Sophie Hummer, Ph.D.

2020 STEP Ahead Honoree

Director, Product Insights
Brown-Forman Corporation

Manufacturing is the expression of a large team of people working together towards a common goal. Manufacturing produces tangible goods.  Being a leader in manufacturing is a multi-faceted job where soft and hard skills are necessary to be successful.

As global director of product insights for Brown-Forman, Sophie is responsible for a number of key production initiatives, including the development of new global whiskey products and the sensory evaluation and optimization of the company’s entire product line. Under her leadership, the work of Sophie’s cross-functional team has resulted in significant improvements to the whiskey maturation process, from color and flavor development to yield. These improvements optimize the whiskey’s quality while saving Brown-Forman more than a million dollars per year.

During her 30 years in the field of sensory science, Sophie has served as a leader in such professional organizations as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) where she works with peers on publishing Standards and Practices for the field and she has been published widely. Always one to share her time and experience with others, Sophie gladly helps those who are newer to the field through formal and informal mentoring. Over the past few years, she has taken leadership roles in a variety of Brown-Forman employee resource groups. Most notably, she has been a key leader of GROW (Grow Remarkable Outstanding Women), which is focused on the growth and development of women at Brown-Forman. She has also been an active member in COPA (Creating Our Path), which focus is on the growth and development of Latino team members and in BUILD (Blacks United in Leadership and Development).

In the community, Sophie is the Chair of the Board for New Roots, a nonprofit working to provide fresh food access to food deserts and underserved neighborhoods. Fresh Stop Markets, New Roots’ main initiatives, are run by volunteer leaders in a grassroots food justice movement based on the belief that fresh food is a basic human right. Under Sophie’s leadership, New Roots has grown to over 17 Fresh Stop markets locally and serves over 1,700 local families. Sophie also volunteers with the Dare to Care food bank, Habitat for Humanity and Uspiritus.