Sometimes, as professionals in a field as specific as Aquaculture and Seafood, people can feel like their current job was their last career move. But Aquaculture has shown us that its growth potential means new ways and new opportunities. And this is one of the topics I want to bring to today’s Talent View. I recently got the opportunity to have a nice chat with Dafna Israel about her experience. She is currently working with Phibro Animal Health as their Global Research Manager. Dafna has been in the Israelian Aquaculture Industry for over 12 years. So let’s learn more about her Aquaculture experience, shall we?
To begin this, Dafna’s first career choice was different from aquaculture. But growing up she was always close to life with water. When she was 5 years old she started swimming for sports, up until graduation. And her introduction to the sea was when her father gifted her a SCUBA diving course for her 12-year-old birthday. Ever since that first SCUBA course, she fell in love with the sea and started paying more attention to its needs. She became a divemaster and was involved in SCUBA for a number of years, but her first job as a professional was at a hospital. “It was okay, but it was not for me, I needed to be doing something out, with nature”. That’s when she applied for a Master’s degree in Marine Sciences and decided to later get her Ph.D. in Aquaculture.
“And from that point on my Aquaculture approach has been that: okay we have to hep the sea to recover, stop fishing them and clean them. Investing my energy in Aquaculture gives us that”.
Dafna’s Career Progress
Dafna started in the Aquaculture industry as a Farm technician and is currently a Global Research Manager. How did it happen? Her trajectory involves a lot of variables but is tightly involved in Research and Development. During her Ph.D., she worked as an experiment manager at Suf-Fish fish Farm. There she was in charge of examining the different ways to improve the farm’s filtration system and feed management, reducing and improving farm waste. Later on, she worked as a Lead Nutritionist and Head of R&D at Raanan Fish Feed. In this position, she was in charge of developing new feed formulations for different types of fish. Here, Dafna needed to constantly adapt the feed formulation according to the demand, and ingredient availability in the market.
At Enzootic, Dafna worked as a Project Manager, leading R&D activities in the development of novel feed additive formulations for crustaceans. In the middle of the pandemic, Phibro Animal Health was looking for a Global Research Manager, and Dafna was great for the position.
Dafna and Phibro
Phibro Animal Health was founded in 1946 under a different name and has gone through several acquisitions, changes and merges. Today, Phibro is a global company in charge of animal health and mineral nutrition. They produce nutritional feed additives, vaccinations, and medicines for the worldwide aquaculture industry. Relying on a strong team of scientists and specialists that always aim for fish wellbeing and sustainable aquaculture practices.
Phibro is always supporting career growth and development through continuous coaching, feedback, and training. As well as by offering challenging jobs and nurturing work environments. Dafna saw this opportunity as a unique one for her career progression. At Phibro she is managing Phibro’s Aquaculture trials globally and locally. Where she is responsible for designing and writing research protocols. As well as the execution and analysis of the Nutritional Feeds and Substances trial.
“After a few months into the pandemic and having to be a full-time mother. I had been in contact with Phibro in the past, we had collaborated in different opportunities throughout my career. And they had this position opened. When I read the description I thought wow that’s me. And it is funny because every time I move within the Israeli Aquaculture industry since is not too big, I always think well this will be my last move. The recruitment was sort of a long process, but I was a top candidate and it was all worth it”.
Being a Mother and a Careerist
For Dafna, this has been one of the main challenges. Being committed to being a good mother for her children and being an excellent professional. ” The society in which we live is not yet completely egalitarian in treating women as careerists. I have to say that in the house I built together with my partner we both get a place for having a career”. But prior to her maternity leaves Dafna did feel a lot of pressure. She worked up until the day before giving birth, for all three of her children. However, now at Phibro, where she experiences a more family-oriented environment, there is a lot more understanding of the roles as a mother and as a professional.
She has been able to set her own limits and boundaries when it comes to times and spaces for her family and children. And Phibro and her current manager have respected them. “I feel like I am in a good place to work. I deliver my job. My boss is satisfied with my work. I don’t need to apologize for trying to be a present parent for my kids”.
What is Aquaculture for You?
A progressive industry that never stops. Aquaculture always looks for the next new thing, for improvement. It’s an industry that doesn’t rest and that always reinvents itself”.