Meet John Satumba
Director, Global Edible Oil Solutions Research & Development (North America)
John has been a part of Cargill for 17 years, but don’t tell him – he’s having so much fun it feels like he just started. Before joining Cargill, he traveled many paths, including earning a Ph.D. in chemistry and conducting post-doctoral research at St. Jude’s in Memphis, Tennessee. He even attended business school after beginning his career. Throughout it all, one constant has remained: a curious mind and a passion for monetizing scientific pursuits.
His first role at Cargill was as a senior research scientist for the department now called Global Core R&D, working on enabling technologies that support product development in proteins, lipids and sweeteners. Since then, he has taken on multiple roles, from project management to customer-facing technical services, to leading teams of analytical chemists and application scientists. In his current role, he leads the North America R&D organization for Global Edible Oils and the Global Bakery Technical division with several teams covering various R&D specialties from idea to implementation.
He credits several mentors who have become a second family for playing significant roles in his non-traditional career path. John has also become a valuable mentor for the next generation of R&D at Cargill.
What made you choose Cargill?
Believe it or not, Cargill was not originally on my radar. I learned of it through a personal connection who worked here and felt my skills and values would make a great fit. Cargill and I believe in using our abilities and resources for the greater good. Although my path here hasn’t been traditional, it has been the culmination of everything I have done along the way, from my Ph.D. in chemistry to my time at St. Jude’s and everything else.
What are you looking to accomplish as you progress in your career with Cargill?
I’m very excited about seeing other people grow in their careers. Mentorship has played a significant role in my career, and I value the opportunity to pay it forward. I’m also looking to influence business strategy and see products in the marketplace that our team has worked on. Our department covers all of North America, from customer-facing personnel to product developers and engineers. There’s nothing like seeing something evolve from an idea in one of our meetings to a product on store shelves everywhere.
What aspects of Cargill’s culture set it apart from other companies?
The values the company has and how we put people first. Values like doing the right thing, reaching higher to make your mark and striving to have a meaningful impact on our world are lived out every day. I always tell people not to be intimidated by the size of our company. When you start to work with colleagues and develop relationships, you realize we’re all here for the same higher purpose of nourishing the world, and it begins to feel smaller because we’re all on the same team.
What is the main thing that keeps you at Cargill after all these years?
Cargill is an exciting place to be. Every day, I wake up with a purpose beyond just going to work. When I came here, I said I wanted to be both a scientist and a businessman, and no one knew what that looked like. But the organization was patient and listened, allowing me to try different things. They put me in scenarios and connected me with mentors, leading to where I am now. They heard me and worked with me to put me on this path where my passion and purpose come together. I can’t imagine being anywhere else – and it’s why I’m still here at Cargill after all this time.
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