple successes.
Looking to the future, what goals or aspirations do you have for your career, and what steps are you taking to achieve them?
I aspire to be a specialist in responsible and sustainable dairy farming and to master global systems to share best practices. I aim to identify areas for impactful sustainable improvements and be a trusted intermediary between Farmers, Processors, and Buyers for sustainability initiatives, always keeping the business perspective at the forefront.
Can you share a specific example of how Interfood's culture and values have impacted your work or the way you approach your role?
Interfood's values guide me daily. Teamwork, which I cherish, is essential for driving change, whether with colleagues or external partners. Exemplifying responsible leadership aligns with my principles, fostering personal and organizational growth.
What kind of work-life balance do you maintain while working at Interfood, and how does the company support your well-being?
My professional and personal interests often align. I engage in community activities, such as co-chairing the local sustainability cooperation, which mirrors what I teach my children. Interfood offers flexibility, fostering a harmonious partnership between me and my employer. Additionally, Interfood supported my beekeeping hobby by allowing beehives near our office, promoting pollination and biodiversity. We even have our own honey now at the office, how cool is that?
Can you talk about a time when you received recognition or support from a colleague or manager at Interfood that had a meaningful impact on you?
Certainly. The most memorable was during my career progression. When a colleague recognized my enthusiasm and encouraged my growth, it gave me a significant boost. Joining the Sustainability team was a recognition that filled me with pride.
What do you think sets Interfood apart from other companies you've worked for, and how has this impacted your career development?
Ultimately, personal initiative matters. Interfood prioritizes employee growth, encourages sharing ideas, and can transform dreams into reality. But it's upon the employee to voice their aspirations. Given this, opportunities at Interfood feel limitless.
How does Interfood foster a sense of community and teamwork among its employees, and what role do you play in this?
Interfood organizes numerous events. As the company has grown, the importance of unity and teamwork has magnified. I enjoy bonding with colleagues, both within and outside the company setting.
Looking to the future, how do you see Interfood evolving and adapting to new challenges and opportunities, and what role do you see yourself playing in this journey?
I believe Interfood is a conscientious company with a clear vision. It's essential to ensure a sustainable future, especially in the Dairy industry, which presents numerous developmental avenues such as responsible farming and substitutes of dairy. We need to take care of the future and the future of our business. I am committed to this journey and am excited about the path ahead.
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