As one of the founders of EnWave, Dr Durance has more than 30 years’ experience in the processed food industry and is the co-inventor of the company's Radiant Energy Vacuum (REV) technology.
What do you do?
EnWave Corporation offers proprietary, industrial-scale vacuum-microwave dehydration technology for commercial applications in the food and pharmaceutical industries. I oversee and manage the manufacturing, sales and R&D functions through four directors.
How did you get into the industry?
I started my career as a scientist, originally a microbiologist who specialized in the food industry and transitioned to academia. I spent 25 years at the University of British Columbia (UBC) as a professor of Food Science, specializing in Food Processing. It was there where I developed EnWave’s Radiant Energy Vacuum (REV) technology, a form of vacuum drying that utilizes microwave energy for rapid, economical dehydration at low temperatures.
What do you like most about your job?
The thrill of being at the forefront of new innovation is exhilarating. Also, working as part of a team that uses technology to bring products to market, especially food products, is satisfying. I love the process of successfully advancing a concept to an actual commercial product being sold to consumers.
What's the hardest thing about your job?
I find human resource issues the most challenging. As with any company, personnel issues can cause unforeseen obstacles, but those obstacles can always be overcome.
Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?
I usually start my work day by responding to emails and fielding enquiries for the first few hours. That is followed by scheduled meetings with one or more of the directors who report to me. I typically conduct a number of conference calls with customers. EnWave does a lot of product development work for its customers. If I’m lucky I get to spend an hour or two in the lab or pilot plant contributing to the development of our latest products.
What advice would you give people interested in a job in your field?
Find a way to work with other motivated and intelligent people in the field that interests you; even if the pay is miserable.
If you could have one 'do-over' in your career, what would that be?
In hindsight some of the challenges that were met could have been met far sooner if a few short cuts had been found, but basically I am happy with my career progress to date.
Has working in the food industry made you watch your diet more carefully?
At UBC I worked with many nutritionists and food safety scientists, who taught me what to worry about and what not to worry about. Often the ‘hot button’ food issues that are reported in the mainstream media are not likely to benefit you greatly or bring you grief. I consume a balanced diet, watch my weight, exercise frequently and do my best to avoid food borne disease. I don’t make dietary decisions based on whether or not the food is organic, has been exposed to chemical toxins, or how far the food has travelled to my plate.
What do you see as the top trend in five years’ time?
Healthy or natural ‘grab and go’ food products will be one of the top trends in five years’ time. People in the western world will continue to be extremely busy, but they are becoming more and more conscious of what they are consuming and healthy ‘grab and go’ snack options, I think, will capitalize on these situational factors.