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Meet the Innovators: Lisa Selk

November 8, 2023

Impact | The Originate Initiative

Lisa Selk, senior vice president of Brand Fuel at Hormel Foods, talks about trends, fostering a culture of innovation and using data to fuel growth.

As senior vice president of Brand Fuel, Lisa Selk oversees the company’s hub for innovation, consumer and shopper insights, brand diagnostics and technology. She began her career with Hormel Foods in 1998 as a food scientist in R&D and has since held brand management and innovation leadership roles in multiple divisions. She assumed her current role in 2023.

A graduate of North Dakota State University, Selk received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in food sciences, followed by a master’s degree in business administration from the University of St. Thomas. She also completed the Kellogg Executive Development Program at Northwestern University. She volunteers her time in youth development programs, currently leading youth groups and coaching youth basketball and softball.

The key initiative that Brand Fuel is leading is thinking future-forward and food-forward.

Lisa Selk – Senior Vice President of Brand Fuel at Hormel Foods

Can you describe your role at Hormel Foods and how it supports the Originate initiative and our overall innovation efforts?

My role here at Hormel Foods is to lead our Brand Fuel team. Brand Fuel is a collection of centers of excellence in deep functional areas such as insights, innovation, and our digital and brand experience groups. But I think more of my role within Brand Fuel is to foster the culture of innovation.

In your tenure at Hormel Foods, how has the culture of innovation evolved? How would you describe it today?

The culture of innovation here at Hormel Foods has always been strong. But the most important thing about an innovative culture is collaboration, it’s about the people using creativity to generate ideas that solve problems for consumers and customers. Over my 25 years here at Hormel Foods, innovation has been the tie that binds my career. I started in corporate innovation about 15 years ago. Since then, the group has grown dramatically. That shows the importance and the commitment of the company around innovation. The growth of our company is founded on innovation, and being part of that is super exciting.

How is Hormel Foods leveraging data management and analytics to catalyze innovation?

We have data from all different sources. The key for data is to structure it in a way that we can learn from it, generate insights and innovate based on those insights that drive growth for the company.

What top three consumer trends are you tracking that will have a substantive impact on the food industry over the next decade?

There are quite a few, but first would be elevated experiences. If you think about convenience and how consumers and operators are looking for convenience, that’s never going to go away. So thinking about how to elevate experiences around the food we deliver is key.

The second would be around sustainability and making sure that our growth is separate from the impact that we may have on the environment. Thinking about sustainability in our products and services is extremely important. Our mission-driven innovation also surrounds the 20 By 30 Challenge. If you think about the efficiencies found in our plants, and new product packaging, we are really trying to decouple our growth from the impact we have on the environment. And by delivering innovative solutions, we are able to achieve results.

The third is holistic well-being, not only from a physical perspective, but also a mental one. We’re delivering great protein and nutritious foods, but from a mental well-being perspective, we need to think through how to cut down some of the pain points consumers have in preparing our foods.

What areas of innovation are you leading within Brand Fuel that you are most excited about?

The key initiative that Brand Fuel is leading is thinking future-forward and food-forward. How do we create solutions for our customers and operators that are going to deliver true value? And that’s not only incremental innovations, but truly breakthrough innovations on the horizon. That’s really what I’m looking forward to, as well as building a strong culture of innovation around getting people together, talking about solutions and delivering those to our end customers.