For many, Canada is a land of opportunities and new beginnings.
For Fatema Bastawala, it’s where she found her career path in the food and beverage processing industry.
Before coming to Canada, Bastawala completed her bachelor’s degree in India in food, microbiology and biotechnology.
“I was a certified medical technologist, but I felt something was missing after working at the hospital. So, I decided to take a trip to a different country and do something new and exciting,” she said, in a previous episode of the FoodGrads Podcast. “I came across the biotechnology course and enjoyed it, but after working in the food industry, I started developing a massive interest.”
Bastawala attended the University of Toronto, which also included a bridge program to Centennial College’s post-graduate diploma in advanced biotechnology.
Centennial’s program enhanced her knowledge, technical skills and communication skills. Though the true standout which helped Bastawala career was that Centennial offered access to co-operative placements. It was through her co-ops that she discovered her love for Ontario’s food and beverage processing industry.
She underwent two co-op placements, one as a lab technician/reaching assistant (chemistry department) at Centennial College itself and another as a laboratory support technician at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
“During my co-op at CFIA I learned amazing things about the world of food, and that helped me to learn innovative things about food. I [also] did a lot of courses when I was at the CFIA in my co-op,” said Bastawala. “All of my [knowledge] on regulations and my foundational [knowledge] were pretty strong because of working at the CFIA. The CFIA was a great workplace where they actually give students a chance to take courses.”
After graduation Bastawala used this knowledge to propel her career and become a quality assurance technician and HACCP coordinator at Toppits, an importer and supplier of frozen foods to the Canadian food service, retail and manufacturing industries, specializing in seafood.
In this role, she was responsible for ensuring the quality and safety of frozen seafood products. This included checking if the fish were free of listeria and salmonella and followed quality standards like the correct texture, aroma, and colour. Her role allowed her to wear a lot of hats and learn how to problem solve when issues came up in the food industry.
Bastawala said one of the reasons why she loves working in the food and beverage processing industry is seeing people enjoy the products she helps bring to market.
“I love what I do like I honestly love every second of it,” she said. “[There’s this feeling when] you are looking at the flyer and suddenly you see Toppits, and you are like ‘oh this is my product’… I’m so happy to look at it on the shelves, and people are taking it, and people are buying.”
Today Bastawala works as a Corporate Quality & Technical Manager at the meal service company Hello Fresh.
Want to learn more about Bastawala ‘s story and the approach she takes to problem solve in processing facilities? Then check out the full story on episode 17 of the FoodGrads Podcast! Listen to the full episode below or wherever you get your podcasts!
The FoodGrads Podcast has over 50 episodes where host Veronica Hislop interviews insights from professionals at all stages in their careers.
From Food Scientists to Farmers, Chefs to the Plant, QA Technicians to Dietitians, R&D to Sales, no matter what your passion–there’s something for everyone in food.
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