Joseph Hildebrand: NCFIL's New Pilot Plant Manager
May 15, 2020
New NCFIL Team Member Joseph Hildebrand knows what it’s like to be on a hard-working team and to serve others. Joe plays rugby, a game that teaches perseverance, and he is an Eagle Scout, an honor earned by serving others. So, Joe is the perfect fit for NCFIL—he is a researcher who never gives up in order to better serve his community.
Team Player Returns Home
Joe joins NCFIL as its Pilot Plant Manager. Becoming a NCFIL team member is a homecoming of sorts for him, not only because he was raised in North Carolina, but he also has two degrees from NC State University. Joe will manage the Pilot Plant and its equipment, leading daily operations for production, planning and execution. Focusing on his clients—helping them evaluate what they want to do and how NCFIL can facilitate that vision—ranks as one of his top priorities.
Pilot Plant Manager Responsibilities
Additional responsibilities of the Pilot Plant Manager include:
- Staying up-to-date on production methods
- Paying attention to legacy and new technologies
- Being open to trying new things and new collaborations
- Maintaining safety and quality, conducting self-audits
- Conducting practices in accordance with the FDA + cGMP
Joe finds himself in a unique position, starting a job during the coronavirus quarantine, but he’s been busy nonetheless. Executive Director Dr. Bill Aimutis has him reviewing relevant articles, an equipment list and subsequent manuals; this preparation enables him to hit the ground running once the lab re-opens. Joe, Bill and other NCFIL team members have also worked internally on the lab’s phased reopening plans.
Building Research + Management Experience
Joe brings knowledge and experience to NCFIL. After graduating from NC State with a biochemistry degree, he worked for Pfizer as a fermentation scientist focused on vaccine development, giving him a foundation in fundamental research and the intense required documentation. Moving from biological to material science, Joe made LEDs in his next job with Cree. This position shared the same scale-up philosophy as his first job, yet the visual, hands-on work really brought R&D to life. As Shift Lead, Joe honed his management skills.
Next, Joe earned his Masters in Food Science at NC State with a focus on fermentation. He then joined Pepsi-Co’s Brand Stewardship Group in New York and worked internationally, reformulating carbonated beverages. Team highlights include qualifying a new flavor facility in Singapore and conducting scale-up runs in Saudi Arabia. Following the Pepsi-Lipton partnership, Joe worked on Pure Leaf products, including the Herbal and Cold Brew lines. For Joe, seeing his developed products in the marketplace is exhilarating.
Motivated by NCFIL Potential
Excited by NCFIL’s mission, Joe believes the lab will impact the food science body of knowledge as well as have a statewide, national and international economic impact. He sees NCFIL growing North Carolina as a food research and manufacturing destination by providing researchers and clients an outlet for creativity and production. The lab’s flexibility enables users to focus on optimizing existing processes or developing new processes outside of the norm.
According to Joe, perhaps NCFIL’s greatest benefit will be in conducting research and converting it to usable products that influence the food chain, food supply and most importantly, human health.
Persevere + Serve
Rugby teaches you to take a hit, get up and keep going. Research is not much different—you try out an idea, and if it doesn’t work, you seek a new way to test. An Eagle Scout distinction instills a sense of service to others. Similarly, research seeks to solve problems for the betterment of others.
As both rugby player and Eagle Scout, Joe possesses the drive to succeed and the will to serve, the perfect temperament for a strong NCFIL leader. He’s ready to roll up his sleeves and get started.