Lici Sawyer BOL Foods

Name: Lici Sawyer

Age: 26

Job title: Junior brand manager

Company & location: Bol Foods, London

Education: BA in Spanish, University of Southampton 

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Growing up I wanted to be an interpreter for the police. I’ve always had a passion for languages and always envisioned pursuing a role which is pivotally a communicator.

Why did you decide to go for a career in food & drink? In my final year of university, I decided to do a business module outside of languages, called international retailing, to broaden my horizons post-graduating. I was hooked on the consumer insights aspect as to why certain supermarkets failed in their global expansion outside of the UK, vs how some European supermarkets succeeded in their expansion into the UK with their appeal to the British consumer.

After this, I decided I wanted to work in the food and drink industry but pursue a role that would allow me to be a communicator as per my language skills.

“The skillset I gained from a languages degree made me a confident communicator and is key to being a successful brand manager”

Explain your job to us in a sentence (or two): Being a brand manager is all about advocating for who your consumer is, what they want, and driving growth of your product market through both data-driven insights and creative marketing activations.

What does a typical day look like for you? So varied! One day I’m working with the innovation team in producing the best possible NPD, the next I’m deep diving into retailer performance working with the commercial team on how we can drive growth for our product markets.

But day-to-day involves running consumer testing, gathering insights and working on brand strategy both for the year ahead and long-term.

Tell us about how you went about applying for your job: I applied through The Copy Club, a leading marketing recruitment agency which I’ve always trusted for sourcing roles on behalf of companies with fantastic work cultures. There was an initial conversation with the recruiters to see if my experience matched what Bol was looking for and then a digital interview with Bol’s senior brand manager, Hollie Fox, who would be my line manager – a get to know you and your background style interview, learning about what the role entails.

Bol Foods

Next was a presentation to head of brand & marketing, Jessica Vara, and last, a conversation with CEO, Paul Brown, for a culture fit check.

What’s the best part about working for a food & drink company? For me it’s the innovation and seeing this through from conception to launch.

There is something so satisfying about kicking off a new product launch with a big insights and category cross-functional session, working with the innovation team to bring the recipe to life, working with our designer to bring the packaging to life, and nine months later seeing it on shelf in your local supermarket. It’s a great feeling.

And what’s the biggest misconception people have about working in food & drink? The time it takes to launch a new product to market.

When you don’t work in food and drink, things like packaging lead times and retailer range review windows would never cross your mind! Launching a new product has to fit into so many variables, hence brands celebrating when they land a listing for a new product, getting to see it finally on shelf almost a year later!

What advice would you give to other young people looking to get into the food & drink industry? Show curiosity for the industry and demonstrate how your skillset works for the role you’re applying for.

Going for marketing jobs post-university, I always found myself up against people whose degrees were in business or marketing. But the skillset I gained from a languages degree made me a confident communicator and is key to being a successful brand manager working with every function in the business.

Find your USP, do your research on what the latest is in the world of food and drink, and be passionate about the role you want/the team you want to be a part of!

What’s your ultimate career dream? I would love to head my own team in brand one day. I’ve got great mentors at Bol and seeing the way they teach and the investment they put into my own development, I would love to be able to give that back to marketeers starting out in their careers in the future.

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