My name is Kelly De Vadder, I’m 40 years old, I’m married, and I have a son. I’m the Marketing Director at Kemin Food Technologies EMEA, which makes me responsible for strategic marketing, communications, new product launches etc. I’ve been working at Kemin Food Technologies for 15 years, from the day it was established.
Name: Kelly De Vadder
Job title: Marketing Director for Kemin Food Technologies EMEA
What’s your academic history?
I have a Bachelor’s degree in Business Translation and Economics.
Where did your career take you before joining Kemin?
I started out at a petrochemical production company. I was an intern there and got the opportunity to stay on as a project lead for public relations. It was there I learned to work independently and take ownership.
How did you find your way to Kemin?
After three years I started looking for a new professional opportunity and soon after I joined Kemin, back in 2006. Kemin was setting up a new business unit and I could join from scratch: Kemin Food Technologies. My interest was caught by the fact that it was a newly formed, flexible unit – with room for fast decision making. Another plus was that the unit was supported by a large, steady international company.
What’s your secret in combining the creative world of marketing with that of complex scientific products?
Customer centricity: you always need to think in name of the customer. The scientific data support is - of course - important at Kemin, just like communication between different departments. You must be willing to read a lot, to study, to find out. It’s vital to properly understand the scientific background of each Kemin product. If you don’t, handling product marketing becomes very difficult. You have to think outside the box to find a creative way of marketing the products.
Do you get to spar with (marketing) colleagues in other parts of the world?
I have to say, there is a lot of interaction. Globally, products are similar – but with totally different markets to cater to. That’s why we have a lot of marketing meetings and monthly calls with all the marketing professionals.
I also interact a lot with other divisions, simply because I have a role to play in multiple Kemin teams. Sales and marketing make up one such team, it’s a key aspect of being successful. There is also a strong collaboration with Customer Laboratory Services (CLS) and Research & Development (R&D). When you’re not in this business, it’s easy to underestimate the amount of scientific knowledge involved. We offer a service, so testing is a vital part of our daily lives. We make scientific reports and that’s how we bring our products to market. Marketing plays an important role in translating these reports into marketing material such as brochures and technical literatures.
What do you love about Kemin as an employer?
I joined Kemin as an executive and administrative assistant, with an overall support role. Afterwards, I took several marketing courses at Vlerick Business School to qualify for a marketing position. Kemin supported me in this goal and provided me with the opportunity to become a marketing specialist. From there, I grew to become marketing manager and later marketing director. You could say it has been a beautiful career path, these past 15 years. I also love how Kemin wants to improve the quality of life in a sustainable manner. Through The World Food Program, we regularly contribute to charity. That is how we inspire loyalty.
What is your favorite food solution that Kemin offers?
In the beginning we worked with synthetic antioxidants. I like how they eventually evolved into natural, label-friendly solutions. NaturFORT, for example, is a versatile combination consisting of rosemary and green tea extracts that complement each other. The natural combination provides superior protection with a positive impact on flavour, colour and odour. The product can be used to extend the shelf life of meat products as well as sauces and dressings but can also be used in many other applications such as cereals or bread sticks.
What are the most important lessons you learned while at Kemin?
Never give up. If you have a goal in mind, pursue it. I discovered the importance of having a positive attitude and being open to change. Change as a way of life. Be innovative, educate yourself, follow training courses and never stop learning, be ahead of competition. Hang on to these lessons and you’ll never find yourself in a place you don’t want to be in.
Covid, for example, proved a big challenge for me as a Marketing Director. We had to adapt our marketing strategy and plans. We started conducting our webinars to stay in touch with customers in a digital way. It’s so important nowadays to have a strong, digital presence.
When do you feel you’ve made a difference at Kemin Food Technologies EMEA?
If we can attract new businesses by launching innovative solutions and solve the problem of our customers by providing them with new insights. Also, if I look back on our journey so far, it’s great to see that our team has grown to one of 25 professionals. We’re ready to make a difference.
Which goals still lie ahead?
Today, we’re experts when it comes to sauces, meat, poultry, oils, and fish. However, we’re ready to focus on new markets, such as the fast-growing plant-based food market and bakery. We recently launched TILLAPACK™, an all-in-one premix to safeguard the quality of tortillas.
After more than 15 years, what are the most notable changes you’ve experienced in your field?
There has been a shift in the ingredient landscape. For example, from ‘clean label’ to more ‘clear label’: customers want to scan labels and find out any product’s ingredients immediately. You have to keep an eye out for trends as well. Trends to sustainability, organic foods, transparency in the supply chain, authenticity etc. A prime example of this is Kemin’s own rosemary field. We control the entire chain to ensure that our customers have a clear insight in the supply chain of our rosemary products. We have the full process from seed to final extract in our hands. That’s an added value.
What are some of your favorite pastimes outside of work?
I like traveling, food, and most of all: a combination of both. I really enjoy local foods when I travel. I also like to spend time with family and friends. Barbecues in the summer, nature walks and so on. Simplicity is all you need at times.
What’s your personal motto?
Always be yourself. You know your own strengths and weaknesses. Never give up on the idea that Rome wasn’t built in a day. When you have a goal, be persistent. That’s one of my character traits. I’m a go-getter, both personally and professionally.