How did you get where you are today? I began my career in marketing working for HarperCollins, the publishing arm of Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. I have held various commercial and category marketing roles in fmcg, including a stint as a buyer at Iceland. I always wanted to specialise in category marketing and was fortunate to secure a role about five years ago working on the Chicago Town brand at Schwan's Consumer Brands. I've been there ever since.
What was the best decision you have made in your career and why? My spell in buying. It gave me incredible insight into the realities of life in a retailer. I understand what makes retailers tick and this has been essential to relationship building.
Who do you most admire in the grocery industry? Anyone who starts their own business. When you stop to think about the level of risk involved you'd be forgiven for thinking twice.
Do you have a mentor and how have they helped you in your career? My father has been a great support. He is a lawyer and his intuitive ability to both understand human behaviour and help me appreciate the full implications of decision-making have helped me make some tricky choices.
What is the most important piece of information you have ever been told? "Retail is detail." It's incredibly cringe-worthy but totally true. If I'm going to do something, no matter how important or trivial, then I'll give it 101% and get my hands dirty with the detail.
If you could change one thing in the grocery industry what would it be? Supermarkets should be successful because they sell carefully targeted products that meet carefully researched shoppers needs, not by demanding payments from their supplier base for unsubstantiated reasons.
What is the most rewarding part of your job? Identifying genuine consumer needs. Many retailers are frustrated by hearing about products that meet an apparent consumer need when in reality they have only been designed to meet a manufacturing one.
What is the one thing that you could not do your job without? My husband. If it wasn't for his unending support I'm not sure I could muster the energy and passion I believe I bring to my work.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry today? Prepare for relentless and sometimes dramatic change, learn to be a pragmatist and develop a healthy sense of humour.
What do you like doing when you are not working? Cheering on Bolton Wanderers.