Director of Product Innovation, Focus Brands
The Art Institute of Atlanta
My education steered me in a direction where success was possible, as long as I was willing to work hard for it. Ciaran Duffy , Director of Product Innovation, Focus Brands Associate of Arts in Culinary Arts, 2000 , The Art Institute of Atlanta
Works in a Corporate Culinary Position Developing Licensed, Marketable Products
Ciaran Duffy is a product innovation director for Focus Brands in Atlanta, Georgia, responsible for project management of the culinary team. He says that a typical day involves working with the company’s brands to develop licensed, marketable products.
“It took 15 years to get into this role,” he states. “As a chef, my knowledge of food, ingredients, and restaurant operations has been an invaluable tool for me.” He adds that his experience at The Art Institute of Atlanta provided the foundation needed to grow and develop culinary skills. “It steered me in a direction where success was possible as long as I was willing to work hard for it.”
In his current position, Ciaran works in a corporate position—a big change from his schedule in kitchens. “When I moved into a corporate role, I felt blessed. I work Monday-Friday, travel nationally and internationally, and never work on holidays. Corporate is a different lifestyle that requires the same education and background.”
Ciaran says that the culinary industry is a challenging field where people must start at the bottom and work their way to the top. “if you are not living, breathing, walking the walk and talking the talk, you will be average. Be inspired by food, inspire others, be a good person, and be compassionate.”
He states that obstacles in the kitchen should be viewed as challenges to overcome and learn new things. “Spend your time in the trenches, earn your stripes, and be willing to do whatever it takes for the team to succeed.”
Ciaran is also a United States Army veteran with eight years of service. He earned the rank of specialist and the title of unit armorer, C-Battery, 1/321 Airbone Artillery, 18th Airborne Corp.
Ciaran, who in 2000 earned an Associate of Arts in Culinary Arts from The Art Institute of Atlanta, says that he’ll need to earn a Bachelor’s degree to keep moving up in the field—and he’s ready to take it on. “I am a chef in a world of highly educated people. I have a strong desire to have those people work for me.”
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