Jacquelyn A. Levin
President and CEO
For her exceptional leadership and innovation in the disciplines of mechanical engineering and management as evidenced through her work in the food industry
Jackie Levin has good taste. But don't ask her to prove it–she'd have to eat dog food. Instead, ask the millions of dogs and cats around the world that benefit from her leadership at AFB International, the world's top supplier of pet food and treat flavors.
Levin, who as a child planned to become a veterinarian or doctor, took engineering as a foundation for what lay ahead. Instead, she liked it so well that she gave up on a medical career. She has since devoted much of her career to the production of better tasting products, first in the human sector of the food industry and then in her current position, which has reconnected her with animals.
After graduating from Purdue, Levin joined Procter & Gamble as a product engineer, where her first encounter with the food industry came through work with the startup of an orange juice business. This was followed by a decade with Griffith Laboratories, a global producer of industrial flavor and coating systems for the food service industry. In 1997, Levin was named president of Griffith's start-up business unit, Innova.
At Innova, she managed a $25 million operation and was a member of the parent company's World Management Executive Team. With her move in 2002 to AFB International, she is now responsible for a $130 million business and manages 240 people–and undoubtedly a few feline and canine taste-testers.
"I am very motivated by results–knowing that my efforts will lead to a positive change. Whether it is in a business decision that leads to a profitable outcome, or coaching an employee to success, or helping my children develop a new skill–I love the feeling of accomplishment," Levin says.
The pet food industry–an estimated $11 billion industry in the U.S. and a rapidly growing sector internationally–is a great place for Levin to challenge herself and her desire for results. It is a highly regulated industry and one in which the source for raw materials is changing and subject to national issues. It is also not as far a stretch as one might think from human to pet foods. "The quality and performance demands on pet food are increasing, rivaling the standards in the human sector," Levin says. "Much like their human counterparts, pet food companies are trying to find those ingredients that improve the health and well being of companion animals both to improve the quality of life in later years as well as extend the life of the pet."
In addition to her work in the food industries, Levin has consulted with a private equity firm targeting companies in the food and ingredients industry, and worked for McKinsey & Company, providing staff assistance with strategic planning and organizational development. She is always excited to learn about the new research underway and draw ties to how it impacts her business.
Though Levin doesn't always take work home with her, animals do play a role in her domestic life. In addition to two children, Levin and her husband have two fish, an aquatic turtle, and a hamster.
MBA '87, University of Michigan