Aaron, Research & Development Specialist

What is your position here at Ghirardelli and what do you do?

I work in the Research and Development (R&D) Department as the R&D Sensory Specialist. My main role is to ensure that our consumers enjoy our products by testing them with a representative consumer group. If consumers do not like the product, then it is my job to determine what they do not like, why, and how to improve the product. As a sensory specialist, I am the liaison between our consumers, our product, and the cross-functional teams such as Product Development, Marketing, and Professional Products Division.

How has Ghirardelli helped you in your career development?

Ghirardelli has provided me with many opportunities for personal and professional growth. I was a bit overwhelmed coming to Ghirardelli right out of college, but everyone at Ghirardelli made sure that I was comfortable and confident with my responsibilities as a sensory scientist by providing a balanced hands-on 30-60-90 day onboarding experience. More importantly, Ghirardelli created a yearlong structured plan for me to grow into a Chocolate Technologist. The abundance of cross-functional support and resources significantly accelerated my growth as an R&D technologist. Being surrounded by highly talented research scientists, I was able to quickly learn and thoroughly practice the product development aspects and come up with my own “confection creation”. To accomplish all of this within one year was an awesome experience!

If you could switch your job with anyone else within Ghirardelli whose job would you want?

I love my job at the moment and I wouldn’t want to switch positions, but instead I would like to grow in my area of responsibilities and become a subject matter expert.

What advice do you have for a prospective candidate considering Ghirardelli?

My advice for prospective candidates would be to explore potential growth opportunities within GCC; whether the growth you are seeking is vertical or horizontal. If you are willing to learn and grow horizontally with multiple stretch opportunities, then Ghirardelli is the place for you.

What drew you to Ghirardelli originally and what has changed since?

The opportunity to learn and stretch my abilities as a product developer was what initially drew me to Ghirardelli. After a full year with Ghirardelli, I am still continuing to learn and grow as an individual and a scientist every day. Since I have been with Ghirardelli, I realized that the sense of family within the R&D team and the constant challenging projects we work on, are the reasons I enjoy my job. I could be doing the exact same job at a different company, but the respect, support, and trust our team has for each other is what makes Ghirardelli stand out. We are constantly inspired by each other’s creativity, knowledge, and willingness to learn and grow. Being the “new kid on the block”, I realized that I cannot do everything on my own, but instead I should lean on my teammates and play to their strengths when I need help. The drive to learn and share our knowledge, the willingness to collaborate, and openness to supporting each other is what I think makes our R&D team so special.

What is your proudest moment at Ghirardelli?

I have two experiences at Ghirardelli that have been my proudest. The first is when we conduct sensory studies at Ghirardelli Square to gather consumer opinions about our products. It is immensely satisfying to see our consumers enjoying our products first-hand! I can’t help but smile when consumers excitedly ask me, “Can I have some more?” or “When will this product come out in the stores?” My proudest personal moment at Ghirardelli was developing my own new chocolate flavor. The flavor is … gotcha, it’s confidential :P. Developing my own tangible product from a mere idea is one of the most rewarding accomplishments, even if the product may never hit the store shelves. As one of my stretch assignments, I had to ideate and develop a product that would fit within the Ghirardelli brand, so after playing around with multiple flavors an inclusions, I came up with the perfect combination. Developing my own product from scratch brought out not only my technical skills, but also my creativity and problem-solving skills to the forefront of my work.