By Morgan Wolfe
Bringing ideas to life is what motivates Melissa Weber everyday in her job at Mars Petcare. Melissa lives with a passion for taking consumer insights and developing solutions to unmet consumer needs. Mars Petcare allows her to practice this passion daily and even pushes her to think more creatively.
Although she is happy in her career and current pursuits, Melissa had to push herself to get where she is. Her hard work began here at K-State after she finished her undergrad at The University of Tennessee Martin.
“I grew up with a fascination for Agriculture and knew that I wanted to pursue a career in an agriculture field,” Melissa explained. “I looked into Agricultural Communication, but quickly realized that I had a strong passion for science that was not met in the communications field. My undergraduate advisor recommended graduate study in meat science and pointed me to K-State.”
With minimal experience in food science, Melissa followed this recommendation and left her lifelong home in Tennessee for the great Midwest.
“I quickly grew to the love the field with the complexity that exists in live animal production, conversion of muscle to meat and the development of high quality meat products that are consumer relevant,” Melissa said. She faced some challenges throughout the program too though.
“I had limited experience in meat science and had a lot of catching up to do. I had to study hard, listen and learn from my fellow graduate students and immerse myself in the meat lab to become ‘fluent’ in meat science,” Melissa reflected. “I also learned that research doesn’t always go as planned.”
During her Ph.D. research, a tornado hit Weber Hall, shutting down the meat lab entirely. Melissa had to get creative.
“Thankfully we had industry partners who allowed us to use their facilities to insure my research who be completed. I learned the difference between finding solutions and just identifying problems. There will always be challenges and people who can find ways around those challenges will stand out,” Melissa noted.
This skill has helped Melissa greatly in her career. In a face-paced work industry, one of Melissa’s first standalone projects at Mars Petcare was to bring a new brand to life in just six months.
“An average day is spent working on projects in various stages (some are at ideation, some are in testing and some are being launched) and collaborating with marketing, plants and peers to scope projects and troubleshoot issues,” Melissa explained. “No day is ever the same, so I never get bored!”
Melissa loves her job at Mars Petcare because the family-owned business truly stands behind its five principles to create an environment focused on quality, efficiency, mutuality, responsibility and freedom.
“It’s challenging,” Melissa mentioned. “We have two consumers: pets and pet parents. We have to create complete and balanced meals, and we have to lower tier raw materials to create high quality, highly regulated products. I also get to bring my dog to work!.”