Name: Rahul Vora
Job title: Senior brand manager
Company & location: Jacobs Douwe Egberts
Education: University of Warwick, BSc Economics
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be an artist. As I got older, I knew I just needed to do something in the creative space. Nowadays, painting is my hobby!
Why did you decide to go for a career in food & drink? I’m a massive foodie and have a natural affinity to anything to do with food and drink. For me, food and drink offer a great occasion for people to connect. I’m passionate about brands, and the connection brands and products have with people, so marketing was the ideal career path for me.
I love working at JDE as we’ve got a wide range of brands with unique personalities and different brand purposes. From a local heritage brand like Kenco to a global luxury brand like L’Or, they offer very different opportunities, and it’s exciting to immerse yourself in different brands and categories.
Explain your job to us in a sentence (or two): At JDE, we focus on coffee. I’m accountable for the L’Or portfolio across beans and capsules, covering both in-home and away-from-home channels. This includes developing creative, launching innovation, being accountable for in-market performance, as well as ensuring we have a portfolio fit for growth across channels. I get to do a bit of everything, which is why I love it!
“Brands can help drive meaningful change and the impact you can have on a global level is really powerful”
What does a typical day look like for you? It sounds clichéd but no two days are the same, but that is what I love about working here. It’s a mix of cross-functional team meetings, market analysis, but also a huge amount of creativity.
One day you are thinking about pack design, the next discussing future NPD and some of the best days are when you bring a new product to market. There’s a huge emphasis on connectivity, both with local and global colleagues as well, so I’m constantly in contact with stakeholders throughout the business. Our consumers are really passionate about coffee, and I love working together to find new ways to excite them, be that via innovation or activation.
Tell us about how you went about applying for your job: I found the job on LinkedIn, and it was a very quick process that consisted of two stages – an interview and a case study. I found the process very streamlined, which took away some of the nerves. The communication throughout was great and although there were a few tough questions, it was clear that everyone within the team was very passionate about the company, which hugely resonated with me.
What’s the best part about working for a food & drink company? You never have to worry about having a rubbish office coffee at JDE!
But on a more serious note, the reason why I came into this company and industry in the first place is because consumers are genuinely passionate about coffee. Consumers love our brands, and having a cup of coffee is such an important part of their day. The fact that consumers are so engaged and passionate about coffee gives me so much energy as a marketer.
I particularly enjoy bringing our innovations to market; earlier this year I supported the team in launching our new range of Kenco plant-based specialty coffees, and last year, worked on the launch of our innovative Kenco Iced Hot specialty coffees – one of my biggest career highlights. The launch of Kenco Iced Hot was supported by the first TikTok campaign for JDE. It was a great example of testing, learning and really connecting and collaborating as a cross-functional team.
And what’s the biggest misconception people have about working in food & drink? People thinking that the industry is static, and a ‘coffee is just a coffee’! It’s the complete opposite. The industry moves very quickly, and you need to constantly not only innovate but look at yourself as a brand and continuously challenge yourself and think, ‘am I being as relevant as possible with our consumers?’.
What advice would you give to other young people looking to get into the food & drink industry? If you’re passionate about food & drink, you should absolutely go for it because it just means you will push yourself, and others, to do better. I’d also look to work for a company that offers you different experiences.
I’ve been quite lucky to have had quite a few different experiences from sales to different areas of marketing, all of which have really helped me to broaden my perspective. I think it’s good to try new things and really push yourself because this is the best time to get out of your comfort zone.
What’s your ultimate career dream? I would love to be working on a brand, ideally, at a global level, as you can reach millions, if not billions of people, both with amazing products, but also connecting with them on a deeper, emotional level. I believe brands can help drive meaningful change and the impact you can have on a global level is really powerful. I have already been able to experience some of that here at JDE with our sustainability campaigns and it’s something I would love to continue doing.