Job Title
Senior Brand Manager- Boxed ChocolatesName: Helen Olle

Company: Kraft Foods

Professional Qualification(s):
8 GCSE’s, 4 A Levels, BSc (Hons) Chemistry (2:1) Diploma in Management Studies and Masters in Business Administration (MBA)

Degree studied at 
Bristol UniversityBrief job description
I am a Senior Brand Manager for Boxed Chocolates. As a Senior Brand Manager I develop and Implement the annual marketing strategy and operating plan, lead and champion all aspects of the brand including: Consumer Insight & Market Research, Advertising & Media, Consumer and Trade Promotions, Product Development (both new and existing), Pricing, Financial Mix, Volume and Operations Planning. I am also involved in the developing and managing of external agency relationships.

My career so far…
I joined the Bass Graduate Programme straight from University and initially started in Sales. I moved into Marketing after 15 months when I became Assistant Brand Manager on Tenants Lager in Scotland. I then did a trade-marketing role for a year before becoming Brand Manager for Carling. My next move was as Senior Brand Manager for Alco Pops such as Hooch. I moved to Kraft in May 2000 and have been in my current role as Senior Brand Manger-Boxed Chocolates.

What does your job involve on a typical day?
It is very difficult to say how I work on a daily basis. My workload breaks down into cycles. For example, we have a yearly cycle that begins in February and this is the brand planning process. This is the time we decide what we are going to do next year. We have to analyse all our data, most importantly reviewing how we did over Christmas as this is confectionery’s busiest time. We will then examine the market, that is, check consumer data, internal data and devise what our strengths and weaknesses are. From this we know what we need to address and plan our future strategy. For example, on Terry’s All Gold our strategy was to build penetration, getting more new users and lapsed users buying the brand. I identified that our core boxes needed to be more gift worthy and that All Gold needed consumers to actively choose the product without it being on promotion. I re-vitalised the core packs, re-designed the shape of the box and made changes to 8 out of 12 chocolates. I had to work out what I needed to do and do it. As a Senior Brand Manager I have to work out far in advance what our strategy is going to be as the process can take some time, such as changing the plastic trays in All Gold took six months to develop. This is one example of a project I have been working on.

What do you like most about your job?
What I most enjoy about my work is the consumer insights. Such a huge percentage of my work is focused on new product development, about 70% for 2003. New Product development is about identifying customer needs and consumer insights so you can leverage your brand positions against that customer insight. I need to deliver a position that is motivating and a product that satisfies consumer needs. What I love are the consumer insights, the innovation and the creativity.

What skills are required in your job?
You need to think commercially and creatively at the same time. Marketing is about putting yourself in other people’s shoes and that of your competitor. You need to be passionate about your brand and have the determination and resilience to succeed. It is also important to be a team player as I am unable to deliver objectives in splendid isolation. My job is very much about leading and inspiring people, so they also believe in the brand and want to make it work.

How many people work for you?
No direct reports, though I work with seven other people in confectionery.

What is your advice for people looking for a career in the food and grocery industry?
It is important to look at your career as a series of jobs, rather than a traditional career path. It is important that you don’t always think about the role ahead but focus on the job in hand. Being promoted is important but unless you love what you do then you can’t do it to the best of your ability. Working for Kraft in this industry is a real challenge, the food market is well established and is very competitive. You can’t stand still as someone else will innovate, as a business we are always looking forward. If you like a challenge then it is a great business to be in as looking for new areas to expand is difficult.