Northern European Product Development Manager

Job Title: Northern European Product Development Manager

Name: Vicki Cash

Company: McCormick UK Ltd

Professional Qualification(s):

BSc (Hons) Home Economics 2:1, Cardiff University

Brief overview of your job

To manage the product development activities and programme for Northern Europe, ensuring that all agreed projects are delivered within the cost, quality and to the timescale demanded. Manage and develop the Northern European team of Home Economists and Technologists, through training, recruitment and personal development.

What does your job involve?

  • Responsible for product development and support of the complete portfolio of consumer products across the Northern European Zone, including UK, Switzerland and Finland, worth in excess of £100m
  • Responsible for branded product development including the Schwartz and McCormick brands, in addition to own label product development, including M&S; and Sainsburys
  • Launched in excess of 150 SKUs across Northern Europe in 2003, including a Schwartz herb and spice re-launch, a new salad’ category and a range of wet sauces for fish. Launches in 2004 include a range of packet mixes for vegetables, Count on Us cooking sauces for M&S;, and new varieties for the “Real Paste” range.
  • Manage and develop the R&D; department, including home economists and technologists, motivating and supporting all team members to maximise their potential
  • Project manage the NPD process from concept through to launch, producing and maintaining critical paths for each project
  • Ensure that all projects are delivered within the cost, quality and to the timescale demanded

What do you most like about your job?

  • Being a complete foodie, I love the products I work on. Not only are they excellent products which I really believe in, but I love the fact that they are flavours from around the world, so it keeps the product development interesting. For example, one day I could be working on a traditional English casserole, and the next day working on new flavours trends coming through, such as a Moroccan Tagine or Jamaican Jerk.
  • People management – I have a great team of home economists and technologists – we all enjoy our jobs and work well together as a team.
  • Working on the Schwartz brand, which is well known and respected both within the food industry, and by consumers. It’s a brand to be proud of! I also like the fact that I am helping consumers to liven up their eating occasions by developing exciting new products for them to try.
  • Seeing products I have worked on the shelves in store is always a great buzz, especially when you see a consumer pick your product up and put in their trolley to buy. It makes the hard work worthwhile.

What skills are required in your job?

  • Excellent people management skills
  • Excellent project management skills, including use of Microsoft Project
  • Computer literate in Microsoft Office Packages
  • Ability to work cross functionally across the business with an ability to communicate at all levels
  • Good technical knowledge
  • Commercial awareness
  • Keen interest in food
  • Creative
  • Organised
  • Flexible

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

  • Work on products which you believe in and can be passionate about – especially if you are in a Product Development role.
  • I started out on a graduate management training programme, which I would recommend as it gives you a great foundation and understanding of the different functions within the food industry.

Career so far:

Sacla UK Ltd
New Product Development Manager
April 1999 to December 2001

Bass Brewers (Take Home)
Category Merchandising Manager
August 1997-April 1999

Hazlewood Foods Plc
Graduate Management Trainee
Placements in Sales, Technical, Production, NPD and Marketing.
October 1995 – August 1997

M&S, Baker Street, London, in conjunction with John Rannoch Ltd, Suffolk
Market Research Placement
June 1995 – September 1995

Did you complete an industrial placement as part of your degree? 

I.P.C Magazines, London
Home Economist Placement
August 1994 – September 1994