Wayne, New Jersey | Distinguished Ag Alumni: 2003
An only child, Sharrann Simmons appreciated the value of personal connections at a young age. The Merrillville native lost her mother as a child, and her father died when she was a senior at Purdue. Comfort, Simmons says, came through reaching out to others.
“I have a 90-year-old aunt who lives in Atlanta, and I’ve visited her at Christmas every year since I graduated from Purdue,” says Simmons, who maintains many friendships from her college days. “I also spend a lot of time with friends, wherever they live.”
Distance is an enticement, rather than a deterrent, Simmons insists. “Travel is a passion of mine,” she says, “and if I have the chance to fly to London or Paris for a weekend, I’ll take it every time. I’ve always been open to new opportunities, and I love the exposure to people of other cultures. I’m not skilled in foreign language at all, but I’ve found if you make the effort to extend yourself, it’s an easy barrier to overcome.”
Simmons lived in Brussels for five years, and, next to Indiana, considers the eclectic and charming city a “second home.” She also ranks China, Japan, and Brazil among her top destinations.
Relatively closer to home, Simmons extends herself to underprivileged women through “Dress For Success” and—true to form—fosters friendships along the way. “The program focuses on helping women get appropriate business wear and the coaching they need for interviews,” Simmons says. “Some women don’t even know what the word ‘résumé’ means, and, without our help, they’d never find a full time job.
“It’s very rewarding to put some of my training to work for women who are less fortunate. And it’s wonderful to stay in touch and to hear about their successes.”
1977 B.S., Food Science, Purdue University
1978 M.S., Food Science, Purdue University
1978-1981 National Technical Service Representative/Food Technologist, Durkee Foods
1981-1982 Food Technologist, L.S. Heath & Sons
1982-1986 Technical Service Manager, Bunge Edible Oil Corporation
1985-1987 Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University
1986-1988 Food Service and Bakery Sales Manager, Bunge Edible Oil Corporation
1988-1989 Technical Sales Representative, FMC Corporation
1989-1990 Senior Technical Sales Representative, FMC Corporation
1990-1993 Product Manager, Specialty Excipients, FMC Corporation
1993-1995 Global Commercial Development Manager, FMC Corporation
1995-1999 European Food Marketing Director, FMC Corporation
1999-2001 Director of Food Sales, North America, FMC Corporation
2001-2002 Vice President, Marketing & Product Development, International Specialty Products
2002-present Vice President & General Manager, Colloides Naturels International, France
“Starting my first job, I felt very competent and well prepared, technically. Purdue’s Food Science program is very closely aligned with the food processing industry, and that affiliation affects everything from student grants to career placement.”