AAK Oliver Zhao

Customer Innovation Manager

Shanghai, China

Oliver Zhao

When and where were you a trainee?
I initially joined AAK as Customer Innovation technologist, and then I was accepted as a Customer Innovation Trainee on the 2017 programme. My focus is on bakery and food service in the Shanghai office, China.

What made you apply for a role with AAK?
I received my master degree from Wageningen University, the Netherlands, in Food Technology and I was really interested in working in global organization; specifically in the food industry. AAK as a company has a good global reputation and a sustainable development which is consistent with the current Chinese situation, being focussed on reducing the environmental impact of our industry. So, AAK was a perfect choice for me.

What does a typical day at AAK look like?
Working in AAK is so exciting, because every day is different. I am involved in a variety of projects to innovate and develop new products for our customers. Every morning I arrive a few minutes early in the office and check my list of priorities. I work closely with my manager and we ‘touch in’ daily to discuss my solutions. I travel a lot in my role to visit my customers, I work with them to find their ‘pain points’ and then provide our AAK solutions.

What is your biggest professional challenge?
Our Bakery customers are very different; even same product can have different processes to produce for different customers. This has been the biggest challenge for me – to know how the oil and fat impact the various applications. It has meant that I have needed to learn how to deal with unknown areas, and build my knowledge to be a professional Bakery CI Manager and work in a Co-Development environment with our customers.

What would be your best advice to trainees looking for a good start to their careers?
Know what you want, and dare to try and give more than 100% efforts to achieve your ambition. Keep your mind always positive and you will be ready to face everything.

What are your interests?
Cooking, travelling with my family and friends.

What is the coolest thing you have done?
Bungee jumping off a cliff.

What do you always carry with you – and why?
I always pack my swimming suit. Swimming gives me a lot of energy and makes me feel relaxed.