Alumni Highlights: Paul Vilker '14

We interviewed MSU AFRE Food Industry Management alumnus Paul Vilker 14' about his time in the program and how it helped prepare him for his current job.

Where do you currently work and what is your job title?

I currently work at the GFB (Gluten Free Bar). I am their Operations Manager.

What do your job responsibilities include?

My current job responsibilities include:

  • Manage a work force of 50 + team members, which include three production supervisors and two industrial maintenance mechanics
  • Create weekly production schedule for the production team
  • Participate with senior leadership to help engineer a customer focused culture of safety, accountability and teamwork
  • Work cross-functionally with Quality, Supply Chain, Procurement, R&D / Product Development, and Sales teams to increase production efficiencies, prepare for new demand and support business growth
  • Lead cross functional teams, which include shift leaders, sustainability / zero waste, inventory control and quality teams to identify gaps and streamline production processes

Do you feel that your degree prepared you for your current job? If so, in what ways?

Yes. The Food Industry Management degree program provided a solid foundation for me to be successful in my career. The program allowed for diverse team building activities, project management opportunities, and created an environment to hone my time management skills required to effectively perform in my current capacity. I also was able to study abroad where I gained a unique understanding of international food laws and regulations, which I’ve been able to leverage throughout my career thus far.

What advice would you give to an AFRE undergrad about your degree program? What kind of job advice would you give to a recent or soon to be AFRE graduate?

Do your best to set yourself a part… get an internship, join a group, study abroad, network and leverage your relationships. Good grades only go so far. If you want to set yourself on a trajectory of high success you must put in the extra work. Don’t give up and be persistent. Go after what you want.

What is your favorite thing about the company you work for?

The GFB is a B Corporation, which follows what’s called the triple bottom line – People, Planet and Prosperity. We put our people first, and it shows. We’ve partnered with a community service partner called The Source and Mixed Staffing agency to hire returning citizens who were recently released from being incarcerated. Today, 40% of our production workforce are returning citizens. We are also a Zero Waste facility and are actively seeking a Zero Waste certification, which means 90% of our waste is recycled, up-cycled or composted.

We also make healthy, tasty, protein packed snacks!

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