15 minutes with Joanne Kennedy

Joanne KennedySki season is upon us, which reminded Fi to check in on Joanne Kennedy, senior account executive for FONA International and recipient of the Woman of the Year Award from the Women in Flavor and Fragrance Commerce (WFFC). In her spare time, Kennedy likes to test her mettle by ski racing. Fi caught up with Kennedy to find out how her experiences on the slopes better prepare her for her job.

Fi: When you accepted your award at the WFFC, you quoted Einstein's phrase: "You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else." How does this apply to your recently being presented the WFFC award?

JK: I used the Einstein quote in reference to the WFFC. The organization is often complimented on the quality, depth and success of our programmes. People often ask, "Why are you so successful as a group?" There are many industry groups run by both men and women. While WFFC programmes are open to both genders, the board of directors and officers of the WFFC are only women. So, to the question, I would say that I am proud that a group that is run by women is held in such high regard in our industry. When the WFFC was founded 26 years ago, women didn't have as many opportunities for leadership roles in organizations as they do now. As women, we learned the rules of the game — how to create, manage and sustain a business group — and now we play it better than anyone else. As an example, our Open Dinner on September 25 drew more than 650 attendees.

Fi: One of your many passions is ski racing. What have you learned about competitive skiing that applies to your success in the flavours and fragrance industry?

JK: With regard to my ski racing, I would say that the common lesson in business and in sports is, if you want to improve, you have to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new. Although I had been skiing since I was a teenager, it was only a few years ago that I gave racing a try. The races are not set on difficult courses, and neither my competitors nor I are destined for anything more than local bragging rights. We are not talking World Cup downhill races here … these are mostly easy races on intermediate terrain, but there is nothing like a new personal best, a medal around your neck or a shiny trophy for your mantel. But just like in business, there is nothing like the thrill of victory! And, I must say, I've met a whole new circle of friends that is an inspiration in my life.

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