Rolling Out

Mahbir Thukral exposes HBCU students to careers at his multinational company

International Flavors & Fragrances aims to provide students a chance to gain corporate experience

Mahbir Thukral may be in the Netherlands, but he’s still looking to make an impact on HBCUs in the United States. Thukral is the global leader of International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) and is responsible for marketing technology. About six months ago, Thukral created an initiative called the Nourish Future Marketeers, which aligns IFF business priorities with opportunities for students. Specifically, in the U.S., they’re looking to partner with some HBCUs to give students first-hand exposure to what it’s like working for a multinational company.

Thukral presented the initiative during Wealth Weekend at the Kentucky Derby and spoke with rolling out about the initiative and how IFF can help support HBCUs.

How do you think the IFF can help support HBCUs?

The intention for IFF specifically is two parts. One is to give students exposure to the marketing profession, whether they’re coming from business entrepreneurship or we have some fashion business students that were in the UK. The other is to give exposure to the food and beverage industry, whether they work in the ingredients space where IFF is operating in or working from, or an FMCG and CPG brand — for example, Coca-Cola or Pepsi — or working in food service for Chick-fil-A or McDonald’s headquarters. Ultimately, the one thing I’ve discovered that kind of validated my intuition has been that a lot of these colleges don’t have partnerships or access points into multinationals like IFF, and there’s so much underserved talent in these institutions that if given the opportunity to engage in projects, [they will] have a firsthand experience and perspective [of how] these organizations operate. I think that by default it will increase the likelihood of these students believing that they have an opportunity to have access to these companies.

Why should people get involved with this program?

This specific program is a game changer. There are so many food and beverage companies that are investing in startups, which is great, but really having a dedicated program to nourish diverse marketing talent has also been an awakening for understanding the needs of Gen Z, which is going to surpass baby boomers entering the workforce, so it’s really important for people to understand that the food and beverage industry touches all of us every single day. We’re all eating, we’re all consuming, and we’re drinking all the time, and it’s a really exciting industry to be involved in. Whether it’s in B2C or B2B marketing, it’s so important to have diverse talent coming in.

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