NutritionJobs: You have been the Nutrition Strategist at Clif Bar & Co. for over 10 years. You started in the Customer Service Department and then developed and expanded the Nutrition Department. Your current role is in Nutrition Brand Strategy, Nutrition Education, Nutrition Communication, and Nutrition Labeling Claims affairs. Tell us how you got there.
Tara DelloIacono Thies: As you mentioned, I started in Consumer Service (CS). They had just launched Luna Bar and were getting tons of nutrition questions that they couldn’t answer. Clif Bar had a dietitian that consulted for them but they decided they needed an RD on staff to answer these sorts of questions. The position quickly evolved into having me train the CS department to answer the nutrition questions we frequently received. I wrote nutrition resources for the CS team. The brand and marketing teams then also started using those nutrition resources, which linked into the development process for new products that would impact the health of women, kids, and athletes. This all fed into the strategy portion of my job, which is now what I spend a lot of time thinking about and doing. Wondering how can we make a healthy product that will really benefit certain populations.
NutritionJobs: You have a very unique career and job title as a Dietitian Informaticist at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center in Bethesda, MD. Your impressive resume reads like that of an Information Technology Manager rather than a Registered Dietitian. How would you describe your job?
Lee Unangst: I have a couple of major responsibilities. I do everything from setting up servers and patching databases to processing diet orders and figuring out why printers aren’t printing out meal tickets! I run our patient service using CBORD Foodservice Management System. I serve as the ambassador between the kitchen, the dietetic staff and the hospital’s Information Technology (IT) department; I help facilitate communication between groups with very different backgrounds. My background in nutrition and clinical dietetics is critical in this role. This job has been a great experience!
NutritionJobs: You are the Past President of the Nutrition Entrepreneurs dietetic practice group and own a successful practice as a culinary and nutrition communications consultant. You are also an accomplished writer and event producer. Your clients have included Glaceau Waters, Which Wich Superior Sandwiches, Taco Bueno Restaurants, Sara Lee, Bausch and Lomb, Unilever, Avocados from Mexico, popchips!, Sysco Foods, Fisher Pay Kel Appliances, the American Institute of Wine and Food and DMA & Associates, a produce industry boutique marketing group. You represent an interesting side of dietetics.
Robin Plotkin: I hang out on the food side of dietetics! I have always loved food and enjoy educating others, dietitians included, about foods versus nutrients.
NutritionJobs: You own a very successful private nutrition counseling practice in New Hampshire and are very involved with many dietetic organizations. But this wasn’t your first career. How did you get your start?
Gita Patel: At the age of 45 I suddenly, and unexpectedly, needed to be financially independent. I decided to go back to do my internship to become a Registered Dietitian. This involved doing post graduate course work.
NutritionJobs: You are currently the Clinical Recruitment Manager for Sodexo, USA, and you have also held the honored title of President of the American Dietetic Association, 2004-2005. But you started out in the pediatric intensive care unit. How did you make the transition from pediatric dietetics to recruiting?
Ms. Laramee: A lot of advances in nutrition science were happening when I first started out as a dietitian. Tube feeding and TPN were becoming more available. The RD role in the hospital was becoming clearer. In the NICU, I had the opportunity to be part of a team of MD’s and RN where we learned from each other. But eventually I burned out on the intensity of the job. It also became routine. I later discovered that there were more career opportunities supporting our profession and in the business end of dietetics.
You’ll be surprised to learn who mentors her. Read on…
NutritionJobs.com: As a Registered Dietitian you have a unique educational background. How has this influenced your ability to provide nutrition counseling?
Ms. Ledesma: I have a BA in Psychology but also went for a Master’s in Nutrition and launched a career as a sports nutritionist before settling in as an oncology dietitian. Working with the WHEL study proved to be a pivotal point in my career. I found my passion working with oncology patients. My background in Psychology helps with one-on-one nutrition counseling. You have currently integrated several different positions to create an impressive career as a well respected RD in San Francisco.