Name: Roseanna Evans
Job title: Marketing & commercial consultant
Company & location: HRA Global, Devon
Education: BA Hons Politics, University of Exeter, Chartered Institute of Marketing
Why did you decide to go for a career in food? A bit of a cliché but I kind of ‘fell into’ food – I was looking to stay in the south west for a few more years after university and I knew that marketing and consumer insight/research was something I was interested in. I found the job through the university careers service – it just so happened that it was in fmcg, but I’m incredibly glad it is.
Explain your job to us in a sentence (or two): Very difficult as my role really is so varied! I’m a consultant, working closely with our clients (almost as a part of their team) helping them plan, develop and execute their marketing and commercial strategies.
What does a typical day look like for you? In food and drink no two days are the same – and this is particularly true of consultancy! What a day looks like really depends on what projects we are working on – for example brand development projects, marketing strategy development, commercial consulting or our own HRA marketing. I’m usually working on several projects at the same time, which keeps me busy! Pre-Covid I also spent a lot of time out of the office as well – I was fortunate enough to travel a lot, both within and outside of the UK, meeting clients, holding workshops, attending trade shows and conferences and delivering presentations and panel talks – I had to get over my fear of public speaking pretty early on, and now I really enjoy it.
“I’m usually working on several projects at the same time which keeps me busy”
Tell us about how you went about applying for your job. I found the job on my university careers service and liked it. While writing my application, the job actually closed early, but I sent my application off anyway. I then got a call from Hamish (Renton, our MD) on the Tuesday evening, inviting me to the first interview day, just 12 hours later – Wednesday morning! I passed that stage and I was invited back to the second assessment day the next day, Thursday. Following this, Hamish called me on Friday morning telling me I’d got the job. I was halfway through writing my dissertation and it was quite a surreal time.
The assessment centre itself was quite challenging – there were five other candidates and the highlight was having 30 minutes to read through a mountain of material on a specialist food topic we’d never have heard of, and then prepare a Dragons’ Den-style marketing presentation on it. Luckily mine seemed to go well and the team were far nicer than the Dragons on TV!
What’s the best part about working for a food company? For me it’s really the diversity of projects and the fast-paced nature of the industry – I like that you get to see projects come to market faster than you would in a lot of industries – NPD moves so quickly. Trends are always evolving and changing and it’s really exciting to stay on top of them. I love the teamwork – we have a really diverse team of extroverts and introverts, specialists and generalists and we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
The variety of work is also so different – whilst I specialise in marketing and commercial services, I also frequently work across other areas like market research and supply chain.
And what’s the biggest misconception people have about working in food & drink? I think people think working in food & drink will be boring – they perhaps don’t realise how innovative and varied the industry is. I also think there might be a misconception that there aren’t many young people in the sector, which also couldn’t be further from the truth! We’re a young and young-at-heart team and there is so much good-natured banter.
What advice would you give to other young people looking to get into the food & drink industry? I personally think there are two ways to go about this:
The first would be to find a niche that you are already particularly interested in – for example sports nutrition if you are a keen athlete. Research brands and companies in the space and reach out to them. Being already interested and knowledgeable in the sector will really make you stand out, and it’s easier to understand and get under the skin of the consumer if you purchase that brand yourself.
The second is – and I might be biased – through consultancy. Operating across sectors within food and drink is a fantastic way to gain knowledge across different areas within the sector, for example supply chain, sales, commercial, strategy and NPD.
What’s your ultimate career dream? My ultimate career dream honestly changes every few months – but I definitely want to stay in fmcg and maybe specialise further in the areas that especially interest me, such as nutrition & health.