Planning and Projects Controller

Job Title: Planning and Projects Controller

Name: Simon Browne

Company: Kraft Foods

Professional Qualification(s):

GCSEs, A Levels, BA, MBA

Degree studied at

University of Central England

Brief job description

Project management is about taking a concept (such as Dairylea HotDogs) and turning it into reality. Therefore, my team is responsible for running the process of bringing a new product to market. This process focuses on packaging, packaging buys, artwork, the detail regarding production capacity, constraints in capacity, finalising costing, how the product will sit on shelves etc.- basically all the details about bringing the product to market. As the product gets closer to production, Inventory Planning then become involved. This part of my team are responsible for demand forecasting. Inventory Planning will sit alongside the customer marketing team and start to understand what the likely demand for the product is going to be. This includes the phasing for that demand, forecasting the initial orders, the amount of stock needed up front (if it’s a promotion) and the appropriate amount of stock to cover demand going forward (if it’s an ongoing line). My role is about supply/demand balancing- I analyse both supply and demand and try and optimise the two at the most effective cost for the business.

My career so far…

When I left University I went to work for Cadbury’s and was with them in a variety of roles for 6/7 years. I joined Kraft in December 1997 and have been in my current position since April 2001. When I first joined Kraft I was Projects and Planning Manager for Confectionery. I spent 8 months in this role before moving to the position of Customer Logistics Manager for 5/6 months. I was then promoted to Customer Logistics Controller and I did that role for 8 months before I moved into my current position. So in my 3 years in Kraft I have had 4 different jobs.

What does your job involve in a typical day?

Much of my job is about people management. I need to make sure that as a company we are developing our people and they are motivated. It is essential that we are targeting employees on our business priorities so that as a function we are aligned to the business strategy. MY day can vary from developing the forward strategy of the department to managing very hands on detailed tasks. There are many different parts to my job. Such as, managing production issues- if we have a product that doesn’t meet our specifications I have to think about creative ways to tackle this. Another example is analysing opportunistic sales opportunities and how to leverage these, so I try and build relationships with the factory managers across the business. A current example of a project I am working on is a promotion with Safeway. We have an opportunity of a 200 tonne uplift which is 55-60 times more than what we normally sell, for this I have a four week deadline. It is my job and that of my team to discuss with the factory. The questions we are asking them include- can they get the capacity on the production lines? Can they supply the labour? Have we got the materials available? Have we got the raw ingredients available? On a day to day basis I have to make sure that projects are on track and that we are delivering the right numbers based on our availability and customer service levels.

What do you like most about your job?

The results, achieving our key performance indicators. Two key measures are Customer Service and Product availability. I strive to deliver higher levels of customer service with less stock. I really enjoy motivating those I work with and making sure they are focused on the business objectives.

What skills are required in your job?

Flexibility is essential. At one moment I could be focusing on strategic issues, the next it could be an ad hoc task. It is important to prioritise and know what is important. You have to be able to take advantage of sales opportunities and deal with important issues as they arise. Tenacity is also important, you need to keep questioning people and the way things are done. Making intuitive decisions, using my experience and having the confidence to say this is what I think should be done are also essential. Supply Chain is very much process led, so a Supply Chain specialist would need to be able to work to certain processes.

How many people work for you?

I have 4 direct reports, these are category project and planning managers. In my total team there are 36 people.

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

The FMCG is a really fast moving and exciting industry to be in. There are great brands and it is very competitive. It is important to be open-minded about the function you want to go into. The support services, such as Human Resources, Finance and Supply Chain are all critical to Kraft’s success. Supply Chain is very sophisticated in this company and this industry. It is also important to look at the culture of the company.