GROWING THE NEXT GENERATION OF EXPERTS
Since 2018, GELITA’s Young Professionals Network has been cultivating the next generation of experts in gelatin and collagen peptide production. It’s all about ensuring that our customers continue to benefit from world-leading expertise now and in the future.
“The large extend of the participants have one to two years’ experience at GELITA, and the majority are Process or Production or Maintenance or Project engineers,” explains Rafael Santos, Head of Global Process Technology and network coordinator. “Our focus is on providing them with the job-specific skills they need to be experts in their fields. We take them through what is expected of them from a technical perspective, and broaden their knowledge of gelatin and collagen peptide production. It’s a long-term commitment, too – they stay in the network until they reach a high level of professional maturity, which is important for fostering a sense of belonging.”
Opportunities within the network include the two-year Young Professionals Development Program, which currently has more than 50 members from sites around the world. The program’s centerpiece is an online academy, with training sessions focusing on the science and technology of gelatin and collagen peptide manufacturing. Each session and lectures are led by one of the senior members of GELITA’s Operations team, including Chief Operating Officer Michael Van Elsacker.
“The academy is all about our experts passing on their know-how and experience to the next generation,” says Rafael Santos. “We want to equip these young professionals with the knowledge relevant to their work and create a foundation on which they can further develop their technical skills. This year, participants are also building a new database to record everything they’ve learned, which will become a valuable resource for other GELITA employees.”
Gaining experience in a different GELITA plant is another key aspect of the program. The first to benefit from an international placement was Alejandra Dominguez, a 29-year-old process manager at the Toluca site in Mexico. From September to December 2022, she was assigned to GELITA’s facility in Christchurch, New Zealand.
“I was keen to get to know the processes as well as the culture at the plant, and to support the local team with my own experience,” she explains. “I also wanted to learn as much as possible and take back new ideas to Mexico.” Setting her sights firmly on the future, she adds, “I’ll definitely profit from the experience I’ve gained in New Zealand. And I’m already looking forward to passing on my own specialist skills to the next generation one day.”