Dietetic Career Spotlight on Karen Buch, Nutrition Connections, LLC
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on JANUARY 28, 2019
Meet Karen Buch, RDN, LDN, who started her career working for a supermarket chain and later started a private consulting business. Learn how you can use past experiences to build your future career. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
I chose my field of interest while in high school. I had a natural interest in science, but knew that I did not want to become a nurse. I was inspired to study human nutrition because I first wanted to learn to eat healthier myself and then help others do the same.
At the time, I had no idea that I would be able to use my nutrition degree to work in so many diverse roles. In my first job, I provided acute care as the sole in-patient dietitian at a community hospital and as a hospice care team member. Later, I transitioned to outpatient care while concurrently working at Bucknell University’s student health center, where I provided medical nutrition therapy for eating disorders and other nutrition-related concerns. From there, I left direct patient care to work as a Senior Marketing Manager for a California-based sales and marketing firm where I helped launch seven retailer-based consumer marketing and education programs headed by registered dietitians.
Most recently, I worked for a regional supermarket chain of 165 stores in Pennsylvania and surrounding states. There, I served for 12 years as a Director, corporate dietitian, and nutrition spokesperson. During that time, I used a multi-media approach, including weekly television appearances, messaging on weekly radio, producing a bi-monthly magazine and crafting social media posts to deliver nutrition communications to consumers. Together, with a small team of dietitians, we created various award-winning programming to address the nutritional needs of both customers and associates.
Your Job Title?
Principal Consultant, Founder
Company you are with now?
Nutrition Connections, LLC
Other Social Media links you would like to include:
– Facebook: Nutrition Connections LLC
– Instagram: @karenbuch1
– Twitter: @karenbuch
Describe a typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
As a small business owner, I spend my days servicing the varied needs of my clients. My services are quite diverse and can be tactical or strategic.
Tactical services include writing articles for publication, speaking at conferences and webinars, making media appearances, developing recipes with nutritional analysis, producing recipe instructional videos, writing social media and blog posts, executing influencer outreach plans, and providing brand representation at meetings or events.
Strategic services include serving as a health professional advisor / board member, synthesizing industry insights, conducting focus groups and market analysis with reporting and assisting clients to work through phases of needs assessment, strategic planning, budgeting, and implementation and evaluation to deliver measurable return-on-investment (ROI).
I’m also a parent to two active grade-schoolers. One of the best parts of being an entrepreneur is better work-life balance. I set my own work hours and commit to work-related travel and projects that interest me, while keeping family responsibilities and personal health and fitness high priorities on my to-do list.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
I was one of the first dietitians to work full-time for a supermarket chain in a consumer-facing role and serve on its corporate executive team as a department Director. That experience helped me carve out a niche in my own consulting business. I specialize in supermarket retail dietetics and food, culinary, and nutrition communications, providing tactical and strategic consulting services to various clients within the food industry. Every step along the way on my career path provided valuable experiences to help me get to where I am today.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I was born with artistic creativity and an eye for design coupled with a natural curiosity for science and learning how things work. That curiosity certainly keeps me interested in ever-evolving nutrition science. I tap into my creative side when developing and editing content and layouts for magazines or consumer education pieces, creating story boards for video, shooting food photography, or developing new recipes.
Along the way, I’ve learned to be more decisive. There were times, early in my career, when I struggled with ‘analysis paralysis.’ I wanted to gather absolutely ALL of the available information before moving forward with a decision. I’ve since learned to make decisions that both adequately informed AND timely.
I’ve also learned how to mesh my nutritional expertise with business acumen. It helped me realize that I could use my nutrition degree in venues that I never even considered when I first decided to become a Registered Dietitian.
In addition, I have a sincere passion for cooking and eating delicious, healthful food which I have learned to harness for the betterment of my business. Fittingly, my blog,FoodNews and Reviews,is “dedicated to the healthy enjoyment of food.”
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
If given the chance, I would offer these pieces of advice to others.
1. Do what you love and love what you do.
2. Listen to your inner voice and remember Shakespeare’s words— “to thine own self be true.”
3. Spend less time looking back and more time moving forward.
4. Live in gratitude—many people have helped to contribute to your success along the way.
5. Even when you feel like you have no idea how to do something—try anyway
6. Don’t compare your success with others—you will shine in your own way and in your own time.
7. Never burn bridges. The dietetics world is a small one and—most likely— paths will cross again.
8. Build up others—even those who could be viewed as ‘competitors’—a rising tide lifts everyone’s boat.
9. Give back to the profession through volunteerism on DPG boards or by serving your state association.
10. Work with a mentor early in your career and—later—mentor others as a way to pay it forward.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what
would it be?
If I could be paid for my job with something other than a paycheck, I would choose travel experiences. I love to experience different cuisines and cultures both regionally, here in the U.S., and abroad.