Job profile: Business unit controller

Job Title

Business Unit Controller


Clare Rees


Greencore Group

Professional Qualification(s):

BA Hons English Literature: 2:1 from Lancaster University. A-Levels in English Literature, History & Economics. 8 GCSE’s. Diploma in Management Certificate in Management.

Brief overview of your job:

As Business Unit Controller, I am responsible for delivering budgeted sales, volume & contribution for the Greencore Sandwiches’ site in Park Royal, London. My account responsibility includes Sainsbury’s, Gate Gourmet and any new business opportunities. I manage a team of 4 people, 2 Business Account Managers, Category Analyst and an Account Executive to achieve the Commercial objectives.

What does your job involve?

  • My main responsibility is to support the Business Account Managers giving direction and coaching to deliver their Account Plans and Profit Improvement Plans to drive both Category and Greencore sales and profitability. This involves setting business and personal objectives and giving them day to day support. I will give advice and support through difficult negotiations, such as costs and trading terms and will get involved myself if necessary. I am often used as a sounding board to resolve problems they are having with their customers.
  • I have regular telephone conversations and usually weekly meetings, either with my account contacts or I attend meetings between the Account Manager and their buyer to give support. Generally these are positive meetings or conversations discussing business planning and strategy, but from time to time I will also have to confront any negative issues affecting our trading relationship with the customer, whether that is service, product or category led.
  • The role of an Account Manager and my role could be described as on site “customer champions.” We get involved in any issues or opportunities surrounding our customers and any decisions made on site that may affect product, quality, service etc. would involve our input
  • My role involves a great deal of project management to deliver site and customer initiatives, such as new product development, supply chain, ingredient and category initiatives. I am responsible for setting objectives and critical paths for these projects, calling meetings and liaising with other departments to achieve the projects in time and to meet the objective. At times I will act as the project manager, or in other instances I will support the Account Managers in this area.
  • I attend daily and weekly site executive meetings, where I will represent the Commercial function in delivering the business objectives. I also attend other specific weekly meetings such as NPD and sales planning meetings. I have to work closely with my colleagues in other functions, in particular Operations, Technical and Supply Chain.
  • This role is particularly challenging and high pressured because as an customer brand supplier, I have to balance the needs of the business with my customer requirements to drive their category. Sandwiches also have such a short shelf life that immediate decisions have to be made on a daily basis. The pace is fast moving and new product development turnaround is very quick. Managing a team is also a challenge, as I have to motivate, give direction and support even when I am busy and under pressure!

What do you most like about your job?

  • My role is extremely varied and no day is ever the same. There are always new challenges to overcome and opportunities to exploit. Even if I try and plan my day it will always be different! I get involved in so many areas of the business that I can never get bored.
  • I really enjoy customer contact and building relationships at all levels within the accounts. It makes my week more exciting if I am building up to a big customer meeting or product presentation and I get a real sense of achievement when we are successful in a new product listing or negotiation. I enjoy being off site and meeting customers at their head office or completing store visits / competitor shopping.
  • I enjoy working with food and helping to taste and develop new product ideas. It is also fun and interesting researching new food trends or store formats through store and restaurant visits.
  • As part of building relationships with our customers, we do get the opportunity to carry out limited entertaining based around learning about food. We therefore take our customers to new restaurants, or on study tours, either in the UK or abroad which is always a new experience!

What skills are required in your job?

  • Strong leadership & team management skills
  • The ability to communicate with impact at all levels
  • Negotiation skills
  • Project Management
  • Decision Making

What is your advice to people looking for a career in the food & grocery industry?

  • The food & grocery industry will provide a wealth of career opportunities from Operations, Technical, Commercial and Human Resources. It is often useful if starting out in the industry to try and gain as much experience in different functions before deciding on your area of expertise.
  • I would encourage people to consider and research customer brand suppliers who may not be as well known as the big branded suppliers, but offer their own unique challenges and opportunities.
  • The chilled food industry is extremely challenging and fast paced, so ensure you can deal with the increased pressure of this area.

Career so far:

Greencore Sandwiches (formerly Hazlewood Sandwiches):

  • Business Account Manager: Asda
  • Business Account Manager: Boots / New Product Development Manager
  • Business Account Manager: Safeway

Hazlewood Sandwich & Pizza Division: National Account Exec dealing with Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, CRS

Hazlewood Foods: Graduate Trainee – positions held in Operations, HR and Commercial