Victoria Williams-Ononye’s reverence for food started early in life. “Food was the center of home and a symbol of togetherness and love,” she says. “My grandmother was a Belizean Martha Stewart, and I grew up eating my mom’s curry and fried plantain and my Jamaican sister’s boiled dumplings.”
Early in her career, Williams-Ononye joined Radish, a Chicago startup attempting to create a healthy and sustainable version of a food-delivery service by cooking meals from scratch. But despite a promising concept, the company struggled to succeed. So in 2017, Williams-Ononye came to Haas to learn how to successfully innovate in the food space. In Will Rosenzweig’s Food Innovation Studio, she learned about the industry from the ground up. “It was thinking holistically about how the food we eat impacts personal health and the climate and overlaying that with financial drivers that affect a business,” she says.
Upon graduation, Williams-Ononye took that experience to a brand-management position with Kraft Heinz, focusing on healthier food products. Last year, she started a product-strategy position at Oatly, working to develop new products for the oat milk brand.
With Oatly’s focus on both health and environment, she feels like she’s found her fit. “One of the reasons I’m passionate about creating food products is an opportunity to spark community, comfort, and togetherness—in addition to health and sustenance,” she says. “At Oatly, sustainability is woven into the development process. I love that it’s a delicious product where people don’t have to make compromises.”