Spend any amount of time with Jill Stuber and Tia Glave, and you’d be sure that they’ve known each other for years. (It’s been less than two years, and they didn’t meet in person until June 2022.)
Spend a little more time with them, and you realize how brilliant they both are about food safety, quality and, most importantly, people. They co-founded Catalyst, LLC, late last year to bring that brilliance to food safety and quality assurance professionals who need coaching on their processes, leadership skills and career goals.
“I like what Tia does, and she likes what I do. And we said, ‘We should totally do this together,’” said Stuber, who has worked at Land O’ Lakes, Gold’n Plump Co. and Merieux NutriSciences. “‘We should actually form a company and be in it together.’”
We caught up with Stuber and Glave, who previously worked at Milk Bar, Plated and General Mills, to talk about Catalyst, community building and more.
Tia Glave: When you’re thinking about leadership and how to incorporate food safety and quality into a business plan or into your overall business goals, your food safety and quality leader has to understand how those two work together and be able to integrate those things together. The way that you get that work done should be strategic according to the product you have and the type of growth that you want to see. I really wanted to help organizations understand that, but I took it for granted that I had these leadership qualities — that I can have those conversations with a senior leadership team, that I can help influence others. But I realized people don’t always know to do that! They don’t know how to do that. With Jill, that is the missing piece where I had to help people build those leadership skills first and then be able to have those conversations with their organizations around food safety strategy.
Jill Stuber: I’m the peanut butter to your jelly! I knew the part that Tia was doing was really the next step. I was kind of working on the initial leadership coaching piece but knew that people would need to go to the next step. Who’s running the show? What is our actual strategy? How are we setting up our team? What does it organizationally look like? We get to help people through this entire journey — not just this stage or that stage. We encompass the whole thing.
TG: One of the things that we do first, no matter who it is, is we figure out where they are on their food safety journey. We actually just rolled out a food safety culture assessment that helps answer a lot of the questions. We follow a maturity model that looks at where you are and where you want to go next. For someone like Pink Sauce creator Chef Pii, she is at what we call compliance. That’s really the first step in the journey where she just needs to make sure she’s checking all the compliance pieces — she needs to figure out how to protect her food so that people can even discover who she is. As you grow your organization, you’re no longer just selling by yourself; now maybe you want to be in Target and Whole Foods. OK, where do you need to go next in the maturity model, and what do you need to do to get there? How does that change your food safety and quality strategy? Eventually, you’re getting to the point where you have it from a compliance standpoint; you have it from a program standpoint. You might need to continue building your policies and adding gaps, but now you need to start thinking about your people, and how do I take care of my people?
QA: You’re going to be rolling out some programs around building people up as technical leaders. Why is that important?JS: We’ve been there. We know there isn’t targeted development to grow as a technical leader. It’s not just, Gosh, I took this, and now I don’t have anything to help me get to the next level. We want to help you move through those stages because that’s the only way, collectively, that we’re going to have people have all the right skills to lead food safety. We know the path from knowing to doing is long. That’s why coaching is the key to help people stay on that path to success.
TG: We really are a partner for organizations through the life of their business and as they’re on the journey of food safety, which is never-ending. Our goal is to be able to provide holistic programs for organizations so that we can be that trusted partner for food safety in all aspects, whether that’s technical support or coaching or leadership development. We’re here to help strengthen your food safety quality team and leaders so that they can be trusted business partners in the organization.
JS: The goal is really, how do we help create a community, so people know that they’re not alone when they’re thinking about going forward? Tia and I are really looking at our involvement in industry groups. It seems like wherever we go, that just seems to be part of who we are and what we bring — how do we get more people engaged and participating? And Tia does that through the Black Food Safety Professionals Group. I think outside of just doing business, there are these little areas that we’re exploring to support more people.
TG: I hadn’t really thought about it in this way of building community, but we are, and it’s something that we love to do. If we had to share a Catalyst three-year plan or goal, it’s for us to connect even more broadly to other coaches — maybe not even in the food safety and quality space. Is there a Catalyst convention or a conference out there where we create that community where we can share with one another?
JS: It’s down the road!
Latest from Quality Assurance & Food Safety
- McCloud Services’ Pest Invasion Food Safety Set for April 4-5
- FDA Proposes Redesign of Human Foods Program
- Statement from International Dairy Foods Association on Proposed Changes to the FDA Human Foods Program
- AFDO Reacts to FDA Commissioner's Human Foods Proposal
- International Fresh Produce Association Supports FDA Announcement; Awaits More Details
- Upright Brooms by Perfex
- FDA Announces Action Levels for Lead in Categories of Processed Baby Foods
- Tara Stroud Joins Highland Ag Solutions as Director of Customer Success