Monday, October 25, 2021

Employee Spotlight: Getting to know Boon Lee

Schwan’s Company’s “Employee Spotlights” are a series of stories that celebrate our team’s talent and feature the people who make the company a great place to work.

Oct. 25, 2021 — At Schwan’s Company, we believe in celebrating the unique experiences, skills and perspectives that our team members bring to the table to help make our company successful. One of those team members is Senior Director of Strategy & Insights Boon Lee, who says in her career she is passionate about developing better solutions for the company and its customers.

“I am passionate about challenging the status quo and developing better solutions through collective insights,” Boon said. “I am a strong believer of constructive confrontation, and I’d like to continue to bring in different perspectives and collaborate with my Schwan’s colleagues to develop actionable strategies to achieve (CJ CheilJedang’s) vision to become the No. 1 global food company.”

Boon joined the Schwan’s Company team after CJ CheilJedang Corporation (CJCJ) acquired a majority stake in the business in 2019. She first joined CJCJ in 2018 and worked previously as a consultant. In her current role, she leads and supports the company’s corporate-level strategic agenda and innovation efforts, focusing on mid- to long-term timeframes.

In a recent interview, Boon shared more about her role and why she is excited to be a part of this journey.

Q: What do you like about working for CJCJ and its affiliates?

A: I like CJCJ’s vision and leadership to become No. 1 in whichever industry it is doing business in. Over the past several years, as a consumer and as a consultant, I have seen CJCJ pursue its aspirations to grow and become the industry leader in Korea. Now, I am excited to be a part of its journey to grow beyond Korea and become the global No. 1 company.

Q: What are your hobbies and activities when you are not working?

A: I am interested in culture and art. Outside of work, I enjoy spending time at museums, theaters and orchestras, which has been paused for a while due to the pandemic. I also love food, wine, beer and coffee. I find that the craft beer scene in Minnesota is exciting, and it has become my new hobby to check out new breweries. I’m also interested in exploring ideas for food and wine pairings.

One of my favorite recommendations for food pairing is kimchi and cheese. Kimchi goes really well with sharp and hard cheeses like cheddar, Grana Padano or parmesan. I recommend trying it with crisp white wine like a Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris, or Riesling if you’re having spicy kimchi.

Q: What is a typical day like in your role?

A: It is hard to describe a “typical day” in my role. It varies depending on projects that I work on. It usually involves a lot of meetings and discussions with cross-functional teams as well as product cuttings, which I don’t mind at all!

Q: What do our company’s vision and values mean to you? How do you demonstrate them in your day-to-day work?

A: CJCJ’s vision is the reason why I chose to join the company. Throughout my career, I’ve aspired to contribute and bring additional value to people’s lives. And, I’ve found that CJ’s vision to “inspire a new life of health, happiness and convenience” is well-aligned with my career aspirations.

CJCJ’s core values are well-aligned with how I want to work through my career. Among all, “OnlyOne” is my favorite part, and I continuously challenge myself to bring in the first, best and/or different perspective to the projects that I’m working on.

Q: What are some of your highest career achievements?

A: Before joining CJCJ, I took a break from the corporate world and worked as a freelance consultant for a year, which gave me an opportunity to attend “reThink Food 2017” conference hosted by CIA (Culinary Institute of America). I was deeply impressed by the thought leadership in the food ecosystem in the U.S. and ended up writing a 12-chapter article about the future of food and industry leadership, which was published by a digital publication platform in Korea. It was a great opportunity for me to deep-dive key trends in consumer, innovation, technology and ecosystem, and it has led me to this opportunity with CJCJ and Schwan’s, and it’s been the most exciting time in my career!

Q: What intrigues you about the U.S. food market?

A: The frozen-food aisle is getting a new spotlight, especially among younger generations who are more open to try global foods. The pandemic has been accelerating this trend and reinvigorating the frozen category. I am really excited to discover a lot of future growth opportunities for us.

Q: What is something about yourself that most people do not know?

A: I was a visiting professor at a culinary school while studying for the certified sommelier exam. I have a genuine interest in food and wine, and I thought it would be fun to work in the culinary field. Although it was an interesting exploration, I realized that I rather keep food and wine as a pleasure in my free time and not for business.

Q: What is your favorite company product?

A: I love Freschetta® Thin Crust Garden Veggie! It is a great pairing with lighter red wine. Edwards® Strawberry Cream Pie is my new favorite. I keep it in my freezer and enjoy it frozen instead of ice cream. I also like Bibigo® Chicken and Cilantro Mini Wontons. I find them very versatile to add to salad, soup or just as it is! There will be more innovations coming in and my list will continuously expand.

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