Jean Spence - Kraft
Executive Vice President, Research, Development & Quality
Jean Spence is responsible for all product and packaging development, research, nutrition, quality, food safety and scientific affairs worldwide. Jean has been in this role since January 2004.
During her more than 25 years with the company, Jean has held a number of positions, including:
- Vice President, Worldwide Quality & Scientific Relations
- Group Director Research & Development, Beverages and Desserts
- Human Resources Manager (Director of Diversity)
Jean holds three U.S. and worldwide patents for her development work as a Research Engineer for Maxwell House coffee. Jean received a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Clarkson University and a Master of Engineering in Chemical Engineering from Manhattan College.
Why do you believe STEM Education and Workforce are important to our nation?
Innovation is critical for countries and companies to compete in the global economy. STEM fields help us to develop science that will become technology that translates into products that consumers around the world want. Since the U.S. only produces about 4% of the world’s engineers, we have to focus our public policy on ensuring we can remain competitive.
What can we do to assure more women leaders in STEM?
We can encourage girls to stay in math and science in grade school and high school. I have seen it first-hand at my daughter’s school: there is peer pressure that makes excelling in math and science difficult for girls. Programs in- and out-of-school that show girls that STEM can be fun need to be prioritized. And, showing girls there are visible role models every chance we can will also help.
Who is your STEM role model and why?
I have many! Leonardo da Vinci for his blending of engineering and art. Thomas Edison for his great contributions and work ethic. Marie Curie for being the first women Nobel Prize winner. And Sally Ride for being the first American astronaut.
Of what one initiative you are most proud?
Personally, my husband and I have funded a Professorship in Sustainability at our alma mater, Clarkson University. A great female chemical engineer, Susan Powers, is the recipient of it and we are proud to do our part in supporting our environment and a female STEM leader.
On the professional front, at Kraft Foods, we have supported efforts in diversity for many years. We have 10 employee resource groups, one of which I sponsor. In Research, Development & Quality globally, we have worked hard on diversity – and our results show it! 55% of our employees are women; including 43% of management. In the U.S., we’re focused on increasing the number of women and people of color; outside the U.S., we’re focused on increasing the representation of women. And I’m proud that Kraft Foods links executive incentive compensation to performance in furthering our open and inclusive environment.
How is your company innovating to promote STEM?
Kraft Foods works to promote STEM in our workplace and beyond. Most schools we recruit from have a STEM component in their curriculum. Our employee resource groups are active on high school and college campuses – not just recruiting talent -- but educating students on the opportunities that exist in related fields. And we partner with several diverse student groups on campuses to help mentor students.
For example, Kraft Foods mentors freshmen and sophomore students in the STEPUP program at the University of Florida’s College of Engineering by pairing them with our employees. They mentor students via monthly conference calls to give advice and discuss academic and professional development opportunities. We’ve also awarded a number of scholarships to under-represented groups in Chemical Engineering, Packaging Science and Food Science at several universities.