Dr. Lara Ramdin | The Innovator 25 North America 2021

Dr. Lara Ramdin

Chief Innovation Officer

Dole Sunshine Company 


Hometown: London, UK

“The key word here is 'flexibility' and for me it's another demonstration of inclusion in the work-place. Teams/individuals should feel that they are able to plan their work around their lives, not the other way around."

It's been seven months since Dr. Lara Ramdin joined Dole Sunshine Company as chief innovation officer, bringing with her a deep understanding of nutrition science and consumer-related empathy. She has revolutionized storytelling, streamlining the process so stories come out faster, but also, with more meaning and impact. Lara also helmed the Dole's massive portfolio relaunch to refocus core products around the removal of added sugars and unnatural ingredients. She has also been leading the charge in Dole’s first-ever new brand launch of The Secret Nature of Fruit.

What professional accomplishment are you most proud of? 
Besides the ever-growing female-strong team that makes up the Dole Innovation Team (100% female in the US, and about 80% globally) - I am particularly proud of the work that we are doing with the Sunshine for All Cities programme. Not only are we finding ways to make good nutrition more accessible to people in food deserts like Jackson or Baltimore - we've also worked with the Girls & Boys Club to demonstrate how cooking with fruits/vegetables can be enjoyable and tasty.

There is growing evidence to suggest that showing children how to cook with nutritious food or making them part of the food system design process, early on, can lead them to make better choices later on in life – and who wouldn’t want to be part of a movement that empowers people to take charge of their own health?

Also, considering the evolution of diversity and inclusion over the last few years, I am honoured to have been involved in the development of the Dove ProAge body products. Designed specifically to nurture natural beauty, we were at the forefront of encouraging women to feel beautiful at any age, leading the "anti-anti-ageing" movement.

We're at a pivotal moment on the future of the office and how we work. How would like to see 'office/work culture' evolve?
I think the key word here is "flexibility" and for me it's another demonstration of inclusion in the work-place. Teams/individuals should feel that they are able to plan their work around their lives, not the other way around. I don't believe we will ever return to an office fully, more likely is, that we will settle into a "hybrid" model (some time at home, some at work). Personally, I find that people work harder when they feel trusted and are given the space, to figure out a work schedule that works best for them individually.

How can the PR industry make real progress in diversity, inclusion and equity?
As cliche as it might sound - it's about real action, active listening, being truly being mindful, and not just paying lip service. The industry has a duty to provide the space for everyone to have a voice - and part of making real change, is accepting that this might not have always been the case and simply has to do better

What makes you most excited or proud to be part of the PR industry?
That I have a role to play in communicating science - and in particular the science of nutrition at the moment - in a factual, engaging, transparent way. To be able to meaningfully inform consumers at all ages, how to eat healthfully and mindfully - truly excites me.

What are your fears/concerns for our industry?
If the last two years have taught us anything, it has to be the importance of real facts and reliable sources. It's so easy for misinformation to spread quickly and that can be confusing and damaging. I do believe that anyone working in this industry has a duty or responsibility to uphold ensuring robustness of the information in any communication.

What inspires you? This could be a person, place, activity, etc.
Sarah Gilbert, Jennifer Dounda, Emmanuelle Charpentier - rockstar female scientists breaking the glass ceiling in STEM (which is still predominantly a man's world)...what's not to be inspired by?

What are you thinking about most these days?
I am obsessed with nutrition, especially plant-based nutrition - how to make it accessible, how to make it tasty, how it will bring joy and most of all how I can continue to contribute to driving nutrition equality

What is your idea of happiness?
Dinner by the sea, with friends.