Job Title
Marketing Operations ManagerName: Lee Rolston

Company: Interbrew UK Ltd

Professional Qualification(s):
9 GCSEs, 4 A levels, BA Hons in Business Studies

Degree studied at
Sheffield UniversityBrief job description
I’m responsible for promotional activity across the brands, planning activity and appropriate execution in our customers’ retail outlets.

My career so far…
After graduating I spent 18 months travelling. When I came back, I joined Whitbread Beer Company – as it was then – as a Sales Executive, looking after retailers and small wholesalers. It was important for me to be doing a real job from day one – going in at this level gave me a real understanding of what stores need and knocked all the rough edges off me. I got a good insight into my company’s culture and what it wants to achieve. We were incentivised to achieve targets with cash and leisure vouchers which was great as the role could often be very demanding – it made it all worthwhile!

After 18 months, I became a Key Accounts Executive, which meant I sold to the biggest value wholesalers within the Midlands. This role was more commercial and was all about building long-term relationships and all-round business planning. I had to educate the retailer to buy earlier, particularly making sure that stocks were always available over the busy Christmas period, to maximise sales for them, for the wholesaler, and for us.

At the same time, Interbrew also financed my study for the Chartered Institute of Marketing Diploma and gave me time off to study. After 14 months, I moved into my current position.

What does your job involve in a typical day?
I’m essentially a knowledge centre for process and execution. I support the business so that they can execute things on time and to budget. That means that most of my time is spent planning business activity with the retail sector and campaign planning with the brand sector, working across all kinds of areas ­ packs, manufacturing, production, promotional activity.

The day is often varied and is a balance between planned long-term activity and planning for the unplanned. For example, England might have got through to the semi-finals or the weather might be unexpectedly nice and there’s an opportunity to sell a lot more beer. It’s my job is decide which brands to sell. If it’s a sports event, for instance, I need to know who might want to be associated with it. Then I have to think about whether we can supply the volume and take into consideration things like the barcoding system the customer uses and the delivery requirements. I use consumer insight information to look at the most relevant pack design and format – taking into account whether it has to fit into a domestic fridge, for example.

What do you like most about your job?
This is probably the best role you could have – you get real responsibility and you touch all parts of the business. It gives you a living insight into the marketing and sales functions and there are some great European opportunities ­ I’m starting to see the effects of working across the business. It’s varied too – the reactionary bit is exciting, but you also get the diversity of longer-term planning and precise execution.

People are passionate about the brands they work for, including me. It’s a great environment to work in ­ there’s a good team ethic and it’s a hardworking but fun culture. I run the football team and Stella have just sponsored our new kit!

What skills are required in your job?
You’ve got to be focused on business growth and really understand the long-term vision of brands. You need to be organised and good at prioritising and working under pressure. And you have to know how to work with a very broad range of people, often to several different agendas.

How many people work for you?
None. There’s a very flat structure here, focused on business sectors and brands. Išm a facilitator rather than a doer.

What is your advice to people looking for a career in the food and grocery industry?
Take every opportunity to gain commercial awareness. Join a company with good brands and a strong track record of training, like Interbrew. And never underestimate the power of a strong positive culture.