Packaging & Ingredients Innovation Manager
What qualifications have you achieved?
Four A Levels
BA Hons Degree in Business & Politics
How did you come to work in this role?
During my university degree I had a sandwich year, where I worked for McDonalds in London at their headquaters. I worked in the supply chain department, learning how to buy anything from straws to beef burgers. I also undertook projects to ‘lightweight’ the packaging around the burgers (moving from foams to paper wraps), removing the paper from straws (which then got replaced for health and safety reasons) and also designing and implementing the new uniform for all store staff. The placement was for 13 months (initially 12 months and they asked me to stay an extra month to train up the next placement).
After university I went to live in America for 8 months and then went travelling in Australia. During this time I continued to work within the food industry, mostly working in restaurants in America (fish based, and Michelin star equivalents), spending my days off discussing recipes and ingredients with the chefs.
Upon returning to the UK I took a position at Sealord Caistor Ltd as a Trainee Packaging Buyer. The position involved artwork origination, packaging innovation and buying all packaging items needs for the site. The site was a dedicated Waitrose fish factory covering wet fish, ready meals and coated fish. After a year I became the packaging and ingredients buyer for the site taking over responsibility for all buying and innovation.
After 5 years I moved to Coldwater to further my career. I took the role of Packaging and Ingredients Buyer, and was responsible for innovation and buying, plus managing the Packaging Technologists who originate and sign off artwork. After 3 years this role became too large and was split into buying and innovation. I moved to the New Product Development team to head up packaging and ingredients innovation, still being responsible for the artwork team, but focusing more on the future and trends within the market place.
During my working career I have taken various night school courses at the local university including cooking, presentation skills, wine appreciation and A level photography. All have helped me in my career, exploring my love of food and using this on a daily basis in my job.
What types of activities does your job entail?
My current role involves reviewing trends on packaging and ingredients, working with suppliers to create new innovative packaging ideas, and presenting my findings to the business. I manage the Packaging Technologists who cover everything from factory trials and travel tests, to artwork sign off.
I work closely with the chefs to create new recipe ideas that are practical, functional, work in our factory but that also have a ‘wow’ factor.
I also work on a lot of projects to reduce packaging (PLAN A) and on any company promotional activities such as open days.
How did you first become interested in this field of work?
I love food; cooking, eating and entertaining, so my role combines my passion with my job!
McDonalds allowed me to take the first steps into a food based career and all subsequent jobs have followed the same path.
What are the most interesting aspects of your role?
Every day is different. One day I can be at a show sourcing new ingredients from all over the world, and the next day I am stood on the factory line discussing with Production Managers how to package a product to ensure it gets to store, and more importantly home to the customer, in one piece.
What are the most challenging aspects of your role?
Working with all different departments and levels, plus managing a team. Each person I speak with has a different view point and therefore trying to combine these to ultimately get the best result for the company and the retailer can be challenging!
Back to top