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Sensory Scientist I - Downers Grove, IL


Position Summary:


This position provides Sensory Research and Guidance leadership for Hillshire Brands Retail and Foodservice businesses through extensive knowledge and application of front end consumer research techniques (quantitative & qualitative), as well as core sensory tools (discrimination testing, descriptive analysis, etc.) to drive innovation.  Proficient in food science; experience with frozen, refrigerated and/or shelf stable meat products preferred.  Works independently and provides some training, mentoring and development of subordinate sensory staff positions.  Is recognized by Innovation and R&D as a critical resource and is sought out for recommendations about how sensory insights will impact a business decision.   


Essential Duties & Responsibilities:

·         Business Partner/Functional Lead: Serves as a respected sensory resource for portfolio activities (innovation, margin enhancements and quality improvements). 

·         Acts as a business partner and sensory specialist for at least one major product category or brand (e.g. Hillshire Farm Sausage) or is responsible for leadership and methods advancement for one sensory function (e.g. descriptive panel).  Is externally focused and agile…responds quickly to business needs by balancing industry research best practices with existing resources and deep understanding of target consumer to ensure robustness of research. 

·         Utilizes the appropriate quantitative and qualitative methods to drive research to obtain targeted product development guidance and create consumer driven specifications on initiatives that align with corporate strategy. 

·         As a strategic business partner, effectively partners across the organization, and in particular, within R&D  (Emerging Technologies,  Culinary, Packaging, Product Development, Process Engineering) and outside of R&D (Marketing, Innovation, Consumer Insights, Supply Chain, Legal and Sales). 

·         Also responsible for driving external partnerships (Universities, Flavor Suppliers, Research Suppliers, etc.)

·         Department Leadership: Mentors junior level staff positions for technical, business and professional development.

·         Serves as a key resource for subordinates to ensure they understand best practices, protocols and sensory procedures. 

·         Partners with senior staff to design and execute research to advance internal and external methods and procedures.

·         Works with Director to make recommendations to Senior Management about program process improvements and new methods implementation.

·         Prepares and maintains budgets concerning areas of responsibility.  

·         Models behaviors in action through refuse to lose attitude and inspiring optimism throughout R&D. 

·         Displays Leadership toward achieving R&D North Star Vision.

·         Advancement of the Field: Works with more senior sensory staff  to advance the tools, methods, analysis and business applications of  sensory functions. 

·         Exhibits unmatched expertise, continuous improvement and learning via use and development of new research techniques to drive a competitive advantage for Hillshire Brands.

·         Is an active member of at least one key external organization (ASTM, IFT, Pangborn, Sensometrics, Society of Sensory Professionals, etc), and has the ability to connect with recognized industry experts in the field. 

·         Responsible for following one key technical journal or research area of interest to department (e.g. research on emotions).

·         Communication and Technology Capabilities: Demonstrates excellent oral (presentation, meetings) and written communication skills. 

·         Solid proficiency in use of Microsoft tools (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint). 

·         Must have excellent understanding of statistical design, analysis and interpretation of data, with the ability to decipher and communicate strategic research implications.  

·         Knowledge of Compusense software or SIMS a plus.  Must have extensive experience in Drivers of Liking, Design of Experiments and Multivariate Analysis techniques.

·         Application of Food Science and Engineering Knowledge to Sensory Design and Application: Has strong knowledge of food systems as it relates to basic food science, food processing, food chemistry and food engineering. 

·         Must have food development understanding in order to ensure appropriateness of design, execution and interpretation of both analytical and consumer sensory testing.  

·         Be aware of emerging food science trends and issues and anticipate how those will impact project objectives and subsequent testing. 

·         Be able to ask R&D questions about food processing/development and how food design will impact the sensory and consumer perception of the prototypes and final product.

·         Must consider these factors when creating sensory test parameters.

·         Shows strong technical expertise in sensory science and has equally strong project management skills, regularly makes contributions that have a significant and positive impact on the performance of the business/function, is viewed as an important resource within the business/function and consistently models Hillshire Brands Behaviors in Action.




·         B.S. in Sensory, Food Science or related field with 7+ years of experience, OR M.S./Ph.D.  in Sensory, Food Science, or related field with 3-5  years of Sensory experience

·         Deep understanding of Statistical design a must

·         Extensive experience in all aspects of sensory is essential

·         Cross-functional training in Market Research is a plus. This job requires proven project management and communication skills.  Extended work hours and/or travel may be necessary

·         Experience with meat a plus


The Hillshire Brands Company (NYSE: HSH) is a leader in branded, convenient foods. The company generated approximately $4 billion in annual sales in fiscal 2013, has more than 9,000 employees, and is based in Chicago. Hillshire Brands’ portfolio includes iconic brands such as Jimmy Dean, Ball Park, Hillshire Farm, State Fair, Van’s Natural Foods, Sara Lee frozen bakery and Chef Pierre pies as well as artisanal brands Aidells, Gallo Salame and Golden Island premium jerky. For more information on the company, please visit


At Hillshire Brands, we believe that careers are as unique as individuals. That's why we offer employment opportunities that give you ownership of your career. All employees have a voice, and your ideas are valued. As an employee of the company, your individual contributions will make a significant impact on our overall success. Our organization benefits from the passion of individuals working together, so as an employee of Hillshire Brands you will have an opportunity to further develop your skills, gain new experiences and build new capabilities.


Hillshire Brands is an Equal Employment Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer and maintains a Drug-Free Workplace.







Primary Location

 US-IL-Downers Grove (Metro Chicago)



Education Level

 Bachelor's Degree

Job Level

 Individual Contributor


 Yes, 15 % of the Time


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