christie webb caleno

Name: Christie Webb

Age: 25

Job title: Operations manager

Company & location: Caleño Drinks, Bristol

Education: BA (Hons) Marketing Management, Lancaster University.

Why did you decide to go for a career in food? I was naturally drawn to the food and drinks industry, as cooking is definitely a passion of mine, and I love keeping up with the latest trends and following food bloggers. There is so much innovation in food and drink, that I find it really exciting.

Explain your job to us in a sentence (or two): I manage operations for Caleño, which is a distilled tropical non-alcoholic spirit. This involves overseeing the production, working with suppliers and customers, managing the supply chain and, also our innovation pipeline.

What does a typical day look like for you? The great thing about working at Caleño is the fact that it is only one year old, and growing so quickly, which means the day-to-day is so varied. We’re just a small team of six (and our lovely office dog Hardy!). This means you just have to get stuck into all aspects of growing a startup, which involves learning so much on the job.

A lot of my role involves careful planning ahead, scheduling productions based on our forecasts, and keeping a close eye on inventory, costs and stock levels, as there’s nothing worse than being out of stock! I’m also working on some exciting new launches, so all things involved in getting a new product to market on time.

“My older sister Ellie founded Caleño, so I’ve had the privilege of seeing it grow from the very start”

Tell us about how you went about applying for your job. My older sister Ellie founded Caleño, so I’ve had the privilege of seeing it grow from the very start. She’s a big inspiration, as only three months after launching, Caleño was stocked nationwide in Sainsbury’s!

I spent a week assisting her with the day-to-day when it launched in Sainsbury’s. At the end of this week, I quit my existing job of three years at Müller Yogurts to work full-time as her first employee! It’s been such a big learning curve since, as I’ve had the opportunity to work in all aspects of growing a startup from the get-go.

What’s the best part about working for a food company? It’s such an innovative industry, so never a dull day! I love speaking to our consumers at events and hearing their positive feedback.

And what’s the biggest misconception people have about working in food & drink? There’s so much that goes into getting a new product to market, especially in such a competitive industry. It requires a lot of perseverance. Caleño took years of refinement, building the brand and getting ready for sale, so when you finally see it in a big store, or people enjoying a Caleño & tonic in a bar, it’s such a rewarding feeling for the whole team.

What advice would you give to other young people looking to get into the food & drink industry? I would say finding a role/brand that you’re passionate about is key. Networking in the industry is a great way to find out more about different roles and brands, and get advice. I’d also say don’t be afraid to try out roles in areas that aren’t your background, as there is so much you can learn on the job.

What’s your ultimate career dream? I love seeing Caleño grow, so would love to keep being a part of this incredible journey. There are exciting plans to launch Caleño internationally, so this would be a great project to manage. Also, it’s such early days with the new product development side of things, that I would love to focus on this more, exploring new trends and coming up with disruptive products.

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