Friday, August 04, 2023
Katya is excited to be sharing her career story at MDLZ and telling us about the great opportunities and iconic events that she has attended!
Tell us about your career journey at MDLZ
I joined MDLZ in September 2017 after graduating from the University of Warwick with a BSc Economics and have so far worked in 5 different commercial roles, spanning a variety of functions and brands.
I started on the Commercial Grad Scheme, where my first rotation was in Sales Revenue Planning, helping to develop commercial plans for our gifting range and for Mini Seasons. I then moved into Marketing for the Dairylea brand, where I not only consumed an inordinate amount of cheese triangles (“for work”), but also discovered my passion for Marketing. My final year of the Grad scheme was in Sales, where I strengthened my commercial acumen by working on the Tesco account for Seasonal chocolate, negotiating plans with Tesco across Mini Seasons and Christmas.
After the Grad scheme, I returned to Marketing and joined the Easter team as Junior Brand Manager where I led the Mini Eggs brand and also worked on the Cadbury Easter campaign. The craziest thing about working on Easter was that you were working across so many different years – building your comms campaigns for this Easter, delivering your innovation projects for next Easter and developing strategies and bigger innovation ambitions 3+ years ahead. Again, ludicrous quantities of Mini Eggs consumed “for work”.
What is your current role, and what is exciting about it?
For the last year or so I’ve been working as a Brand Manager for OREO UK, an epic, globally iconic brand – in fact, statistically the no. 1 biscuit in the world! I love it because - like all Marketing roles at MDLZ - no one day is ever the same as you mix up working on campaigns, strategy, and innovation to name a few. But the OREO role is especially exciting as its entire brand positioning is rooted in playfulness meaning the stuff we get to do on the brand is always such fun. To give you an example… it was just a couple of weeks ago we were dunking a giant OREO cookie into a 6 ft glass of milk with Sam Thompson! OREO’s megabrand status means we get to do some awesome partnerships too, like this years campaign with Xbox or last years with The Batman where we actually got to hit the red carpet at the London movie premiere!
What do you like about working at MDLZ?
Two things… the people and the brands.
People: The people at MDLZ are just the best – everyone is super friendly, and everyone wants to do the best they can. The people create a fantastic culture where I feel empowered and trusted, but also, I feel I can deliver and thrive in my own way – which in my case tends to be high energy and full of slightly funny (but mostly embarrassing) jokes and puns.
Brands: I feel genuinely privileged to be able to work on the calibre of brands that we have at MDLZ. These brands are deeply engrained in UK culture and truly loved by consumers. We get to see the fruits of our work on shelves or on billboards, and it’s massively fulfilling to steer these brands.
What is the most exciting project that you have worked on?
The most exciting project I ever worked on was the creation and launch of the Cadbury Worldwide Hide campaign in Easter 2021. In a season where Covid and its restrictions still lingered, we created an entirely digital platform that enabled people to hide eggs for their loved ones anywhere in the world – somewhere that means something to just them – and when found, they could even get an actual Cadbury Easter egg delivered. It was a huge and complex project, made even harder by the uncertainty around Covid, but we were all fuelled by the passionate belief that this was going to be a really special thing for our consumers.
It was. Over 700,000 eggs were hidden… pretty magic. The industry recognition and awards that followed were also amazing (several firsts for my career!), but what sticks with me is the feeling that I helped create something that enabled people to connect in a meaningful way over such a hard time for so many.
Can you give us an example of how you stepped outside your comfort-zone in this role?
I spend every day outside of my comfort zone. I’m given real autonomy and empowerment to shape and steer the OREO brand in the UK, a brand that is worth $4bn globally but still relatively new to UK consumers. There’s no blueprint to follow… it’s all up to us! Not comfortable, but exciting!
What is your biggest learning experience since working with us?
Over 5 years in, I’m not sure anything ever goes to plan. Whether it’s an innovation project, a campaign, a sales negotiation… I’m pretty sure I’ve always ended up somewhere different from where I thought I would be. Early on, I used to assume this was failure. Now, I accept that it’s more-or-less inevitable and that it tends to actually lead to a better final result. It’s also turbocharged my resilience and agility, which I would argue are the two most valuable skills in this industry!
How would you describe the work culture at Mondelēz International and within your function?
The culture is made up of the people, and the people at MDLZ – simply speaking – get. it. done. In Marketing in particular, I feel the role of ‘brand owner’ is incredibly true to the culture – you’re across everything and anything that touches your brand, even if it’s not specifically ‘marketing’. That said, I think the culture is best summarized by the oldest cliché in the book: teamwork makes the dream work. An army of driven and empowered people, experts in different parts of the business, coming together to deliver amazing things for our brands and consumers.
What is your favourite MDLZ brand?
It’s so hard to choose! I can never say no to a Dairylea Dunker… but I’d also struggle to turn down a Toblerone… or Mini Eggs. But also, a Ritz biscuit with Philly on top? Yum. In conclusion, impossible question to answer.
How do you flex-work?
No week is the same for me - I mix up where I work between our office, our agency offices or home. We also have a great Flexi Day programme where a few extra work hours in the week unlocks time off in lieu, which I love for a ‘me day’, a ‘life admin day’, or even just a longer weekend.
What advice would you give someone that wants to join MDLZ in your function?
Look around! The brands we work on are everywhere, and part of people’s ‘every day’. See what we’re up to, and if it excites you, come join us!