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‘Having diverse ways of thinking in an organisation – even in an industry – is so critical for innovation and success’ - Lynda Doyle [Interview]

Article-‘Having diverse ways of thinking in an organisation – even in an industry – is so critical for innovation and success’ - Lynda Doyle [Interview]

‘Having diverse ways of thinking in an organisation – even in an industry – is so critical for innovation and success’ - Lynda Doyle
Lynda Doyle has over 30 years’ experience in the food supplement industry and has held senior positions in some of the biggest names in nutrition, including DSM, BASF, and Glanbia Nutritionals.

In 2019, she founded her own consultancy, Avant Nutrition, and works with food supplement companies to develop successful product formulations and branding strategies as well as ensuring regulatory compliance.

Doyle also has a passion for championing women’s roles in the industry and recently took up the position of secretary in the Women in Nutraceuticals association, a group dedicated to empowering  women in the sector to unlock their personal and professional potential.

What made you want to strike out alone and set up your own nutrition consultancy, Avant Nutrition, and how did your previous experience help you?

“I thought that going out on my own would allow me the flexibility to cross over different functions, do different things in my career, and allow me to support different types of companies in different roles.

“I've been really fortunate to be part of some formidable organisations throughout my career, and with each came a different set of learnings and experiences that I brought with me to subsequent roles in the future. I found it was important to take best practices from each, throughout the whole organisation, from product to promotion.

“It was also about taking the structure and processes of the large organisations but, at the same time, still maintaining an entrepreneurial spirit because that's really important. It was also important to leave the bureaucracy behind!

“I started my company in March of 2019 and a lot of my industry contacts came to me and said, ‘how do we find a way to work together?’ It's really been very humbling and exciting at the same time.

 “ “Today, I focus on innovation - science, regulatory and marketing -  and corporate strategy, formulation work, even the nitty gritty of regulatory work like label and ingredient reviews. Every day's a little different and that's what I like about it.”

You are secretary of the recently founded industry group, Women in Nutraceuticals (WIN). One of WIN’s aims is to support women attaining C-suite positions in the nutrition and supplement industry. What are some of the biggest challenges currently faced by women in this sector specifically?

“I do think that we've come a long way as an industry but there is an inherent bias that's still exists. It's evidenced by the lack of women in C-Suite and leading positions, the lack of funding that women entrepreneurs and female researchers receive, and the number of women in cohorts. There are challenges that exist across the whole career path.

“It’s hard to pinpoint ‘why’ but I think some of [the reasons] are brought on by who we are and some how women are seen in the industry. Women tend to be a little less self-confident than their male counterparts, we tend to second guess ourselves more. Of course, not all women are like this but those are more common traits among women. An example is questioning whether we deserve that next role even though we're more than qualified.

“We have to bring balance and gender parity to our industry: there are numerous studies that have shown diversity in an organisation actually helps the organisation be more profitable and develop better, broader ideas.

“But one of the things that I think is important is: I don't want to get a job because I'm a woman and I don't want to not get a job because I'm a woman. Part of what we need to do is find a way to look at the qualifications of the individual versus who the individual is.”

It’s early days still – WIN was founded just a few months ago – but what work have you done so far?

“First of all, it’s important to say that we're not a women's organisation. If it were simply a group of women, I would be running away because I feel that that's not going to solve anything! We need to bring men and women together; we have to be collaborative across the industry. That's the only way we'll be successful. Our [chief financial officer] CFO is a man, Doug Reader, we have numerous men that have come on board, and it's interesting and inspiring to hear their stories.

“So far, at Women in Nutraceuticals, we have established our values and mission, identified our core pillars  and objectives, developed multiple education platforms, and established the committees that we feel are going to be important to reach success and drive our mission forward.

“We are also developing a formal mentoring programme. That's really important because often women don't know how to get funding, don't know what's available to move forward, or don't necessarily know how to take those steps to move into a higher-level position.

“Again, women look at things differently and to have diverse ways of thinking in an organisation – even in an industry – is so critical for innovation and success in the industry.”

January is the time of year when people look ahead to the next 12 months and think about setting new goals or resolutions. Do you have any professional or personal new year resolutions you’d like to share with us?

“In business we're always identifying our goals and objectives and building a strategy to meet those goals and objectives, whether it’s for product innovation or the corporate side of things.

“This year I would like to develop a strategy around my personal goals and objectives. I have a combination of health -driven as well as personal project-driven goals. We'll see if it works!”