Megan Stretton Pilgrim's

Source: Pilgrim’s UK

Name: Megan Stretton 

Age: 24

Job title: Commercial leadership graduate trainee

Company & location: Pilgrim’s UK, Bromborough

Education: BA Environment & Business, University of Leeds 

Why did you decide to go for a career in food & drink? When I completed my degree, I had the opportunity to take on one year’s experience as a social media entrepreneur. During this time, I was able to develop my skills in advertising, content creation and innovation strategy for brands including Wickes, DM&Co and Amazon. This experience uncovered my real passion for creating a buzz around products and seeing how far I could promote them through social media platforms and online. It’s always exciting to watch your idea go from nothing, to placing a product into the limelight and into the hands of customers. 

Explain your job to us in a sentence (or two): I joined in September 2022 and I’m currently undergoing an 18-month programme of various customer rotations, including with Tesco, Co-op, Aldi, Lidl, Morrisons and Asda

What does a typical day look like for you? My day-to-day responsibilities consist of managing budgets and supporting with new product development and innovations across our customer base. Every day is unique for me as I work with lots of different people and get the opportunity to tackle many exciting, diverse challenges. I also spend a lot of time upholding direct relationships with customers through social media campaigns and online product promotion. 

Tell us about how you went about applying for your job: I applied by sending my CV to Pilgrim’s UK in May 2022 after seeing a job advert on Indeed. I was invited to an online virtual assessment centre where I was assessed in group tasks and a 1:1 meeting with the assessor. In the same week I received an email to say I was successful, and I was invited to the in-person assessment centre at the new Bromborough site with 20 other candidates. We did icebreakers with the executive team, physical group building activities to showcase problem-solving skills and a 1:1 with two commercial customer directors – this is where your personality can really shine! The most challenging task was presenting with a group of other candidates on topics we prepared for beforehand. 

The day ended with a group dinner, and an overnight stay in a nearby hotel and restaurant where I talked to company representatives on a personal level to understand if they were a right match for me. Interviews are a two-way process – not only is the company looking to see if you will fit in well, but you can also decide if the company meets your needs.

“It’s always exciting to watch your idea go from nothing, to placing a product into the limelight and into the hands of customers”

What’s the best part about working for a food & drink company? For me, the best part of working in the food and drink industry is being able to brainstorm and design new products, create a buzz around them and watch them go from just an idea, to being stocked on shelves up and down the country. It’s such a fast-moving industry so this process tends to happen a lot. I’ve had direct responsibility for customer relationships from the get-go and have helped with category management and elements of brand management. It’s such a varied role. 

And what’s the biggest misconception people have about working in food & drink? My impression is that people assume that roles and routes into the food and drink sector are quite limited, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, there are so many different departments and people you’re involved with. Once you start to learn about the sector and become fully engrossed in working with products and customers, you realise that your work is affecting the day-to-day choices people make when it comes to choosing their lunchtime snack, for example. That quickly becomes very interesting. Working in food and drink also means keeping an eye on the latest innovations and consumer trends, which I think can surprise people. 

What advice would you give to other young people looking to get into the food & drink industry? Put yourself out there by being inquisitive, show enthusiasm in your character, and you’ll be amazed by how quickly you can learn from industry experts. Before you know it, you’ll be challenging them and adding value to the business.

What’s your ultimate career dream? I’d absolutely love to be a commercial or digital marketing director in the food and drink sector one day. I am really passionate about the value of digital growth through high-level marketing in the fmcg industry and I want to create fresh and inspiring ways to drive new customer channels to improve struggling categories.

To be completely honest, I see no reason why I can’t achieve and make it to the top. The graduate programme has given me every opportunity to reach for this. I also have a strong passion for inclusion, development and learning. My plan is to run workshops within the business that target knowledge gaps in different teams and help educate others to find information they wouldn’t necessarily receive in their day-to-day, and my first workshop launches this month! 

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