Claude J. Davis

Dr. Claude J. Davis AKA “Dr. Boil”

Principal Scientist and Brand Ambassador at Zatarain’s in New Orleans, LA

Dr Claude J. Davis was born and raised in the wonderful city of New Orleans, LA. He obtained his ACS-certified Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Xavier University of Louisiana. He joined the Department of Chemistry at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge as a graduate student in organic chemistry.  He worked in the group of Professor Robert M. Strongin and successfully defended his dissertation titled, “Resorcinol Condensation Products: A New Class of Colorimetric Sensors for Saccharides” and graduated in May of 2001. On reminiscing about his time at LSU as a graduate student, Claude recalls, “I greatly appreciated the diversity of the LSU Chemistry graduate program. The program had great global representation from a student perspective, and it taught me how to work well with people from different backgrounds including some with language barriers. It was a microcosm of the corporate research environment that I entered as a young professional. More importantly, my research experiences, coursework, technical presentations, teaching experience and dissertation defense positioned me well for successful leadership roles in corporate America. My graduate experiences at LSU taught me how to evaluate technical talent, develop people, take risks, make quality decisions, presentation skills, and anticipate questions and good communication skills.”

Claude described his approach to the next step of his career: “Once I was ready to graduate, I started the job interview process both on campus and at national scientific meetings with companies across multiple industries. Ultimately, I decided to accept a Research Engineer position with Kraft Foods in Glenview, IL, because I enjoy new challenges like working with food as a complex matrix. I had great career experiences for nearly 12 years at Kraft, which was the second largest food company in the world at that time. “

Claude has now spent more than 16 years in the food industry, at Kraft Foods, Inc. and now at McCormick & Co. At Kraft Foods Inc., his job titles included: Senior Scientist, Senior Group Leader, and Program Leader and he worked in Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Kraft Processed Cheese and Oscar Mayer Meats business units. As part of the McCormick Group, he has been responsible for multiple product lines within the Zatarain’s family. He is currently the Brand Ambassador & Principal Scientist at Zatarain’s located in the Greater New Orleans area. When asked what he does on a daily basis, Claude replied, “My responsibilities include public relations appearances as an official spokesperson for the Zatarain’s brand including TV, radio, print, social media, trade shows and corporate sponsorship events. In addition to serving as a technical resource at sales meetings with key customers (e.g. Walmart) to help sell and promote both new and existing products in the Zatarain’s product portfolio. From a Research & Development perspective, I create new product formulations, conduct brand maintenance on existing products when needed, and provide both strategic direction and technical guidance across all Zatarain’s product lines as a member of the brand leadership team.”

Like most graduates, Claude identified a pivotal juncture in his journey, “A “turning point” in my career was when I moved from a role in strategic research to a new role in product development at Kraft Foods. It afforded me the opportunity to learn and build product development skills in food science, which I did not receive via my formal education. This was a critical part of my professional development as I transitioned from a technical role to a managerial role leading a team of product developers.”

There isn’t anything Dr. Boil would change about his successful journey to-date, but he left some wonderful advice for prospective and current graduate students. “I highly recommend that students seek and identify mentors at multiple levels including technical professionals, business professionals, personal friends and even peers. Build relationships with your graduate school peers and technical professionals to establish an extensive professional network both internal and external to LSU. It is important that you continue to have a thirst for knowledge, so be a lifelong learner. It doesn’t end with your MS or PhD, you’re just beginning the process of building your skill set. As a scientist, you must develop the business acumen needed to make others (non-scientists) buy in to your idea and/or understand the practical applications of your creations. Thus, knowing your audience and how to best communicate to them is paramount. Lastly, learn how to be adaptable in your work environment for change is the only constant in life and changes can and do happen very quickly in a corporate business climate.”

Follow these links to see Dr Boil share his passion and expertise:

 Profile contributed by Ashley Taylor and Carol Taylor