Packer 25 2020 — Natalie Shuman
Natalie Shuman has a talent for the art of engaging others, coupled with an appreciation for the science of sustainability.
The two sides of this coin create a dynamic produce marketer who leads with intention.
Shuman is director of trade and retail marketing at Goleta, Calif.-based Apeel Sciences, which develops plant-derived technology to help fresh food growers, suppliers and retailers maintain produce quality and extend shelf life to reduce food waste.
She has more than 15 years of experience in business-to-business trade marketing, consumer marketing and public relations.
Always outgoing and interested in the arts, “I joke that I was tap dancing out of the womb,” Shuman said.
She does her homework too, though, making sure to gain as much exposure to whatever company she’s a part of and to learn all aspects of how it operates.
“I try to be very intentional in becoming a lifelong learner and gather different experiences and perspectives,” Shuman said. “The magic happens when you put yourself in uncomfortable positions. You can flex your muscles in new areas.”
After graduating from University of California, Los Angeles, Shuman thought she’d go into entertainment public relations, but a product-placement internship uncovered a desire for something more values-driven.
She worked in international sales and marketing for Sun World International, positioning the company as a premium and sustainable grape brand in multiple countries and on several platforms.
In 2018, Shuman encountered a turning point by participating in the United Fresh Produce Industry Leadership Program, class 18. Now, she’s the incoming chairwoman for the Leadership Program’s alumni advisory board.
“It really gave me the tools to be intentional about my career path,” she said.
Shuman was also a volunteer member of United Fresh’s Produce Marketing & Merchandising Council.
“Natalie is one of those special people who is always learning, but also teaching,” said Tom Stenzel, United Fresh CEO and president, citing her engagement with others in the leadership program. “And all along the way she’s been a volunteer leader giving back to the industry.”
When Shuman leads, she tries to emulate the philosophy of radical candor.
“They say it’s caring personally and challenging directly — creating an environment where people can connect on a human level and are comfortable in speaking their truth,” Shuman said.Shuman also supports Global Women Fresh, a network for women in produce, as an international advisory board member and volunteer marketer.
Julie Escobar, cofounder of Global Women Fresh, said Shuman is disciplined, focused and passionate.
They worked together at Sun World as well, said Escobar, also senior vice president of partnerships for Los Angeles-based Renewable Resource Group.
“Nat is probably one of the most intentional women I know. She is a strategic thinker, a leader in our industry who is smart, fun, kind and really great with people,” she said.
“The amount of work and results she has brought to Global Women Fresh are monumental. The sky’s the limit for Nat.”
For Shuman, Apeel Sciences offered an ideal mix of professional opportunity and personal development.
Shuman wants to shape the future of grocery retail through sustainable technology.
“The company is mission-based and has sustainability built into its DNA, and it allows you take your professional superpowers for good to a whole new level,” she said. “Reduce waste and create abundance? That really aligned with my values.”