Anu Koorapati, director of research & development, Cherrydale/Barton's Confectioners, Allentown, Pa.

As a child, Anu Koorapati was fascinated by food and intrigued by science. Her strong competency in science, coupled with a desire to solve real world problems, led her to earning a master’s degree in food science and nutrition.

That educational path opened the doors for her in product development and quality assurance within the food industry. Three years ago, Koorapati joined Barton’s as director of research and development, a match that most closely resembles nirvana.

“I am one of those lucky people who loves their job,” she says. In overseeing research and development at Cherrydale/Barton’s, she not only develops new products and optimizes existing products with necessary shelf life and sensory characteristics, Koorapati also oversees product and nutrition labeling, regulatory compliance, product specifications and product and packaging improvements.

“Introducing new products is a challenging activity, one that requires the right financial and human resources, and it’s very time sensitive,” she explains. It’s critical to do extensive planning and managing in order to implement new product development projects with cross-functional teams.

Thus, coordinating and facilitating bench-top prototypes to plant trials, researching functional ingredients, and interacting with vendors and suppliers in custom ingredient development are all part of the daily workload.

But these days, it’s not enough just to be innovative as head of a major confectionery concern. One has to have the ability to solve problems. Fortunately, troubleshooting technical issues by providing expertise in the areas of food chemistry and ingredient functions is one of Koorapati’s passions. 

And symbiotically, so is chocolate.

What did you think you would be when you grew up?
A school teacher.

Name one or some of your favorite movies.
“The Pursuit of Happyness” and “12 Angry Men.”

Describe your perfect dream vacation.
To work in a remote part of the world helping people to help themselves.

What book are you currently reading?
The 8th Habit: from Effectiveness to Greatnessby Steven R. Covey.

Aside from a family member, whom would you most want to be stranded with on a deserted island?
The Wright brothers, if they were alive. They’d be able to get me out of there with some sort of an aircraft.

What’s your pet peeve?
Disrespect towards work, people and time.

I’d give anything to meet:
Mahatma Gandhi. I admire his philosophy “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

The best piece of advice that I’ve gotten:
It’s never over till you give up……so never give up!

What excites you most about your job?
The challenges involved.