Zoe Watson

Name: Zoë Watson

Age: 24

Job title: Junior brand manager

Company & location: Noble Foods, Staines-Upon-Thames

Education: BSC Food Technology & Product Development, Harper Adams University

Why did you decide to go for a career in food & drink? I’ve always known that I wanted to work somewhere in the food and drink industry. It was the specific role within the industry that remained the question. My love of food and cooking from a young age sparked my first career dream of owning my own bakery and as time went on, I became more interested in the products on the shelves and the innovation behind them.

Once I discovered the many food courses available at university, my decision was made and I began studying at Harper Adams. It was there that I really discovered the wide range of roles available in the industry and it was difficult to choose just one to specialise in. It wasn’t until my placement year where I discovered marketing, following an internship at The Coconut Collaborative. I thoroughly enjoyed my year there and afterwards I knew exactly which direction in the industry I wanted to take.

Explain your job to us in a sentence (or two): As the brand manager for two of Noble Foods’ esteemed egg brands, Freshlay and Big & Fresh, my focus is to make sure that the brands are always delivering against our brand strategies.

A key part of that is developing annual brand plans and generating ideas for future marketing activities, which could achieve our goals in the best ways. I then execute these plans throughout the year – monitoring and adapting our plans as necessary in the ever-changing fmcg environment.

What does a typical day look like for you? As with any marketing role, especially one in the food and drink space, my days can be really varied. That’s what I love about it. Day to day, I continually monitor the progress of my brands and our competitors throughout the market and keep a close eye on new and emerging trends. 

I work closely with our media agencies to ensure all brand communications are created and executed properly, while ensuring that our brands are always resonating well with consumers. Internally, regular communication with our sales and category teams is important for me to help optimise our brands’ performance in each of our retailers.

“Do a year in industry while at university. It helps you discover what the industry is really like and what’s involved in the day-to-day of different roles” 

Tell us about how you went about applying for your job: I started applying for graduate roles in my final year of university. I first discovered the job at Noble Foods via LinkedIn and after submitting my CV and cover letter, I had an initial phone interview with one of the wonderful recruitment managers. After that I had a Teams interview with the marketing manager, who was interested in my perspective and the hands-on learning I’d gained from my placement experience. For my second interview, I was asked to prepare a presentation analysing the social media strategy of The Happy Egg Co brand. 

As social media had been a big part of my placement year at The Coconut Collaborative, I was able to go into it with a little bit of confidence. 

What’s the best part about working for a food & drink company? The best part is being able to see everything you’ve worked on come to life. For example, I ran a seasonal packaging project for The Happy Egg Co, and finally seeing the packs appear on supermarket shelves was exciting and completely rewarding. I love seeing this happen across any marketing activity I’ve been a part of. I also enjoy looking at what other brands have done in market and learning from their ideas too. 

And what’s the biggest misconception people have about working in food & drink? People might not understand how much background goes into getting a product to market and how many different people are involved at each stage. Also, how much advance planning there is to creating any new products or even small adjustments – these things don’t just appear overnight! 

What advice would you give to other young people looking to get into the food & drink industry? My advice would be to try and get as much experience, in as many different roles as possible. It really opens your eyes to the variety of roles available and the different types of food and drink companies there are in the UK. For example, when I was 16, I spent one week on the production line of a sausage factory and it was really interesting to see how it they were actually produced.

Another key piece of advice is to do a year in industry while at university. It helps you discover what the industry is really like and what’s involved in the day-to-day of different roles. The experience is also very valuable when you come to apply for graduate roles. 

What’s your ultimate career dream? I think my ultimate dream would be to create my own food brand and see it in the hands of consumers (don’t ask me what yet!). But for now, I just want to keep gaining as much experience in marketing as possible which might help me eventually reach my ultimate goal.

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