Lejla 2

Name: Lejla Damon 

Age: 30

Job title: Shopper marketing brand manager

Company & location: Kellogg’s, Manchester

Education: University for the Creative Arts, Advertising (BA Hons) and University of Salford, MBA in Business Administration

Why did you decide to go for a career in food? I originally got into the fmcg business whilst doing the MBA at Salford University. I had the opportunity to work on a live project alongside writing my dissertation. I have always been interested in sales and business, and I’ve always had an interest in the roles brands play within businesses. This has been the foundation of my career.

Explain your job to us in a sentence (or two): Kellogg’s is an exciting and fast-paced place to work – no two days are the same. My role as shopper marketing specialist is to work cross-functionally between the sales and marketing teams to deliver our marketing plans and enhance our amazing brands, and support bringing them to go live in store. We always have a packed plan for the year, whether that’s supporting on innovation or bringing to life our ESG programmes as part of our shopper marketing. We are never short of projects or initiatives to work on.

What does a typical day look like for you? Usually, I will get up at 6am to go to the gym – I’m a hardcore yoga practitioner. Then I start work at about 8am depending on whether I’m working from home or going into the office in MediaCity. MediaCity is a great place to work, we share this neighbourhood with other thriving businesses such as the BBC so there’s always so much going on. We work in an open space which makes me feel like I’m part of a community and can work closely with other teams when I go in. There’s also a free cereal bar every day, which is great as we can encourage colleagues to try the new NPD which has landed.

I find the hybrid working environment Kellogg’s offers is great for flexibility around my work/life balance. I have autonomy to manage my diary and can make the most of the benefits that working in the office and from home can give. My days are so varied. Sometimes I can be down with a customer presenting plans or giving updates, other times I’m in the office talking with R&D about innovations.

“Working with brands which were in my household growing up as a child has been an amazing experience”

Tell us how you went about applying for your job: When I applied for my role in 2018, it was as an intern to support the launch and activation of a new granola. Kellogg’s offers a lot of opportunities for internships and apprenticeships, and I was lucky enough to be chosen during my MBA course. I came to Kellogg’s for my interview, which was a sit-down face to face, to talk about the previous work I had done and my experience and interest in the role. For this interview there wasn’t a task or presentation needed and it was very much based on how I could demonstrate imagination and commitment. That interview was nearly five years ago now and I’ve had many different roles since. There is a lot of opportunity at Kellogg’s to move within the business and develop yourself.

What’s the best part about working for a food company? For me, working with brands which were in my household growing up as a child has been an amazing experience. It’s a real privilege to now be able to activate those skills and build them into my current role, knowing what great quality and value our products are. Also, how much they mean to consumers. The landscape seems to be changing so quickly with so many new products released every year, consumers’ lifestyles are changing and there isn’t a day that’s the same as the day before.

And what’s the biggest misconception people have about working in food & drink? I think one of the many big misconceptions about food is the amount of work that goes in behind the scenes when it comes to making or creating a product. Not only that, but how far out we work as a business. I have been lucky enough to go to the factory twice and it’s phenomenal the work, process and amount of thought that goes into each box of cereal or Pringles that is in your cupboard.

We have a team of nutritionists who analyse our food, maintain quality control checks to make sure it’s up to a high standard – I’m in awe at the amount of work our supply chain team does in making sure products land in store in time for our customers. There is a lot of thought that goes in behind every part of the creation of a household name like Kellogg’s. Sometimes I think when you see a pack in your house, you can easily forget how many business functions it touched before it got there.

What advice would you give to other young people looking to get into the food & drink industry? My one piece of advice on getting into fmcg is to not have a narrow view in terms of roles. Make sure you’re open to new experiences and the environment you’re working in. I started as an intern supporting the sales team with brand activation, but since then I have worked in operations, sales and now I have come full-circle back into a hybrid of both. I would say to someone just starting out to look for internships, apprenticeships and grad schemes because they are a great way of getting your foot in the door. Once you’re in, make sure you show up with the right kind of behaviours: being creative; proactive rather than reactive; and when you do make mistakes, which of course everyone does, learn fast, be humble and continue to push forward.

What’s your ultimate career dream? I recognise how privileged I have been in the career and education I’ve had so far. All the roles I have done have got me to where I am today, and I am really enjoying it. In terms of career dream, I feel passionately about the work Kellogg’s does through its breakfast clubs and ESG. I really want this year to make that side of our work bigger than it has been before and help to drive more support to those that need it the most.

Interested in finding out more about food & drink careers? Check out GrocerJobs for the latest vacancies