Q&A with Anne
Anne Bigalke, QualiTru’s Vice President of Strategic Development, holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Political Economy from the University of Puget Sound and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from St. Catherine’s University. Anne spent her summers as a youth assembling sampling kits at the family business. Prior to working at QualiTru, Anne worked in Malaysia managing six development centers; she returned to her roots in Minnesota and a job at QualiTru that kindled her passion for the dairy industry. Today she enjoys working with industry experts to develop scientific studies and guidelines to gather better in-process data while working with a passionate team to prepare for future sampling needs.
What is your favorite quote?
“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
What was your favorite subject in school?
Didn’t have a favorite – I more enjoyed finding ways to connect different subjects. I studied International Political Economy in undergrad – so it was all about identifying overlaps. I found my work in Malaysia was an even greater time for learning – from managing a team of 10 people, speaking a new language to learning a new ‘boleh’ lifestyle.
What are the top 3 places you have visited?
Vietnam, India, and Badlands South Dakota. Maybe more than anything – it’s the unknown and building a list of where to go next. I love exploring new places.
How did you end up working at QualiTru?
A summer job with too much curiosity. I was enrolled in a program in the Netherlands – but couldn’t leave an amazing opportunity. During that summer I called different Quality Managers who brought me in and taught me why they choose to use our sampling system and the impact it made on their work. That experience convinced me that there was so much more to explore and don’t see an end anytime soon. Wake up every morning excited to work with customers who show me how our system is solving a problem for them and many are willing to support others to improve the industry – it is the best thing I could ask for.
Your house is on fire, all loved ones (including pets) are safe. You can safely retrieve 3 items. What do you get?
Passport, microplane grater (for testing), and eye mask.
What was the last experience that made you a stronger person?
Working with Cornell University, we set up a study to compare string sampling to individual cow sampling. The first round of results were not favorable. This challenged us to decide whether to pursue the report or not. We decided that we need to continue the study for the best interest of the industry as that fulfills our mission to improve food safety.
How do you define success?
Success is aligning our team with farmers, haulers, and Quality teams to make better quality and safer food. On a more personal note, as a child I didn’t know what my dad ‘did’, but I knew he saved lives by creating safer food. Now I know that our sampling equipment helps the industry produce safer food with accurate process and product data. I hope that my son, one day, sees our team continuing to make a healthier community.
What is one sampling solution story that stands out in your mind?
I worked with a farm out in Michigan that had issues controlling SPCs. They thought our equipment was introducing contamination after several weeks of tearing apart their milking room. We set up a diagnostic test with 5 sample points across their milking room and found the sock filters had sediment that led to elevated counts only after 5 hours of milking. Weeks of headaches were solved in 12 hours.
What was your first car?
What are your favorite parts of your job?
I love connecting passionate people with the right tools. Working in dairy, I get to feed my endless curiosity to learn from the hardest working and driven people behind some of my favorite foods. Extremely grateful to work with such passionate people who are shaping food safety and supporting farmers.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
Ability to travel anywhere in no time – cut out travel time.
If you could have dinner with any person (living or deceased) who would it be and where would you dine?
I would make breakfast with my Grandma (now passed). I have so many great memories of waking up too early in the morning, listening to the radio, and baking/eating cinnamon rolls together.
What is something you have accomplished that few would guess?
My nickname was Annie Oakley – I have a good shot.
The best advice you have ever received?
My dad taught me to always look for a win-win ending for business and personal life. He didn’t even need to say it – he acts on that attitude every day.