Meet Mitu: Chocolate Beverage Master
Mitu Sarma is a Senior Scientist in our Cocoa Beverage category. She currently works on the Bournvita brand, which has many different variants and is sold predominantly in India and Africa.
She’s proud to work on a brand she grew up with, and finds that people become fascinated as soon as she tells them she works for Mondelēz International.
Mitu is based in Thane, India and has been with us for five years. Here she tells us about her experiences with Mondelēz International.
Making Bournvita even more brilliant
I work on Bournvita. It’s like a health drink for teenagers, as well as for younger kids. My job is to look at the nutrition profile of each Bournvita drink and then formulate it so that we can scale up to produce it in our factories while maintaining the best quality standards.
I’m constantly looking at how we can enhance the product going forward. Making it more nutritious and tastier. I also work on innovation initiatives. Last year, for instance, we launched a new Bournvita product with almonds and honey. It involved several breakthrough innovations, for which we’ve filed patents. The whole project was very exciting, and gave me a lot of exposure to different aspects of product development.
How I got started
I was recruited straight out of college and joined our technical trainee program. It’s a unique program. There’s nothing else like it in the industry. Mondelēz International picks promising students at various universities, and then trains them for 18 months across different functions. You get commercial stints, quality stints, plant stints and Research and Development core function stints. It’s a great experience and exposes you to the business as a whole.
Where ideas come from
When it comes to enhancing a product or inventing a new one, the idea can come from anywhere. Having said that, a lot of ideas come from marketing. They’re really familiar with what consumers want and they know what our competitors are doing, like any changes they’re making to existing products or any new products they’re introducing.
Of course, if we’re going to go ahead with an idea, it has to be viable. It has to have the backing of our entire team. There are a lot of great ideas out there, but there are also some pretty absurd ones too. So before taking any idea forward, we need to believe it’ll work.
Working as a global team
We’re like one big global team. Earlier today, for instance, I was working on Tang. Tang is a global brand, so we have people all over the world coming up with innovative ideas about how we can improve the product. Their ideas can help me and my ideas can help them. So even though I’m based in India, I can reach out to colleagues in Latin America and we can work together.
An important part of this is our intranet portals. This is where we present our work. So whenever I do something on cocoa here in India, I can load it onto our system so that anyone at Mondelēz International in any part of the world can access it. It’s really useful.
We also have centers of excellence for every ingredient, of every product, of every brand. In the UK, for example, we have a team that works exclusively on cocoa. Which means that if I need to know something about cocoa processing or the different grades of cocoa, I know where to ask.
The importance of being global
If you look at India today and compare it to the India I grew up in, you see that there’s more of a global influence on the food we eat. There’s been a lot of change. And as a business, we need to adapt to that change. Not just in India, but in other countries as well.
We need to know how other regions are working and the different products that are emerging. We need to stay on top of what is happening now, and what will happen tomorrow. And we need to be familiar with other cultures, so that if someone like me relocates to the UK or Latin America, it won’t be a shock.
I think the more global we are, the more dynamic we are. The more open we are to new ideas and ways of working. And that can only be a good thing.