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“We must remember there is a light at the end of the tunnel. ” With Dr. Ely Weinschneider & Rizal Hamdallah

First, we must remember there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Though it may seem hard now, we must keep the future in mind. We will get through this. There will be an end. That leads me to second, we are more resilient and stronger than we know. There is no “right” […]

First, we must remember there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Though it may seem hard now, we must keep the future in mind. We will get through this. There will be an end. That leads me to second, we are more resilient and stronger than we know. There is no “right” way to navigate this time. We will all emerge from this COVID-19 crisis as a better and more resilient society.


As a part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Rizal Hamdallah.

Rizal Hamdallah is the Global Chief Innovation Officer at Ocean Spray, the agricultural cooperative owned by more than 700 farmer families. As the lead for the company’s Innovation, Research and Development teams, he is charged with developing the next generation of health-focused products for the historic farmer-owned cooperative.


Thank you so much for doing this with us Rizal! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

With over 18 years of experience, I have dedicated my career to creating impact through innovation; encouraging the start-up mindset, taking nothing for granted, and challenging the status quo as a matter of course. As the lead for Ocean Spray’s Innovation, Research and Development teams, I am charged with developing the next generation of health-focused products for our historic farmer-owned cooperative.

At my core I am a creator, and throughout my career I have been guided to understand and build empathy with consumers. Ultimately, that’s how to develop and deliver innovative products that consumers didn’t even know they needed.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

One book really changed me: What Do You Want To Do Before You Die. The book really helped me understand that we have one short life, and we must each do something meaningful with our precious time. I realized I was not happy; I was not following a passion I believed in. I decided to feel fulfilled. I pivoted and identified 10 things I wanted to do before I die that would enable me to be fulfilled as a human, and professional.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. Can you share with us how Ocean Spray is helping to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”?

This pandemic has affected each of us and the communities in which we live. As a cooperative owned by farmers, Ocean Spray’s mission to remain committed to providing nourishment by connecting farms to families globally as the world comes together to face this challenge.

Our manufacturing and operations colleagues — and front-line workers around the world — are working hard to keep grocery stocks shelved and families fed. That’s our priority.

All front-line colleagues across the world play such an important role in the ability to keep food in the supply chain. We have implemented some quick commitments to our people and community such as a wage increase of $1.50 per hour for nearly 1,500 hourly employees on the front lines, as well as an extra week of vacation for salaried employees.

Ocean Spray was humbled to help provide 100,000 meals to families in need during this crisis, especially for those who don’t currently have access to food, by working with Feeding America, Northwest Harvest, Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin, Oregon Food Bank, United States Senator Robert Menendez, and the City of Boston.

We also believe that we must help first responders take care of themselves so that they can take care of others. We have been supporting #FirstRespondersFirst by providing our Atoka™ herbal tonics and shots to first responders in New York, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. We are also providing Ocean Spray Brew to Tufts Medical Center ICU workers in Boston and are humbled to be able to support these modern-day heroes in their efforts to keep communities safe and healthy.

At the end of the day, we are humbled to be doing just our small part, and we are so thankful for all the compassion and action everyone around the world is taking. If everyone does their small part, together we can achieve something great.

Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”?

First, we must remember there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Though it may seem hard now, we must keep the future in mind. We will get through this. There will be an end. That leads me to second, we are more resilient and stronger than we know. There is no “right” way to navigate this time. We will all emerge from this COVID-19 crisis as a better and more resilient society.

Third, for this pandemic, we need to keep the facts in mind. We need to remember we have strong scientific minds working tirelessly and at record speed to develop a vaccine and effective treatments. We should stay focused on the positive and rely on the scientists.

Fourth, just look around. Communities around the world have come together during this novel pandemic. We are mobilizing and innovating faster than ever before to help each other and to keep our world turning.

So, finally, we should be hopeful because we have one another. We have a beautiful movement of resiliency, kindness and solidarity during this pandemic, and I hope that, after the crisis ends, we continue to embrace our compassion for one another.

From your experience, what are steps each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious at this time?

It’s important that companies encourage employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance and habits during this time if they are working from home. At Ocean Spray, we are making sure our employees who have found themselves working from home block their calendars for lunch to take a much-needed break. We’ve also implemented a rule of not scheduling any meetings on Friday afternoons. We know the importance of re-charging, re-setting, and taking time to align on work-life realities. We are being empathetic, flexible, and keeping a sense of humor. At the end of the day, people will always come first. Always.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Education. I would ensure that every single child and person has access to education. Education opens opportunities, and those living in poverty are not able to access education. For me, this is very personal. I grew up with people who sacrificed so that I could receive an education. Everything I earned is because of a community in poverty who made sure I was given a better chance. I owe it to give back to them, to pay it forward and help other children get access to education, and I am committed to doing just that in this lifetime.

What is the best way for our readers to follow you online?

You can go to www.OceanSpray.com and follow Ocean Spray on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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