How Women are Driving Food and Beverage Innovation


This International Women’s Day, we celebrate all of the incredible women leaders at Kerry, including the 9 highlighted in the following profiles

International Women’s Day is celebrated just once a year, but each and every day Kerry benefits from the unique talents and accomplishments of the women amongst its workforce. As such, we’re taking a break from our typical article on KerryDigest to shine a spotlight on several of the women leaders at Kerry who have been integral in moving our company forward.

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Leslie Serrano

As an innovation chef, I create on-trend solutions designed to satisfy the needs of our customers. As a result, I’m always in pursuit of the most popular and unique food experiences. When I create a dish, sauce or other food that could be replicated for our industry I work with our research and development department as they create a scalable recipe. This is my eighth year working with Kerry, and my goal this year is to build a team of women in research and development who are passionate about food innovation and have the kitchen skill set to create presentations and design proposals for our customers. No matter who I work with, I’m trying to promote a culinary mindset and foodie passion and expertise.

— Leslie Serrano, Innovation Chef, North America

Soledad Almeida

Taste is a top priority for Kerry, and I’m responsible for leading marketing efforts around taste in Latin America. I help to define our strategies for growing our taste positioning across all countries in region, from launching our taste brands and rolling them out to each region to identifying key taste trends so products can be customised for Latin American consumers. I’ve been at Kerry for 10 years, and in that time I’ve had the opportunity to work in different Kerry locations including Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. Doing so has given me a better understanding of different cultures and ways of working. This recently came together in the work I did on the 2019 Kerry Taste Charts for Latin America, which aligned globally to bring customers in Latin America the last trends in flavours and ingredients across sweet, beverage and savoury.

— Soledad Almeida, Strategic Marketing Manager, Latin America

Jenny Huang

I’ve been with Kerry for nine years now—this is the only company I’ve ever worked for. My role as a flavourist gives me the chance to continuously problem solve, collaborate and learn. I create new flavour systems to meet customer requirements, provide support for flavour needs as dictated by other research and development functions and provide technical support to new and existing customers. For instance, I recently worked with a leading dairy product manufacturer to create a quick and cost-effective flavour for a yogurt product. After a few rounds we created a winning solution, which will soon appear on store shelves. Much of my work also centres around flavour matching, which is always an interesting challenge.

— Jenny Huang, Flavourist, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa

soumya Nair

I lead the consumer insights and marketing insights function for Kerry North America. My big goal is to inspire and educate Kerry on key aspects of consumer lifestyles—from trends and preferences to habits—highlighting what’s most relevant to our business and encouraging our greater teams to continually innovate. This past year our department met and exceeded the number of marketing insights projects we’ve done for Kerry, from clean label to plant protein. This involved stepping up the market research function to unravel more of our growth initiatives and take a more active role in planning projects for the future. I’ve spent 16 years in research, six of them at Kerry. Consumers drive me. It’s so dynamic in the marketplace and always changing. I see my role as not only collecting insights, but also getting them to really matter—to push the company to think beyond four walls and bring the outside in.

— Soumya Nair, Director of Marketing Insights, North America

Guadalupe Ortiz

As RD&A Taste Manager, my responsibility is to help lead flavour creation in LATAM as well as our regional beverage applications team. I work with external projects under the taste technology umbrella and support the various technologies amongst internal projects. When I think about assigning a task, I do not see color, gender or age. I only consider the capabilities needed and the potential for one of my team members to be developed. I’ve worked in the flavour and food and beverage industry for more than 34 years, the last two-and-half with Kerry. We recently finished a flavour project for a large brand—it’s always exciting when the hard work of your team pays off as closed won business.

— Guadalupe Ortiz, Research, Development and Applications Taste Manager, Latin America

Norzee binti Ahmad

I’m responsible for the planning of the halal assurance system program and activities at the Kerry Plentong plant in Johor, Malaysia. This includes applying the halal certification process for product certification, setting up a manual of halal assurance systems and ensuring the implementation of halal assurance is compliant with all regulations and requirements. I’ve spent nine years with Kerry Plentong, and during that time I’ve gained tremendous experience in manufacturing culinary wet and beverage products. Working with a multinational company that is recognized worldwide has challenged me to build more creative and energetic spirit, which I put towards tasks given as well as activities and events at the plant. This year I’m secretary of our Canteen Committee, which works to improve the quality of foods supplied to all employees, and I helped to organize the 2018 International Women Day activities with the team at Kerry Plentong. I’ve also been involved in various plant-based events and clubs including Halal Day; Halal Masterchef; the sport, welfare and recreation club and blood drives.

— Norzee binti Ahmad, Senior Halal Manufacturing Executive, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa

Aisling Aherne

As nutrition science manager for Europe and Russia, no two days are the same! I am responsible for ensuring that Kerry maintains its nutrition-focused approach and that our colleagues keep nutrition on their radar, whether working on new products or planning customer workshops and visits. One way I do this is by helping teams ensure their concepts are nutritionally optimised and that they provide relevant nutrition benefits with messaging that is appropriate for the target consumer. I also keep teams up-to-date on the evolving nutrition regulatory landscape and nutrition science developments while acting as a nutrition support to key customers that do not have internal nutrition resources. Throughout my career I’ve published numerous articles in academic journals, trade publications and the consumer press. Since joining Kerry in 2016, I have contributed to the development and promotion of the Kerry Health & Nutrition Institute, our information centre for scientific research and the latest developments in nutrition science and healthl.

— Aisling Aherne, PhD, RNutr, Nutrition Science Manager, Europe and Russia

Renata Ibarra

As lead of the liquid beverage research, development and applications team, I make sure projects are assigned the necessary resources and expertise and that any proposed products meet customer requirements as well as Kerry’s core Taste and Nutrition values. This means I get to taste fantastic creations every day, participate in cross-functional teams, support and help build our beverage strategy and develop talent. Every day is really broad an exciting, from developing a turnkey high-protein solution, to working with our brewmaster as he adds our Crystals™ to beer. to using our coffee extracts to develop a syrup or sauce. By working cross-functionally we are able to create unique formulas and flavours that regularly receive accolades from customers. I am extremely proud of my team. I’ve worked with Kerry for eight years and have been in the food and flavor industry for 22 years.

— Renata Ibarra, Senior Director of Beverage, North America

Zeynep Ilkbahar

I studied food engineering at Istanbul Technical University in Turkey and graduated in 1999. That same year I started my career in the food industry. Since joining Kerry in 2017 as Senior Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Manager, my role has centered around generating guidelines and position papers on issues for which there are no clear rules and regulations. I also do “horizon scanning” to identify regulatory changes that represent a potential threat or opportunity to the business, provide technical advice at all stages of the innovation pipeline to ensure that decision making is consistent and timely and serve as a representative at industry associations and government bodies. I came to Kerry after taking a two-and-a-half year career break to raise my daughter. It can be hard for women to restart their careers after taking time off to raise children, but during my time off I continued to stay involved in the industry and was lucky to find an employer that was supportive.

— Zeynep Ilkbahar, Senior Regulatory Affairs Manager for Taste, Europe


These are just a few of the many fantastic women working across Kerry. The individual insights and innovations from our diverse and global team members are essential to our success, from optimising our manufacturing facilities to gathering valuable feedback in our sensory labs. If you’re interested in working alongside these great women, explore a career with Kerry.


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