“If you’re not taking this course and you’re involved in the baking industry, you’re missing out.”
What is it like to take the Entry-Level Training Course, part of ABA’s Cookie & Cracker Academy? I talked with Will Giambalvo, Senior Vice President at Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. who recently completed the course. ELT, which teaches the fundamentals of cookie and cracker manufacturing, is designed for new and seasoned cookie and cracker personnel who work in a plant operations environment. As someone who manages risk in baking facilities, Will is not the typical ELT student. Yet, he found real value in learning the basics. Here’s what he had to say.
Learning the “Why”
Q: What motivated you to sign up for ELT?
A: I thought if I could learn the science behind the baking process, that it would help me be able to go to clients and help them better manage their risks.
The other reason was that I just love this industry and I want to learn as much as I can about it. I love being able to talk to different bakeries and really understand the business and what their struggles are. And the more I know about the process, the more I can look in and understand what’s going on or not going on.
ELT’s Structure Sets Students Up for Success
Q: As someone with no previous direct baking experience, did the online learning provide you with the resources to understand the lessons?
A: First off, I love how it’s set up. I love how there’s videos and the different ways to interact within the modules and slides. The training modules do a great job of getting you introduced to the process of mixing, forming, baking, and ingredients. Anyone who has never stepped foot in a bakery could go through entry level.
The structure of it is great because the way it’s set up, you can do 30 minutes’ worth and then stop and then you can pick up right back up where you left off. It makes it really easy. There were times where I go back and say, wait a minute, I didn’t understand something. So, I would go back through it again to make sure I understood it.
Increasing Baking Knowledge
Q: What were your biggest takeaways from the course?
A: I’ve been through bakeries many times, I’ve been spent hundreds of hours in there, I’ve watched the products roll off the line and coming down the conveyor, never really understanding. I knew the different types of ovens, but I didn’t understand why you use different ovens. That was my big takeaway on the baking side: how the different oven processes work. Whether you’re using bands or the conveyors with mesh and how the different heat transfers work. I literally took my knowledge of bakery to a completely different level by taking these classes.
A Course for Everyone
Q: Would you recommend this to members new to the industry?
A: I would really recommend it to anyone that’s in a baking operation, to really get them up to speed if they’ve never been in an operation before. Speaking as an allied member, if you really want to understand the process, outside of what you may provide to the industry, taking a class like this pieces it all together. I think anyone who’s really involved with the baking industry should at least take entry level training.
Q: If you could sum up your thoughts on the Entry-Level Training Program into a sentence, what would you say?
A: If you’re not taking this and you’re involved in the baking industry, you’re missing out.
Will Giambalvo is a Senior Vice President at Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. His expertise includes the development of loss sensitive insurance programs, claims management, loss prevention, audits, and risk control. Will’s bakery experience ranges from a small startup waffle and pancake maker to large fortune 500 cookie and snack manufacturers.