Christine Lewington is the CEO and Founder of PIP International, an impressive agri-tech company based in Alberta, Canada. Her vision for PIP as its founder is inspiring, and the protein isolate that she helped create stands to revolutionize the food industry. Furthermore, Christine holds a leadership role in an industry dominated by men and continuously advocates for more women in STEM. She talks about this gender issue in the interview below, along with the other topics. Let’s get to the conversation!
Disclosure: This sponsored post features a woman CEO at the helm of a team aiming to improve individual health and wellness and positively impact the environment through its groundbreaking pea protein option.
Interview with CEO Christine Lewington
Under CEO Christine Lewington’s guidance, PIP International developed the World’s FIRST tasteless and odorless yellow pea protein isolate. They have set a new standard. I ask her about this exciting development first in the interview.
What is the vision at PIP? How is your company changing how we look at protein?
At PIP, we aim to provide consumers with a great-tasting plant pea protein option. We aim to change how people view protein by promoting the adoption of plant-based products, which benefit individual wellness and positively influence the climate crisis. Our organization recognizes the protein shortage challenge and strives to offer a sustainable solution to help close the protein shortage gap.
By producing yellow pea protein isolate, we revolutionize the protein landscape. Unlike current protein alternatives that are often bitter and unpleasant, our near-white colored pea protein isolate is neutral in taste, high-functioning, and fully soluble.
It sets itself apart by offering exceptional quality and functionality, making it a versatile and premium protein option at an affordable price. Additionally, we take pride in our commitment to being net 0 carbon negative and utilizing 100% green energy, ensuring a sustainable protein solution for the future.
Amazing! How can PIP’s protein isolate make a difference in wellness and nutrition?
PIP can make a significant difference in wellness and nutrition. Yellow peas, the foundation for our protein isolate, is considered the queen due to their superior nutritional profile. They contain all nine essential amino acids, making them a complete protein source.
Our yellow pea protein isolate is abundantly produced and offers the highest healthy factor. PIP’s protein can contribute to individuals’ overall well-being with its stacked nutritional benefits.
Furthermore, PIP’s impact extends on a global scale already. We have clients in Europe, Germany, Korea, and Australia, and we strive to expand further to reach and benefit people worldwide.
A global influence – wow. Can you please share a bit about PIP’s growth journey, including the beginnings of the protein isolate?
As the founder of PIP, I initiated the company in 2019 to make a positive environmental impact through pea protein. I did a lot of research and discovered the value of the pea protein process.
In 2021, we took a significant step forward by purchasing land and a facility that enabled us to expand our production capabilities. We are currently working on scaling up to meet the growing demand for our pea protein isolate.
The journey has been transformative, fueled by a deep-rooted desire to address global challenges. My inspiration for PIP came back in 2006. I spent 2006 in Panama, witnessing children drinking sewer water and recognizing the world’s pressing issues. PIP became the vessel through which I could pursue my vision and make a meaningful difference.
And that you are. I’m curious, what does your average day look like as CEO?
My day starts early; I wake up at 4:53 am every day. I believe in creating the day with intention and making conscious choices. I prioritize personal growth and take time for workouts to enhance my mental and physical well-being.
After my workout, I plan my day and head to PIP, ensuring our processing line progresses smoothly. Frequent calls with engineers, media representatives, and clients take up about 50% of my time.
Additionally, I dedicate considerable effort to product development and work closely with other companies to explore how they can incorporate our pea protein into their products. Throughout the day, I strive to balance professional responsibilities and personal commitments.
Have you encountered gender stereotypes, biases, and inequalities in the food industry?
Absolutely, gender stereotypes, biases, and inequalities persist in the food industry. Shockingly, less than 2% of venture capital funds are allocated to women, which creates significant barriers for female entrepreneurs. In addition, less than 15% of venture capital funds are explicitly given to the food industry.
The engineering aspect of the industry, which plays a crucial role, is predominantly male-driven. However, despite these challenges, I focus on those around me who believe in PIP and its mission. While some doors may close, others remain open because they see value in what we do, regardless of gender.
In your opinion, how can the food industry increase women’s representation, particularly in leadership roles?
A multi-faceted approach is essential to increase women’s representation in leadership roles within the food industry. Mentorship in STEM fields is vital in encouraging women to enter the industry. By providing guidance, support, and exposure to opportunities, we can empower more women to pursue careers in food-related fields.
Additionally, it is crucial to proactively promote gender diversity and equal opportunities in the food industry, starting from the farm level and universities. Encouraging women to pursue STEM-related degrees when entering college can lay the foundation for their future success in leadership positions.
Creating an inclusive environment that values and supports women at all stages of their careers can foster their advancement and increase their representation in leadership roles, bringing diverse perspectives and expertise to the industry.
Yes! You are inspiring, Christine Lewington. Who inspires you, and why?
I draw inspiration from two crucial figures in my life. Firstly, my mother has been a tremendous source of inspiration. Coming from a humble beginning and deep love for agriculture, she raised three children and overcame numerous obstacles without allowing her gender to hinder her progress. She instilled in me the perspective of looking at the value in everything, even in challenging situations.
Secondly, my mentor, Larry Slywka, has profoundly impacted me. He believed in me and taught me that focus, rather than intelligence alone, is the key to success. He helped me understand that I cannot do everything well and encouraged me to narrow my focus to what is truly best. His mentorship has been instrumental in shaping my approach to leadership.
The focus on pea protein, which forms the foundation of PIP, was inspired by Larry’s advice. Today, we offer the best pea protein isolate on the market, and the success of our product carries the weight of our company.
It’s no wonder you are a strong advocate for mentorship. Can you share a bit more about importance of mentoring?
Mentors play a crucial role in personal and professional growth. Finding and surrounding oneself with mentors is the number one key to success. They offer valuable guidance, sharing their experiences and knowledge, helping us avoid pitfalls, and providing a mirror through which we can see things from a new perspective.
As mentees, mentors open doors for us and introduce us to opportunities that we might not have discovered otherwise. I believe the gender of the person opening the door doesn’t matter; the opportunity itself matters.
As a mentee, I have benefitted tremendously from the support and guidance of my mentors. I have also embraced the responsibility of using the doors that have opened for me to open doors for other women, paying it forward and creating opportunities for their growth and success.
Speaking of growth, where do you see PIP in 5 years?
In the next five years, I envision PIP International becoming the leading pea processing facility in the world. We aim to provide affordable and sustainable pea protein to over 100 million people globally. We are committed to being net 0, carbon-free, ensuring our operations have a minimal environmental impact.
A few last words from CEO Christine Lewington
“At PIP, we believe in simplicity. Our message and approach are straightforward because we understand the importance of clarity. We are united by a shared vision of creating sustainable food solutions.
“‘All in this together’ means embracing collaboration and recognizing that our collective efforts are required to make a positive impact. PIP’s core objective is to provide food sustainably, ensuring that we contribute to a healthier future for both people and the planet.”
Connect with PIP International further online
Find out more about the team at PIP International today. The team has a combined experience of 200+ years in food processing, manufacturing, tech, regulatory, and operational management.
The organization is on social media too. Follow PIP International on LinkedIn to get updates as they happen.
Thank you, CEO Christine Lewington and the team at PIP, for all you are doing to help individual health and wellness and positively impacting the environment through this new protein isolate!
Top photo: Meet CEO Christine Lewington. Photo courtesy of PIP International.