Rachel Humphrey – Portfolio Marketing Manager (Masterfoods) @ Mars Food Australia

1. Before we dive into your role at Mars, what has your career journey looked like so far?

Business Degree & placement year @ Aston University

I completed a business degree specialising in marketing at Aston University in the UK.  This gave a breadth of understanding in the first year and a 3rd year placement in industry giving practical on-the-job experience and forming the basis of my dissertation.  Aston University was one of the few in the UK offering business degrees at that time (showing my age) but had excellent connections into the business world enabling an easier transition into a career post qualification.

After graduation

I joined the marketing team at Unilever on their graduate program, which offered 2 years of cross functional placements in sales, consumer insight, planning and factory line management, providing an enterprise wide understanding before re-joining marketing in a brand manager position. 

I was open to all learning opportunities and volunteered to become a creative ambassador for the food business training with the ?WhatIf! innovation agency, as well as running the pilot program for the Marketing Academy’s Insight Activator, a user-centricity program for innovation and communication development.  This is where I found my passion and it saw me move into Horizon 3 innovation projects based out of Unilever’s Research Centre in the Netherlands, developing a long-term innovation pipeline for the FLORA brand. 

Moving to Australia in 2004, I continued to work on FLORA for the local market, before moving into Brand Development on the CONTINENTAL brand.  With CONTINENTAL spanning several savoury categories, it was here I learnt about portfolio management both from a business and brand perspective and helped develop the Family Mealtimes Matter masterbrand campaign.

Moving to the tea portfolio, including brands LIPTON and BUSHELLS, I was responsible for brand development for South East Asia and Australasian markets.  Developing common insights and brand communication and innovation platforms across diverse cultures and market maturities was a key skill I learnt and transferred to my next role at Nestle Purina working on the Cat Food Portfolio, including FANCY FEAST, FELIX, FRISKIES across 13 markets in Asia, Oceania and Africa.

2. Transitioning into work, what the heck does a Portfolio Marketing Manager (Masterfoods) @ Mars Food Australia do?

My principal role is to manage the vision and purpose of the portfolio, ensuring we have a clear strategy and roadmap for the business of today and tomorrow.  Annual planning is a key part of this, looking at the brand and portfolio from a 4C lens and understanding the levers to pull to accelerate growth. Taking a longer term perspective is critical, understanding consumer trends to ensure we remain relevant and transforming our product delivery so we continue to surprise and delight.

Consumer centricity is key to my role, ensuring the consumer is at the heart of everything we do and ensuring we translate consumer understanding into our planning and execution. We are also responsible for championing the consumer through the business ensuring quality delivery in every part of the 5P mix.

I am essentially the architect of the MASTERFOODS brand, shaping the brand compass and strategy and developing and executing our communication and innovation pipeline to bring that to life.  MASTERFOODS is an iconic Australian brand that has been around for over 75 years, creating new categories and transforming how flavour is brought to a meal, so it is imperative that I continue the brand’s journey and leave a legacy from which others can build.

However, the most important role I have at Mars is working with others.  Mars is a family owned business with 5 Principles or values that guide how we work with other associates, our brands and our business. In my role I am responsible not only for my direct team, but the way we work cross-functionally within the business and mutually with our agencies, suppliers and customers.  I believe in collaboration, responsibility and passion and the importance of trust as the underpinning to any relationship.

3. What’s an example of a campaign that you’ve worked on and what was your role in bringing it to life?

Campaign name: Masterfoods “Flavour Up!” campaign
Creative example: https://youtu.be/M430R7OOyXg

What was it?

The recent MASTERFOODS Flavour Up! campaign was a response to the shift in consumer habits and attitudes as we’re settling into the new normal.  There is a clear consumer need for simple solutions to help them translate their new found love of cooking during working from home into practical flavour solutions that not only flavour up their food but level up their cooking as they go back into the workplace.

What was your role?

Through our brand strategy work, we wanted to educate on the breadth of the brand portfolio as many consumers only knew the brand through our herbs and spices or our sauces, so there was potential to expand the role of MASTERFOODS beyond the sauce bottle in the fridge; to the flavour partner in the kitchen.

The communication was briefed at the end of last year after collaborating with our creative agency Clemenger BBDO and media partner Mediacom. It was directed and produced by the team at Airbag.
Flavour Up! was developed to be a creative platform across all MASTERFOODS communications, from masterbrand to category specific communications, from passive above the line to instore promotions. 

It was important to me to be able to develop a communications platform that worked at all levels across the portfolio for many years to come. It encapsulates the key learnings I have from my years in marketing:- to find a resonating truth through consumer and brand insight, and then consistently execute against it in a differentiated way.

4. What do the entry level pathways for aspiring FMCG marketers look like?

I feel privileged to have worked for so many blue-chip FMCG multinationals as the training, opportunities and resource support is phenomenal.  The world is changing however, and there are many exciting opportunities from smaller, agile companies who are reshaping the marketing function.

Internships and graduate programs are the traditional pathways into marketing, with graduate programs often starting in the field sales team before offering a multi-disciplinary career path.  More information on the Mars graduate and intern programs can be found on the following link.  https://au.gradconnection.com/employers/mars-australia/

5. What’s one thing you recommend an aspiring FMCG marketer do right now?

Competition for intern and graduate programs is stiff, so networking is key, as is demonstrating initiative.  Project based work, unpaid work experience, university assignments all demonstrate passion and initiative when interviewing and can often lead to bigger things.

If you are already working in the industry, embrace any opportunities that come your way, be it training courses, conferences or projects that widen your breadth or experience.  Follow your passions and become an ‘unofficial’ expert or superuser in this area; this will help differentiate you and shape the direction of your career.

Mentors or coaches can also help, but don’t worry if you haven’t got an obvious candidate or an established relationship.  Reach out to people you respect and trust professionally and ask for a one-off chat.  If it was a conducive conversation and a good fit, suggest a follow-up.   This ‘try before you commit’ approach will help establish an organic relationship that feels more natural and may also result in a handful of people you feel comfortable leaning on for advice and support.

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