Dietitian Career Spotlight on Kristen Lazaroff, RDN, LD
By SARAH KOSZYK, MA RDN on OCTOBER 18, 2013
Kristen Lazaroff found her dream job while networking during her dietetic internship. Building relationships and making connections has helped her succeed in advancing her career as a corporate dietitian. – Sarah
What attracted you to the field of nutrition and dietetics?
I have a similar story to most dietitians in that I was looking for a career in which I could help people, but wanted the freedom to look outside of clinical boundaries. Dietetics ended up being just the right fit for me. I have since realized my passion for business as well, so now I have found a way to merge my passions for food and nutrition with opportunities to work with marketing, sales, and corporate communications.
Your Job Title?
Principal Regulatory & Scientific Affairs Specialist, Labeling & Nutrition
Company you are with now?
Nestle USA – Nestle USA Products:
LEAN CUISINE®, NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE®, NESTLÉ® NESQUICK®, NESTLÉ® COFFEE-MATE®, STOUFFER’S®, HOT POCKETS® and LEAN POCKETS® brand sandwiches, NESCAFE®, NESTLÉ® JUICY JUICE®, BUITONI®, DREYER’S/EDY’S®, NESTLÉ® CRUNCH®, NESTLÉ® BUTTERFINGER®, WONKA®, DIGIORNO®, TOMBSTONE®, and CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN® frozen pizza.
Other Social Media links you would like to include:
Describe a typical (or not so typical) day-in-the-work-life for you?
A typical day for me includes meetings with cross-functional teams, including product development and marketing, to discuss product launches and innovation ideas. I serve as a subject matter expert on U.S. food and beverage labeling regulations as governed by the FDA and the USDA as well as a go-to resource for food and nutrition expertise. In addition to product meetings, I work to represent Nestle on trade association sodium committees. As with any role, I also spend many hours emailing, training others, researching, and prioritizing business-supported projects in addition to assigned stretch objectives within my own department. The days are typically fast-paced and sometimes long, but I would not trade it for anything as I am developing business acumen and am presented with new challenges each day.
How did you get your current job in dietetics?
Between my junior and senior years at Miami University, I was fortunate to land an internship with the Grocery Manufacturers Association in Washington, D.C. I learned of this opportunity through student involvement with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as this internship was posted to the student website. Once in Washington, I was hooked, and my eyes were opened to the vast opportunities within the food and beverage industry. After spending the summer working with an array of consumer packaged goods companies, I knew that Regulatory Affairs would be a great way for a dietitian to get their foot in the door. After finishing my dietetic internship and applying to several positions, a colleague notified me of a Regulatory Specialist position open in her department at Nestle; the rest is history. I was able to connect both personally and professionally in my interviews due to the Washington experience and my time spent studying abroad. These connections, along with my food and nutrition expertise, gave me an opportunity to prove myself in the role without any “real” work experience.
What skills were you born with and what skills have you learned along the way?
I believe I was born with a hard working nature that was further fostered while growing up in a family with a father who ran a family-owned business. He also encouraged my sisters and I to play team sports. I think my involvement in team sports nurtured my leadership tendencies and helped me to understand that much of who we are is because of those around you – especially when it comes time to enter the workforce. Along the way, I have learned several skills from my peers and those I admire, such as the importance of relationship building and being a good steward of the blessings given to you. More formally, I have acquired business and management skills in the corporate setting as well as in business school, which I hope to complete in 2014.
What advice do you have for others wanting to be just as successful and fulfilled as you?
Well, first I would say that success is only an observer’s perception of you. I feel as though I still have a long way to go in terms of accomplishing my goals and dreams as they relate to the mentors I admire. I am fulfilled each day by accomplishing challenging tasks, learning from others, and giving back through sharing of knowledge and skill sets. I truly believe that success and fulfillment come from one’s outlook on life and that we can all impact our own level of “success” and “fulfillment” through our own lens.
My advice for others on navigating your career would be to go out of your way to build relationships with new people and remember the power of networking. I always find it incredibly interesting when I meet a new person and am reminded of just how small our world really is. Having a question or two ready before you go to a meeting or conference will make it easy for you to start up a simple conversation with someone who just may hire you someday.
If you could be paid for your job with something other than a paycheck, what
would it be?
Running shoes and race entries, so I could travel the world on my feet!