Currently from Vancouver, BC, Tara Haddad is the CEO of Modern Meat. Tara began the company from the ground up in the hopes to promote a more transparent and healthier option for people to choose from in the plant-based industry. Modern Meat focuses on creating plant-based meat alternatives that are non-GMO, soy-free, gluten-free, and even preservative-free.
Tara Haddad has always been an entrepreneur. Her talents flourished at a young age as she began her own tutoring center, where she is currently still the Director at Aspire Learning Academy. Tara moved to study accounting and became a CPA. All of which prepared to for her leadership role at Modern Meat.
Why did you decide to create your own business?
I wanted to create a meat alternative that would meet the specifications of what I wanted to feed my own family. That is why we use only real whole food ingredients. We do not use chemical preservatives or fillers. Our products are all free of soy, gluten, nuts, and GMOs.
Our Modern Meat products are not exactly the same as meat, but it’s a very good replacement. A lot of people who are completely plant based do not want to have a simulated meat product. They don’t want it to bleed or look so much like meat. It is a good transition for people switching over to a plant-based diet.
What do you love most about the industry you are in?
I really like that I am working in a segment of the food industry that is being disrupted. Things are really changing now. Even though food has not changed much in the last 20 years, what we are doing at Modern Meat is a large change. It is moving towards a more sustainable, healthy way of eating. We are trying to educate consumers that this is a new way of consuming food. It is really exciting to me. There are unlimited possibilities in this market. Today, people really read labels and want to know what they are eating. They want to know where their food comes from and what is in it.
What keeps you motivated?
I feel that this industry and the job that I’m in is helping people to make a change for the better. I am motivated when I see my kids and my family wanting to eat healthy and want to know what they are putting inside their bodies. One of our company mottos is “making small changes makes a big difference.” I am motivated by the excitement every day of bringing our product and this change to the food industry.
How do you motivate others?
I motivate the people on our team by giving them a sense of importance and positivity for the work that they are doing and the impact that they have on our company and the world. We are all working together, and we feel like a big family. We all have alignment in our goals and with each other.
How has your company grown from its early days to now?
Now we have a corporate structure. We have an organizational chart. We now have people in different departments to help us with all aspects of our business, including finance, marketing, design, and sales. In the beginning, we were holding every hat possible. Now we have more people to handle the responsibilities. It’s been really exciting to see that growth and to move from handling every part of the business to now overseeing the different departments.
How do you maintain a solid work life balance?
For me, I try to work as much as possible when my kids are at school and then I take off the time that they are at home, so the after-school time. Then I will go back at night and do some extra work. I find some of the stuff that I do, the research or more product development, it is almost like a hobby for me. It does not even feel like work. The more tedious work and things that have to happen, I will handle during the day. I feel like I have a pretty good balance. I will also try to fit in a little exercise here and there. I try to make sure that my family time is always doing something active so that it is taking care of our health as well as creating as much quality time as possible.
What traits do you possess that makes a successful leader?
I am empathetic to a lot of people and I also take a broad outlook. I give everyone a chance to succeed in the best way that they can, whether it’s mentoring them or understanding what it is that helps them get to the point of the most growth. I model good communication and set goals so that everyone understands the big picture of what we are trying to achieve.
What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?
If you are quiet, it may not be the best industry for you because it is a lot of relationship building and trying to meet people in the industry that can give you specific connections. I think if you are starting out in it, you really need to understand that your product is based a lot on you as the founder of your product as well as making sure that your branding and you basically sells that product as well as the product development and your team.
What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?
Hard work does really get you to the finish line. People always say that someone is brilliant or really smart, but I just feel that perseverance, hard work, and work ethic are really bigger factors. The more effort you put in, the more results you will achieve.
What is your biggest accomplishment?
My biggest accomplishment is being a mom to my three kids. They are really interested in my work. The fact that I founded a company gives my children a lot of insight into entrepreneurial skills and the hard work that it takes to succeed. I like modeling for them that you should do something that you are very passionate about. It’s helpful for them to see me in this role.
Outside of work, what defines you as a person?
My life as a mother defines me as a person. Outside of work, that is the main things that I focus on. I also loving being outside, so any outdoor activity is something that I do. We try to do as much outdoors as possible with my family.
What trends in your industry excite you?
People are moving towards a diet that is more plant based.
Where do you see you and your company in 5 years?
I would like to see our products in every kitchen in North America and beyond. I would like the products to be so well known that nearly everyone knows of them and will have tried them in their own kitchens. I would like to see the company be able to penetrate the plant-based market so that people do know the company and they have brand awareness so we can be a leader in plant-based products.