Degree studied at?
Wolverhampton Business School/ Penn State University, USA.Brief job description
Responsible for Communications Strategy and its implementation (ensuring that all relevant audiences are identified, information requirements understood, messages agreed, communication arrangements put in place, results monitored and adjustments made as appropriate). This includes IT strategies (web sites, intranet, email systems), identity, corporate literature (directories, events calendars, key news flows), site communication audits, exhibitions and key audience presentations, export co-ordination, initial new customer co-ordination, PR agency co-ordination, trade mark registration and co-ordination of brands, representation on selected trade bodies.
My career so far…
AT MANOR BREWERY 1962 – 68 independent / 1965 – 82 associate company of HJ HEINZ
Bottling Hall assistant then manager
AT HAZLEWOOD FOODS 1982 – DATE (from 2001 part of the GREENCORE GROUP)
Group Sales manager
Group Sales and Marketing manager (UK and overseas involvement)
Director of Corporate Affairs
(Also at various times a non-executive director of a number of Hazlewood UK and overseas subsidiaries)
What does your job involve in a typical day?
Firstly I look at the outside world (news and relevant highlights). The day is then structured around specific projects and meetings according to priorities. It could include looking at the objectives, budgets and designs for a forthcoming exhibition and discussion with relevant Hazlewood companies, following up on a trade mark infringement case, preparing one of our regular internal news releases, making proposals for a major retailer presentation or working on email standardization.
At the same time there will be a steady stream of immediate response tasks arising, some to be delegated and others to be `parked` for later action. Typical of these would be approving a press
feature, advising of a new product award, speaking to a regional paper regarding an event at a local factory and discussing a forthcoming presentation with a business group managing director. I find email an essential tool and (unless submerged in a project) will read and respond quickly to each believing that a brief exchange while both parties are on the same subject can more effectively despatch an issue into the `done` category!However it may be one of my days out, visiting a factory for instance. In this case I will have programmed people I plan to meet and prepared an agenda for the subjects to be covered. It might be for a communications audit where I will be looking to see how the communication cascade is working and what feedback is being received. We will also look to pinpoint areas of management concern such as a recruitment problem for instance and see if there are communication or PR solutions. A big part of the role is helping to co-ordinate activities so we may be looking at how the corporate identity guidelines are being implemented or what inputs are to be made to Hazlewood`s house magazine `On the Menu`. Alternatively I could have meetings outside of Hazlewood, perhaps chairing an East Midlands NGBF meeting (where a number of like-minded executives from manufacturing and retail plan fund raising events for our trade charity) followed by a meeting with our design agency.
What however never changes is that every day is different and that’s what makes it so rewarding.
What do you like most about your job?
I particularly enjoy the challenges of handling a mix of pre-planned projects and `out-of-the-blue` issues, the need to be creative but disciplined and the opportunity that the job gives to meet lots of interesting people in different situations.
When I started out in my career I aimed for three key objectives that would make it fulfilling. I wanted my work to be varied and creative, to have personal control of prioritising my daily workload, and to always have a key to the main door where I worked. I achieved all three although more recently I gave up the latter due to the complexities of the burglar alarm!
What skills are required in you job?
I have been fortunate in holding many different positions during my career and this helps me to understand the needs and attitudes of those working in different functions in both large and small organizations. This is useful background but there are a number of other skills which are important.
The ability to handle a variety of tasks at the same time and carry a great deal of information in ones head. Looking at the bigger picture. Listening to different views and knowing the odd occasion when you need to ignore all of them! Knowing when to speak and when to keep silent. Self-motivation to head-off down new and productive avenues. Motivating others towards your agenda. Confidence and a smile.
How many people work for you?
A wonderfully resilient Communications Manager and a fantastic PA.
What is your advice to people looking for a career in the food and grocery industry?
To start with try and get as broad an experience of the Industry as you can before making any job limiting choices. Job satisfaction is more about HOW you operate than WHAT you do. Be positive, friendly and professional.
Opportunities often come at unexpected times and from unexpected quarters, don`t try and pre-plan everything. Years ago my one objective was to join the Diplomatic Service and become an Ambassador – in the strangest of ways that`s almost where I have ended up!