"The amazing thing about this company is that every day is a learning day."
Kate Smith, Senior Product Change Manager & Continuous Improvement Lead
Thursday, October 19,2023
Tell me about your career journey at MDLZ
I joined Kraft in October 2011 within the Demand and Event Management function, and I was responsible for completing reviews of customer stock allocations. It was a great introduction into supply chain. I had previously worked in Construction for 10 years, so it was a change for me to join a Fast Moving Consumer Goods company.
I then moved into a Chocolate Customer Demand Planner role. Here I had the chance to work as a project team member on a SAP change project, which was my first chance to work with a high number of cross functional teams and it really opened up my network and expanded my knowledge of systems and the complexities within the business.
This fuelled my interest in joining the Product Change Management (PCM) Team and I was successful in joining the community in December 2016. I initially lead all of the UK & Ireland Chocolate Bitesize Portfolio projects and had a varied level of complexity to manage, ranging from changing artworks for regulatory requirements, on pack artwork promotions such as Merlin and Match and Win, roll outs of MEU (MDLZ Europe) led Innovation (Oreo Bites), launching locally led new product developments such as (Freddo Faces/Picnic Bites/Green & Blacks Velvet Fruits/G&B Bloc).
Just ahead of the PCM Hub transformation in 2019, I secured a role as Team Leader managing Northern Europe Tablets, then transferred to manage the Central & Western Europe team Tablets team in February 2020.
In August 2021 I took on the Countlines & Bitesize PCM Hub Lead position covering maternity leave, this was my first role within the leadership team and alongside management of the Northern Europe team.
What is your current role, and what is exciting about it?
Currently I am in the Central & Western Europe team lead position where I oversee Continuous Improvement topics on behalf of Confectionary PCM Community, most notably supporting the team through the changes because of the recent Accolade system releases. What I find most exciting about my role is supporting the community as a whole, and not just my own team. The function and the community we have is unlike anything I've experienced in other roles. It is rewarding to see how the efforts and work I do help to make things easier for the team and as always, it's exciting to see the new products that are launched by our wonderful project managers too!
What do you like about working at MDLZ?
I feel MDLZ has a great culture. The people is what make this a fantastic place to be, I feel supported by a fantastic manager, a wonderful peer group and my team is the best.
What is the most exciting project that you have worked on?
The most exciting project has got to be the launch of the Accolade system. I was involved in the user acceptance testing and training. When it comes to PCM projects my favourite project launch was Picnic Bites. Picnic is my favourite product and I loved the bitesize product that was developed. It was great being part of the team launching this and I felt a real sense of pride connecting so close to a brand and product I had grown up with.
Can you give us an example of how you stepped outside your comfort-zone in this role?
When I put myself forward for the PCM Hub Lead position this was a real step out of my comfort zone, like many women I sometimes suffer with a lack of confidence and imposter syndrome but I knew this was not an opportunity to miss out on and I therefore really pushed myself not to listen to my inner self and just take the plunge. I’m so glad I did this as it was a huge reward 14 months into my career.
What is your biggest learning experience since working with us?
I think my biggest learning experience is about how complex supply chain is, and how nothing can run smoothly without everyone playing their role in the machine. Mdlz has opened me up to so many different experiences. I have travelled to Bern, Athens, Skarbimierz, Bielany and saw how the plants produce our iconic brands and having then Bournville plant on our doorstep where I am able to observe plant trials on projects I was working on gave me so much insight into manufacturing. The amazing thing about this company is that every day is a learning day.
How do you flex-work?
I utilise the flex working policy of extended hours for half days on Friday or full days when possible and I really appreciate the flexibility, it allows me to attend important events at my children’s schools without having to take formal holiday and it’s easy to make up my hours at a time that works for me around family life.
What is your favourite MDLZ brand?
Cadbury of course! This is what I grew up eating, my grandparents used to get goodies from the staff shop and my Grandad had worked for Cadbury. The memory of this iconic brand triggers wonderful childhood memories when I use to spend time with my grandparents. Also, Merenda Chocolate spread! It’s better than the other leading chocolate spread brand in my opinion!!