Your University magazine 2022-23

Page 32

IN PROFILE EXPLORING OUR WORLDWIDE NETWORK OF ALUMNI

DR KAVITA KARNIK MSc Human Nutrition 2001, PhD 2004 Global Head of Nutrition, Regulatory and Scientific Affairs, Tate & Lyle, London

I first discovered my passion for nutrition while I was studying medicine in India. I realised that the medical profession knows very little about nutrition and food and the role it plays in patient outcomes. I did a diploma in nutrition within my studies and absolutely loved it. Following graduation, I was looking for opportunities to continue my career in that direction. The course at Sheffield appealed to me because it would allow me to keep my career options open. The University shared lots of helpful information with me; they never tired of my questions and they understood my needs. That experience made the choice easy! When I left for Sheffield, it was my first time leaving India and my first time on a plane. Everyone I met was immensely welcoming and friendly. I remember during the first Christmas holidays, I couldn’t afford to go home and the Departmental Secretary was kind enough to invite me to a Christmas Eve meal at her home. Of course, there were challenges – understanding the accent was one! 32 YOUR UNIVERSITY | 2022/2023

But I loved the city and I made lifelong friends there, many of whom I have since visited in their own home countries. I planned to complete my master’s and then go home to India. That never happened – I stayed on at Sheffield to do my PhD and 23 years later, I’m still in the UK! Academically, the support I got from the University was fabulous. My supervisor, Professor Richard Eastell, gave me intellectual freedom and pushed me to be my best. He encouraged me to speak at international conferences, always reminding me that I knew my subject better than anyone else in the room, which gave me a huge amount of confidence. I keep that in mind even now whenever I give high-profile presentations. The soft skills I gained during my time in Sheffield have been the foundation of my career ever since. I now lead nutrition and regulatory affairs at Tate & Lyle. Many people will recognise the name from the sugar brand, but we actually sold the sugar business over a decade ago and are now a food ingredients company that

supports healthy living through the science of food. I head up the nutrition department, which conducts human research and health claims research, as well as being responsible for the regulatory affairs team, which is essential to the running of our business. I also lead the Nutrition Centre, a digital platform that showcases our science through infographics, blogs, podcasts and more. Our aim is to educate not just on our ingredients but on overall issues in nutrition. It’s a very varied job and no two days are the same. One of the most fulfilling aspects is seeing our ingredients in products on the shelf in the supermarket, and knowing that I have helped produce healthier, tastier food that supports better public health. I’ve also had the opportunity to hire and mentor early career stage nutrition scientists, which is immensely rewarding.

ILLUSTRATIONS: VERONICA PEREZ

Dr Kavita Karnik had never left her home country of India before making the move to Sheffield to pursue her studies in nutrition. She has gone on to have a remarkable career in food science and nutrition, previously holding global roles in Unilever, Pfizer and Nestlé as well as academic research positions in the UK and India. Now the Global Head of Nutrition, Regulatory and Scientific Affairs for Tate & Lyle, Kavita is playing a vital role in the development of healthier, tastier ingredients and contributing to better public health.