Director, Quality & Innovation



Quality Assurance
Sebastopol, CA, USA
Posted on Friday, January 26, 2024

At Guayakí Yerba Mate, we're more than just a beverage company: we believe yerba mate culture allows us to "COME TO LIFE" together and is an invitation to personal, social, ecological and cultural regeneration. Market Driven Regeneration™ is Guayakí Yerba Mate’s business model that aspires to create a net positive impact in the world throughout our operations and supply web. It influences the ingredients we source and products we make, distribute, and sell in order to have a positive impact on people and the planet throughout our business.

As our team expands, we are looking for people to join us who are committed to this aspiration and believe a better world is possible. Our company culture is driven by collaboration, support and teamwork which allows us to grow together. We believe that learning from different perspectives and seeking shared solutions together is an opportunity to grow both individually and as an organization. As an international company rooted in yerba mate native to South America, our people come from different cultures and backgrounds that are welcomed and valued. We question the status quo and seek innovative solutions to help drive the global regenerative business movement. We invite individuals to join our team who embrace work as a collective and aspire to using business as a force for good.

The Director of Quality & Innovation is responsible for providing strategic leadership and guidance in the development, maintenance, and enforcement of Guayaki’s food safety, quality assurance, product compliance and product innovation programs across a network of co-manufacturers and suppliers. You'll provide leadership and direction to a team of direct reports and serve as the liaison and subject matter expert on food safety regulations, product compliance, quality, and innovation topics. You'll report directly to the VP of Operations and lead a small team. This is a hybrid role and you will expected to come into our Sebastopol office 2-3 times per week.

How you’ll help:

  • Oversee, develop, and continuously improve internal food safety and quality systems. Audit programs to ensure compliance with applicable regulatory and certification requirements as a brand-owner.
  • Stay current with key regulatory and certifying agency guidelines, e.g. Organic, Non-GMO Project, Kosher, GFSI standards.
  • Serve as the liaison between the department and other functions across the organization including Marketing, Legal and Leadership.
  • Effectively communicate the status of innovation and quality operations to key stakeholders at all levels of the organization, as well as regulatory agencies when required.
  • Oversee program for onboarding and auditing suppliers and co-manufacturers to ensure food safety requirements and quality standards are met.
  • Serve as the "quality person responsible" for all food safety events and/or matters related to regulatory/compliance.
  • Oversee the quality programs related to product complaint investigations and development of internal responses and resolutions. Provide responses or insights to marketing and customer service to facilitate the development of responses to customer and consumer inquiries.
  • Investigate and report food safety, quality, and regulatory issues to key stakeholders, internal and external partners, and make appropriate recommendations.
  • Lead a skilled innovation team in the development of new product offerings from ideation to scaleup. Ensure efficient and effective transition of product development programs to high volume
  • Work with Strategy and Marketing to develop an innovation pipeline and strategy.
  • Validate new equipment, ingredients, products, or processes.
  • Partner closely with Operations to understand all product costs and levers to improve COGS with R&D initiatives.
  • Lead the identification and capture of intellectual property throughout the discovery, prototyping, and development process.
  • Identify and scope new technologies to drive advancements in product costs, product quality, and margin improvements.
  • Support South American yerba mate quality projects and programs to ensure alignment of standards and programs.
  • Lead yerba mate research initiatives between North and South America in alignment with company objectives.
  • Build and develop department’s expertise by:
    • Hiring individuals with the ability and desire to excel
    • Providing goal setting and development plans
    • Developing individual and department training programs
    • Providing feedback and performance evaluations
    • Maintain a supportive and cooperative environment through regular meetings and team building activities.
    • Develop and manage annual department budget.
    • Develop presentations, reports, and training materials as needed.
    • Attend industry conferences, trainings and expositions and obtain pertinent information necessary for the continual development of Quality Department.

Here’s what you’ll provide:

  • Master’s degree in Food Science, Microbiology, or Engineering preferred. Extensive quality and product specific experience with a Master’s degree may substitute for a technical degree.
  • At least 10 years prior experience with beverage and/or food manufacturing. RTD brewed beverage experience a plus.
  • At least 5 years of management experience.
  • Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI) certification required.
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office (Outlook, Word, Excel and Powerpoint)
  • Bi-lingual in Spanish or Portuguese a plus

How you'll be successful:

  • Extensive knowledge of FDA Food Safety Regulations, including FSVP, certification requirements (such as Organic, Non-GMO Verification Project and Kosher), and cGMP’s
  • Extensive knowledge of microbiology
  • Ability to solve practical problems and deal with a variety of variables in situations where only limited standardization exists.
  • Ability to design and conduct trials, collect data, and interpret results to drive technical knowledge forward, developing robust action plans, risk assessments, and contingency planning.
  • Quality systems development experience and ability to manage quality planning and direction at multiple co-manufacturing sites.
  • Ability to read, analyze, and interpret common scientific and technical journals, financial reports, and legal documents. Ability to respond to common inquiries or complaints from customers, regulatory agencies, or members of the business community. Ability to effectively present information to top management, public groups, and/or boards of directors.
  • Advanced math skills i.e. analyzing product data to include, but not limited to, nutrition values and composition metrics.
  • High level of confidence working with probability and statistical reasoning as well as fractions, percentages, ratios, and proportions and scaling up to practical situations.
  • Ability to apply principles of logical or scientific thinking to a wide range of intellectual and practical problems. Ability to deal with nonverbal symbolism (formulas, scientific equations, graphs, etc.,) in its most difficult phases. Ability to deal with a variety of abstract and concrete variables.
  • Familiarity with Quality Software Systems.
  • Familiarity with Project Management tools.

What we offer:

The pay range for this role is an estimate based on a wide range of compensation factors; actual pay offered may vary based on (but not limited to) work experience, education and/or training, critical skills, and/or business considerations. Sales commissions and/or variable pay plans are also offered depending on the position (ex: monthly, quarterly, annual bonuses). Additionally, we offer a competitive benefits package including top-tier benefits, comprehensive medical, dental, and vision plans, employee life and disability, mental health benefits, paid medical leave, paid company holidays, and paid time off, as well as opportunities for career growth and advancement within our team!

Salary Range
$140,000$165,000 USD

More about who we are:

Yerba mate. We love it, we drink it, but what, exactly, is it? Guayakí Yerba Mate started in 1996 as a passion, guided by a purpose and transformed into a brand with the goal of bringing yerba mate to more people. Known to provide a smooth energy boost and improved focus, yerba mate comes from the naturally caffeinated leaves of a species of holly tree found deep in the Atlantic Rainforest of South America and naturally contains a combination of caffeine (also found in coffee), theobromine (also found in chocolate) and polyphenols (also found in green tea) offering a unique beverage experience.

Guayakí Yerba Mate offers a variety of options to meet energy and refreshment needs through a robust portfolio of ready to drink beverages and traditional loose-leaf products. Brewed with yerba mate and infused with real fruit juices and herbs, Guayaki Yerba Mate is proudly sourced with regenerative, organic and fair-trade certified ingredients.

To learn more about our impact, check out our Impact Report at:

Guayakí Yerba Mate is an equal-opportunity employer committed to creating a diverse and inclusive workplace. All qualified applicants will be treated with respect and receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, creed, religion, sex, gender identity, genetic information, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, uniform service, Veteran status, age, or any other protected characteristic per federal, state, or local law, including those with a criminal history, in a manner consistent with the requirements of applicable state and local laws, including the CA Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring Ordinance.