'Everyday Coaching' to inspire innovators in food industry

Food development and manufacturing are recognised as crucial sectors in the global economy. This means a sustained demand for graduates to fill vacancies. The SIT-Massey University Joint Degree programme in Food Technology trains students to be innovators and agents of change in the food industry.

Launched in 2016, the programme aims at empowering students with industry know-how through its strong emphasis on food science fundamentals and applied food technology skills. Students will learn how to apply scientific and engineering principles, as well as to recognise and create what is needed in the marketplace. They will also gain the entrepreneurial skills to bring new ideas to the consumer successfully.

It was a calling for Associate Professor Lim Bee Gim when she moved from industry to academia to helm the Bachelor of Food Technology programme. While the transition could seem daunting to some, this career switch has been a natural process for her.

A/Prof Lim is no stranger to imparting knowledge and skills. She has conducted many training seminars on topics ranging from product mastery to statistical process control during her 20-year stint in F&B giant, Nestlé. Thus, the applied learning curriculum that SIT adopts is a good fit for A/Prof Lim who finds fulfilment particularly when her seminars bring about new concepts and ideas that resulted in improved manufacturing performance, reduced quality defects and enhanced team morale.

Eager to impart knowledge to her students, A/Prof Lim shares, “I enjoy the work of aligning curriculum to industry needs. My years of R&D and manufacturing experiences allow me to value add in the area of manufacturing competencies; from product design to process development, quality management and regulatory compliances.”

Yet, A/Prof Lim does not believe in spoon-feeding model answers to students. In line with SIT’s mission, A/Prof Lim is a firm believer in the ‘Everyday Coaching (EDC) model’. This self-motivation doctrine encourages leaders to be active listeners and inspires employees to find their own solutions. A/Prof Lim hopes to apply the same model in her teaching to create a positive learning environment for students.

A/Prof Lim also resonates with Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) that “beyond teaching, ‘teachers’ mentor, guide, encourage and nurture the students. They share their life and career experiences with the students”. She hopes to be an inspiration for students and help them develop problem-solving and decision-making skills. “We have to move away from a culture where lecturers provide all the solutions, to a culture where students find their own solutions. I believe it will help both lecturers and students unlock their potential, maximise their performance, as well as impact their development more powerfully than conventional knowledge transfer.”

To prepare students to face challenges in their future employment, A/Prof Lim strongly advocates working on team projects so that students are given opportunities to effectively collaborate as a team. By working on projects featuring real problems faced by the industry, students can apply the knowledge they have learnt in class, and at the same time sharpen their problem-solving skills and get a glimpse of what to expect when they join the work force.

This article was adapted from The Singapore Engineers September 2017 publication with the permission of The Institution of Engineers, Singapore.