Who better to hear from about what it's like to work at Dunkin' Brands than from actual Dunkin' Brands employees? We recently chatted (virtually over a scoop of ice cream, of course) with Senior Research & Development (R&D) Technologist Hanna to hear more about her Dunkin' Brands experience and her role on the Baskin-Robbins R&D team.
Q: We'll start with everyone’s favorite question: What are you drinkin’ & what are you scooping?
I’m drinkin’ Dark Roast with skim milk and a Vanilla Flavor Shot. I also love trying all of the different seasonal and limited time offer swirls available in our cafeteria as a treat.
Since it’s my job to create a lot of the flavors, it’s always hard to choose a favorite ice cream flavor. The Baskin R&D team always says: “We love all of our children!” We have some upcoming flavors that I am really excited about and can’t share yet, but my longtime go-to is Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your background?
I received my bachelor’s degree in Food Science from Rutgers University and started at Dunkin’ Brands as a Senior Technologist in December 2018. Prior to joining Dunkin’ Brands, I worked at an ingredients solutions company in New Jersey for six years.
Q: Can you tell us about a memorable moment at Dunkin’ Brands?
During my interview process, I was asked to put together a presentation on modernizing the no sugar-added ice cream—a very memorable moment! That was the first time I’ve ever been asked to present as a part of my interview process. It was a bit daunting at first, but it helped me realize how much I really wanted the job after putting so much work, passion, and energy into the presentation.
Q: What exactly do you do as a Senior R&D Technologist?
I live, breathe, and sleep ice cream! I am a part of a team of five that focuses on Baskin-Robbins ice cream flavors. I am responsible for the international Flavor of the Month calendar and work closely with my U.S. counterpart if the flavors overlap. I am also in charge of new mix development, which means I work on creating new ice cream bases for our ice cream flavors. I’ve had a hand in participating in a number of unique opportunities and Baskin-Robbins initiatives such as the brand’s partnership with the Netflix show, “Stranger Things.” I’ve also helped develop our next generation of non-dairy ice cream, and have travelled to L.A. for influencer events to showcase our products. I love working in a fast-paced environment that also provides me with so many unique opportunities!
Q: Each job has its challenges, what would you say are some challenges that you face in your role?
Unlike others, our ice cream needs to be scoop-able right out of the dipping cabinet, so that adds a layer of complexity to my work. However, that’s where my science background comes in handy, and I evaluate how different ingredients interact with each other in order to create a great tasting base.
When working on our international products, I always need to consider the different regulations that we have to meet—and there are a lot of them! On top of that, I also have to think about how the flavor will fare depending on which country it will be released in. For example, if we were to release a new flavor in Japan, Korea, the Middle East, Australia, and Malaysia, it’s very likely that each country will have a drastically different reaction to that flavor. So I’m always asking myself how the flavor will do in a particular country.
Q: What do you love most about your job?
Where to begin? I obviously love the work perks we have and try to take advantage of as many as possible! I think Dunkin’ Brands has a great work-life balance; I try to visit our onsite fitness center twice a week and attend group classes. My favorite perk of all is our year-round early release Fridays! For my role specifically, I have the ability to be creative and play around in the kitchen every day! Not many people can say that about their job. One event that I look forward to every year is the Annual Flavor Summit, a big meeting with suppliers to innovate and see new concepts. Last year, the summit was in Philadelphia and I got to tour the city and taste different ice creams and desserts (yum!).
Q: How has your experience been working from home the past few weeks?
Working from home definitely has had its pros and cons. I am itching to get back into the lab but definitely feel the support of my team with our daily video calls. I have gotten creative and rearranged our dining room to be my new office (my husband is using our desk for his work from home space) and have even had samples sent to my house for evaluation. My husband and I also recently adopted a new puppy and are thankful to have the time at home to train her.
Q: What does #MakinItWorkTogether mean to you?
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on a lot of uncertainty and, while this is sometimes unsettling and scary, knowing that we are doing our part to social distance and seeing the support Dunkin’ Brands has provided to employees and franchisees has been encouraging.
The real bright spot is the support our team is providing each other. Even though we are socially distant, I feel like this has brought our teams closer together. We have virtual happy hours where more people are able to join by virtually dropping in and saying “hi”. We get to see coworkers who live in different parts of the U.S. who I would normally only see at big meetings or events. Everyone’s pets and family members also pop in to say hi from time to time. We have all had to adjust the way we work with the uncertain times, but we have all been working hard to do so together.
Q: And finally, what does #dunkinbrandslife mean to you?
#dunkinbrandslife means you get to be creative. You’re invested in industry trends and what’s in the market, so you really get to learn and grow daily. My #dunkinbrandslife is never dull since it’s filled with unique and exciting opportunities!