Fragrance Notes Issue 2, 2018 - Page 7

FEATURE FULFILLING A FAMILY LEGACY OF SCENT SCIENCE & INNOVATION Bedoukian Research’s Robert Bedoukian, Ph.D. Robert “Bob” Bedoukian, Ph.D., President of Bedoukian Research and son of Paul “Doc” Bedoukian, Ph.D., founder of the company and a legend in flavor and fragrance, wasn’t always planning on following in his father’s footsteps. A long-time member of the Board of Directors for the Fragrance Creators Association and the Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM), Bob eventually made his own path to the family business and, along the way, has gained more than 40 years of experience and lessons in leading his company and the industry through many successes, hurdles, and moments of uncertainty. We spoke with him about his open, collaborative, and even-keeled approach to leadership, business, advocacy, and science. MAKING HIS OWN PATH “First, I got embarrassed. Then I got angry. Then I got serious.” “I have memories of my father bringing blotters home to smell all the time, but I didn’t take it all that seriously,” says Bob. In their home in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, Bob recalls that his father, also a chemist, spent the evenings “pouring over chemical abstracts, cutting out references to the flavors and fragrances, and then compiling them into an annual review article in the Perfumer & Flavorist (which started as American Perfumer). He was extremely proud that he published articles entitled, ‘Perfumery & Flavoring Materials from 1945-1994,’ as well as ‘Perfumery Synthetics and Isolates,’ published in 1951, which with its second and third editions were used all over the world by people getting started in our industry.” As he got older, Bob spent summers working at his father’s tiny chemistry lab at Compagnie Parento, where Paul worked until he founded Bedoukian Research in 1972. Even though he says he thought it was all rather boring at the time, Bob still remembers looking forward to the steak with an onion ring on top that he would have with his father on their lunch break. From a young age, Bob’s passion was in GET TO KNOW BOB –– FAVORITE SUMMERTIME MEAL: Cedar plank Scottish salmon on the barbeque FAVORITE PLACE TO ESCAPE TO: His house on Cape Cod WHEN HE’S NOT WORKING, HE ENJOYS: Spending time with his three grandsons and exercising electronics. He would spend hours building radios with his father, eventually becoming an amateur, or ham, radio operator. “I started college at Tufts University in engineering, fully expecting to choose electrical engineering for my career,” he says. But Bob blames FOMO (fear of missing out) for his ending up in the chemistry field. “When we were told after freshman year that if we wanted to choose chemical engineering we had to decide ‘now,’ I made the jump.” Later, at Purdue University, while pursuing his Ph.D., Bob says he had an awakening after performing poorly on one of his first oral exams. “That was the best thing that ever happened to me,” he says. “It changed my attitude completely. At first, I got embarrassed. Then I got angry. Then I got serious.” COLLABORATION TAKES DISCIPLINE “I’m the opposite of a zero-sum person.” As a result of that determination, Bob graduated with a Ph.D. in Chemistry and joined the family business. Today, he is at the helm of the family company, where his sons, Matt Bedoukian, Ph.D., and David Bedoukian, also are in leadership roles. While he admits he may not be the most talkative in company or industry meetings, he is always listening and considering if or how his input may be impactful. “I like to participate and help when I think I’m actually adding something to the conversation or the organization,” he says. In leadership, his core traits of openness, collaboration, and logic serve him well. “For running a company, these attributes are essential,” he says. “Employees have to trust you; businesses and other partners have Issue 2, 2018 | FRAGRANCENOTES.ORG | 7