Susan Gray

This entry is part 30 of 89 in the series

Gray,-SueSusan Gray

King Arthur Flour
Director of Research & Development

Years with company: 19 years

Education degrees and professional/volunteer organizations:
Johnson and Wales University B.S. Business, A.S. Culinary Art

Professional organizations include: The Research Chef’s Association (RCA), the American Association of Cereal Chemists (AACC) and the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT).

Mentors and how have they assisted you in your career: My parents and grandmother were great role models, instilling the value of hard work, honesty and kindness. My favorite high school teacher, Mr. Barr, made biology fascinating, and was always respectful of every student, gifted or not. PJ Hamel, one of the first people I worked for at King Arthur flour encouraged me in so many ways. My current manager, Mark Tecca,  is willing to push me out of my comfort zone when I need it, even when I don’t fully appreciate it at the time.

What are you most proud of in your career achievements? Do you have a defining moment oyour career to dateI prefer not to think of a defining moment in my career, but instead of what King Arthur Flour and my team have achieved over the past 19 years. We’ve experienced tremendous growth, more than tripling our workforce, with a corresponding growth in sales. We’re employee-owned and a B Corp, so success in one area means success for all.

I’m especially proud of our line of gluten-free mixes. When it first launched, we received many heartfelt letters of thanks from customers who appreciated the quality and taste of our new products – not necessarily a common response to new product launches. We received letters from parents telling us how grateful they were their children could enjoy family meals again, and bringing treats to school. They no longer needed to feel left out of class parties; and could eat a sandwich that looked like a real sandwich. I’m proud that King Arthur was one of the first successful major players in this area, and that we’ve made it much easier for people to eat gluten-free – not an easy thing, in our very food-centric society.

Most challenging part of your job: Time management: there are always more projects than we have time to investigate. More questions than we have time to find the answers to. More “stuff” we just want to know.

Also challenging is keeping current with the rapid changes in food regulations. Between GMO labeling being proposed in various states, the Food Safety Modernization Act, and proposed changes to labels on consumer packaging- that’s almost a full- time job right there!

Advice for upcoming younger executives: Invest in your employees; give them as much opportunity for growth and training as possible. Be observant; try to meet each person where they are that day.

Hobbies: I love feeding people, baking, swimming, and relaxing with a book, preferably on a beach.