Name: Alexis Poole
Job title: nutrition manager
Company: Spoon Guru, London
Education: Nutrition BSc, King’s College London
Why did you decide to go for a career in food?
I believe it is incredibly important for the food industry to ensure that nutrition information and guidance given to consumers is evidence-based and credible
I have always been passionate about helping individuals eat a balanced diet, whatever their preferences or requirements. The retail industry has the potential to influence behaviour change and encourage healthier eating patterns, and being able to make a positive impact for so many consumers was what attracted me to working in this area. I believe it is incredibly important for the food industry to ensure that nutrition information and guidance given to consumers is evidence-based and credible, and not just based on the latest trends or ingredient with no proven health benefits.
Explain your job to us in a sentence (or two)
I am responsible for translating scientific information, including public health government guidelines, through Spoon Guru’s technology. My role spans design, development, quality assurance and marketing of our products and services, and our underlying consumer search optimisation platform.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Startups are known for being lively - no day or week is the same, which means you never know what big project is around the corner. Every day starts with meetings: the first is a stand-up with our technology team, who are based all over the world. We touch base every morning to make sure we’re all on track, and if anything unforeseen arises, we re-prioritise there and then. Because my role spans across all areas of the business, a meeting with the product and marketing team follows. I then catch up with our nutritionists and the day is ready to begin! My day can involve anything from solving technical issues, configuring new diets, writing for media publications, attending meetings to discuss new partnerships, building relationships with nutritionists in the industry at events, or R&D to assist our commercial team.
Tell us about how you went about applying for your job. What was the process like?
The toughest part about getting that first job out of university is the lack of work experience. My university offered a placement year working in the industry but unfortunately I didn’t do this - looking back it probably would have made getting my first job a lot easier. Spoon Guru needed an extra pair of hands and I was eager to work for the startup and build my experience, so I started immediately on a temporary basis. Because I built a relationship with the company and thoroughly understood its systems, it was natural that my role then became permanent. I truly see the value in getting work experience in a company you would love to work for - the hard work will pay off eventually.
What’s the best part about working for a food company?
The foodtech startup industry is fascinating and innovative, and it continues to flourish
As a nutritionist I was always going to work in food, but Spoon Guru has certainly changed my thoughts on the food and retail industry. Individuals face so many personal barriers to eating, be it a food intolerance, lifestyle diet, or even factors such as time or money. Knowing that I am working for a company that is addressing these issues, helping people lead healthier and happier lives, is what makes me work as hard as I can in my job. The foodtech startup industry is fascinating and innovative, and it continues to flourish. Technology is the future and it’s empowering to see individuals looking for ways to tackle food-related issues through these platforms.
What’s the biggest misconception people have about working in food & drink?
That your only option to have an impact and be successful is to is to work for big corporations. There are so many startups shaking up the food industry. Big companies are increasingly seeking innovative technologies to solve issues, which gives small companies the opportunity to make a massive impact. Joining a small company at its beginning has meant that I have had control over my role and so my progression has been fairly rapid. I’ve had to be self-sufficient and tenacious about my personal development, which is why working in a startup may not be for everyone. If it is for you, there are so many interesting businesses for you to make of it what you can. I would certainly recommend taking the leap to work for a smaller company in an industry dominated by the bigger players.
What advice would you give to other young people looking to get into the food & drink industry?
It’s ok to seek help and advice when you are feeling challenged.
Don’t let your age hold you back! If you are experienced within your role, are passionate about your job and work hard, then there is no reason for your age to be a barrier to your success. It may be useful to reach out to someone who is in a similar role to you, with more experience. Having a mentor has certainly been pivotal for my personal development. It’s ok to seek help and advice when you are feeling challenged. Get connected now. Reach out to people whose roles interest you and ask for advice - how did they get there, and what experience did they need? Figure out what you can do to get to a similar position. Sometimes it’s hard for startups to offer work experience as they may not have time or resources for training. Even if you don’t start out working within a startup you love, get any experience you can - it could be a stepping stone.
What’s your ultimate career dream?
I love to travel, experience different cultures, and work with people from completely different backgrounds to me. There is so much more to learn about the world, and being able to explore the nutritional requirements and dietary patterns across different territories is very appealing to me. We’re actually gearing up to launch our company in the USA towards the end of the year - it seems my ultimate career dream could become a reality sooner than anticipated!