15 Feb BEMA Board Spotlight: Jason Ward
Jason Ward, President
Company: AMF Bakery Systems
Q: What got you into the baking industry?
A: I worked for several years in a global ingredients business serving the broader food industry but with many customers in the baking industry. I was based at the time in Richmond, VA and when an opportunity to join AMF and focus only on the baking industry emerged, I jumped right in.
Q: Why do you love the business of baking?
A: There is no industry quite like this one. I worked in consulting early in my career and was exposed to many different industries and I have never seen the combination of passion, deep personal relationships, and long-term commitment to equal what we have in the baking industry. After my first year at AMF, I felt like I knew almost all of the key people because the industry is so interconnected and welcoming. BEMA is a huge part of creating and nurturing these connections and plays such an important role for new folks learning how amazing the business of baking really is.
Q: Who do you consider a mentor in the industry? Who has made an impact on your career?
A: Many people at Cargill helped me develop a love for the science of baking, understanding ingredient formulation, and how to make quality products at an industrial scale. Once I moved from ingredients to automation, I have benefited from the support and knowledge of so many baker customers who have helped me see the baking process through their eyes. I have never walked a line with a baker and not come away with great insight and learning. There are also more AMF teammates than I can name who have invested their time sharing their knowledge of the baking process and our solutions to automate that process. Ken Newsome in particular has been an incredible mentor for me and I have benefited enormously from his leadership.
Q: What goals do you have for your board membership tenure?
A: It is all about having an impact and giving back to this industry. Providing education and connecting the baking industry is at the center of BEMA’s mission and there are so many ways to support both objectives as a board member. I will continue to find ways to strengthen BEMA’s leadership role as a hub of knowledge, resources, and relationships in our industry and by strengthening the value we bring to our members in these areas, we strengthen the baking industry itself.
Q: What trend are you most excited about in the baking industry right now?
A: Digital transformation and Sustainability are two trends that will be front and center in our industry for years to come. Determining how to apply technologies such as AI, machine learning, and data science in ways that provide clear, measurable value to industrial bakers will be a great area of opportunity and challenge. And driving the entire bakery supply chain to a more sustainable future will also continue to grow in importance.
Q: What was your favorite baked good as a kid, and now?
A: My first memory in life is waking up to an extraordinary smell in my great-grandmother’s home in Asheville, NC. She was baking scratch buttermilk biscuits in her tiny kitchen and it is still just about the best thing I smelled or tasted in my life! These days, give me a fresh-baked brioche bun (made on an AMF system) on a juicy cheeseburger and I am a very happy man.