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Universal Robina Corporation

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  • #2 in R&D and manufacturing
  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Kimberly O. Hsieh

As a Management Trainee at URC, I rotate through various departments relevant to the research, development, and maintenance of URC’s food products so that I am able to grasp the entire picture of how product development works and gain valuable technical know-how and perspectives on important in product research and development.

What's your job about?

As a Management Trainee at URC, I rotate through various departments relevant to the research, development, and maintenance of URC’s food products so that I am able to grasp the entire picture of how product development works and gain valuable technical know-how and perspectives on important in product research and development.

As I rotate from RND to Procurement, Brand Marketing, Integrated Supply Chain, and Sales, I am challenged to quickly learn and master things that are outside my area of expertise as I perform tasks and solve problems that are unique to each department. Because I am exposed to this fast-paced and highly varied learning environment, I am able to graduate from the Training Program better equipped to carry out RND projects, not just from the perspective of a BS Food Technology Graduate, but as someone with sufficient understanding of the technicalities of Procurement processes, the numbers and various factors involved in Brand Marketing and Sales Strategies, and the intricacy of the interconnected operations managed by the Integrated Supply Chain. This, coupled with the character development I am able to experience because of the constant learning and unlearning under a fast-paced and agile environment, really fast-tracks my growth so that things that would normally take years for RND scientists to develop, I am able to absorb and adapt to in just months.

What's your background?

Growing up in a traditional Chinese household and going to a Private all-girls Chinese High School, the business has always been the go-to route for me. Because of this, I struggled for a time because most of my passions were NOT in the business field – it was either art or science for me. In my confusion, I decided to just try going the Art route first and entered UP Diliman to study BS Architecture. Two and a half years in though, I realized that Art wasn’t a job that would give me joy, so I decided to see if maybe Science was my real calling. True enough, a general Chemistry class and food microbiology were all it took for me to confirm that I was in the right place – my happy place!

Fast forward to graduation and I found myself at a crossroads once again. Although I knew that science and research was my true passion, my parents would still prefer me to be involved in the business. In my heart, I knew that they would never just let me do research in UP for the rest of my life even if this was what would bring me the most fulfilment. Good thing the Management Trainee program of URC allowed me to hit two birds with one stone –on one hand, I would be able to do what I loved, spending my life using food science to come up with delicious food products that would last generations; on the other, I would be exposed to the business side of food manufacturing and given the chance to understand how the entire “machine” works. In a way, it’s like I was allowed to enroll on multiple short business and manufacturing courses AND was even given the chance to undergo on-

the-job training so that lessons would really STICK. In just 10 months of working under URC, I can say that I’ve really developed so much as a person because the

problems I’ve been exposed to here have really pushed me to constantly step out of my comfort zone and force me, again and again, to think more creatively, learn faster, and become bolder and braver with every step.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

I think yes. To be honest, I think that as long as you love to learn, and have a heart (and stomach) that welcomes (and embraces) challenge, then becoming a Management Trainee is something that you can do. Because the training program requires you to rotate through different roles, a big part of the job is really constantly having to understand NEW processes and learn terms and concepts that are unique to each department (and concepts you have absolutely NO BACKGROUND in). Sometimes, the learning curve is easy to overcome, but there will also be times that the learning curve is so high and everything is super foreign and confusing. In those instances, having resilience, determination, and an unrelenting spirit is the most essential – as long as you have those, you will be able to master anything and do the job well!

What's the coolest thing about your job?

I love how I came into URC with just food science in my mind, and 10 months in, I now have a rough (and much better) understanding of the things I need to do and the factors I need to consider to create a mini food manufacturing business. Because my true passion is in using food science to develop generational food products, I think it’s so cool that I’m becoming BETTER at doing what I love to do because I am ALLOWED to expose myself to the crucial departments involved in product launch and manufacturing – I, who only have a food science background and have zero knowledge in marketing, engineering, sales, and procurement, am being paid to learn so that I can become better at my passion.

What are the limitations of your job?

This job isn’t for someone who enjoys routinary, slow-paced work that spans over several years. Requirements are ever-changing, the pace is very fast, and there are times when you haven’t even understood what is needed of you but everyone is already moving on. Your brain will be in perpetual multitasking mode (i.e. you’re thinking of a million things and tasks to remember, always). The job is definitely not for someone who is easily frazzled or is discouraged by change—but if you ARE someone like that, but are wanting and/or willing to evolve, then you’ll DEFINITELY learn to overcome that in URC (speaking from experience hehe). Also, even if everything moves quickly in URC, everyone here is truly like family and so willing to help each other out and assist you when you’re starting to fall behind.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

I really only have one main piece of advice that I had as a student, and would give again if I ever went back to school: don’t just focus on getting good grades—make the effort to experience life, because it’s in experiencing life that you will learn how to become a master of yourself and develop what you need to succeed. It might sound cheesy, but it’s really true. Whether it is through joining orgs in school, volunteering in out-of-school programs, interning in interesting start-ups, or just exposing yourself to people outside your circle through sports or common hobbies, college is really the time to widen your horizon and take up responsibilities that will grow your skillset, network, empathy, and resilience. It was through orgs that I learned how to master excel and photoshop; who to run to for advice or who to partner up with in the future; how to deal with people of ALL TYPES of personalities and how to grow space in my heart to become understanding of those personalities; how to manage myself – to know when to rest, when to push; how to get up after a breakdown; how and when to be kind to myself. All of these things I KNOW I couldn’t possibly have learned if I had just focused on perfecting my tests and passing all my requirements.