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Spices Spotlight - Hien Tran

Please introduce yourself

My name is Hien Tran and I have been with Olam for over two years. I’m the Regional Quality Assurance Manager at Olam Spices’ Innovation and Quality Center in Fresno, California. It is my responsibility to ensure the products that we produce are safe, high-quality and authentic. 

I work closely with our IQ team to meet compliance with the FDA Food Regulations, the Global FS&Q Certification and customer expectations.

How are we keeping products safe for our customers? What processes or systems do we have in place to ensure the safest, high-quality spices?

The FSQ commitment letter, signed by our co-founder and Global CEO, Sunny Verghese, was translated into 10 different languages and is readily available for everyone view. We took this message by heart. 

Here at Olam, we understand food safety and quality is everyone’s responsibility – from the beginning of the process to the end. The ag team starts the process by eliminating foreign material in the field and we carry the process through to the end by auditing the processing facilities to make sure we’re in compliance with all standards and regulations.

What do you love most about your job?

I’m all about improving the quality of life for people. Which is why I get up every day and feel grateful that I can be part of a team that provides safe and delicious, high-quality food products to consumers. Once people feel safe about our products, they can use them to create healthy, delicious home cooked meals for their families. 

What challenges have you had to overcome as a woman in a primarily male-dominated field?

Not many people in my community think about agriculture as a field to go into, but I’ve always had a curiosity and love for nature. So I pursued my interests knowing that I would have many obstacles ahead of me. 

When I first started my career, about eighteen years ago, I encountered numerous challenges not only as a woman, but as an ethnic woman. It was hard for me to be accepted and to be heard, but then I kept telling myself “everyone has their own obstacles in the workforce regardless of age, gender or ethnicity.” Not everyone rejected me. Some were very supportive and guided me along the way.  

I did not give up and started counting my blessings against the challenges instead. Shortly, I realized the opportunities were greater than the obstacles that I was facing. So I was determined to stay with the journey that I’ve always wanted to explore. That was the moment I call “the pivot point” of my career and I have not regretted the decision I made 18 years ago.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I would tell my younger self, and anyone young woman who’s looking to pursue this field as a career, is to follow your passion and always face the challenge in a positive way. My cousin once shared with me a quote from Wayne Dye. It said “if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” I think that is very true.

Last but not least, work with integrity because now more than ever, everyone demands transparency and honesty. We build customer loyalty when they support our cause.

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