Julie Smolyansky, 34, Lincoln Park
Smolyansky has helmed Lifeway Foods—the country’s leading manufacturer of kefir, a healthy, milk-based cultured drink—since her father passed away unexpectedly seven years ago. She confesses that her career goals initially veered far from the family business as she hoped to become a clinical psychologist, but she found her passion by applying behavior study to the food and nutrition business and hasn’t looked back.
Biggest challenge “I always feel like I’m strategizing or building or changing things. [At Lifeway,] as soon as we get things where we like it, it seems like we’ve outgrown it. We’re just trying to grow and to build and implement quick enough.”
Best piece of advice “The bottom line is that you have to do what you love. If you do what you love—whatever that is—you can be the best person, the best company, in that industry.”
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