FoodGrads Podcast Ep 12: From science degree to marketing with Sarah Condruk, Marketing Coordinator at Give and Go Prepared Foods
Welcome to episode 12 of the FoodGrads podcast, the podcast where we explore careers in the food, beverage and hospitality industries. On this weeks podcast I interview Sarah Condruk a Marketing Coordinator at Give and Go Prepared Foods. Give and Go Foods is a Canadian manufacturer of premium frozen, thaw and sell baked goods. Give & Go produces a wide range of dessert and sweet baked goods that are sold to leading retailers and food service operators across the world.
In this episode we dive into the exciting world of food industry marketing. Sarah teaches me about her role at Give and Go Foods, their extensive range of bakery goodies and what the structure of her department looks like. We also talk about finding a job after graduation in a sector outside of your degree, in Sarah’s case it was going from a science degree to marketing department. Finally, we chat about her transition between school and full time job and how switching to a structured Monday to Friday job is a challenge in itself.
Sarah was really easy person to chat with and it just made the interview fly by. I love Sarah’s story because it goes to show that in the food industry you can start in a science degree but end up in a different field. It also shows the importance of trying new things and talking to others because it is better to try something new than stick with something you know you don’t
Can you tell me more about Give and Go Prepared Foods and what you do there?
- Give and Go is an in-store bakery that does many non-name brand products like cookies, scones, granola and crustadas. They are under 5 different brands and Walmart will put there own name on them.
- Sarah works on the mini-treats category which a major brand under them. Every day changes and things are fast paced but are fun.
- Sarah is a marketing coordinator you do everything from creating new products, on-going projects and the day to day category project problems. It is dynamic and a lot of fun
What does the marking side look like in terms of commercials. What kind of marketing projects do you work on?
- They don’t do traditional marketing and instead focus on point of sale. The focus is on a good branded label and hopefully people will pick it up and want to buy it because of it. Making sure the product, label and packaging look good.
How did you get into this role?
- Networking, calling people and just applying to everything
- Being tenacious and ambitious and connecting with the right people like HR and managers to know if spots are open. Do I have the skills to fills these spots
- Sarah had an internship the year before she graduated in Product Development and Regulatory affairs. However, she knew that this department wasn’t for her so when she graduated she knew Give and Go. She applying in a different department and gave her a shot
- The big thing she learned in her internship – being in the corporate environment she would talk to different departments and talked to people and what they did on the day to day
- A lot of it was luck.
- When you get in the real world it is a lot different then what you do in school. Even after the learning curve she figured that R&D was not for her
What do you love about your job?
- You get to be so creative in a way you aren’t in science
- The marketing department was being creative and bring things to life
- Superficially that’s how she got into the job but once working even longer in the job Sarah really loves it.
Has anything surprised you about your job?
- How hands-on the job . You are very involved in your products you are with product development to tasting things, then with supply chain and costing figuring out how expensive things will be and you are working with sales coming up with size to sell the product. Overall, a lot of different departments
- There use to be a lot of days pre-dynamic you with the workers in production to see the whole production process. You need to understand everything from ground zero.
- It’s fun to work with different people. You learn so much and engaging
- Give and Go is very involved in every step of the process from the idea creation to putting it on the grocery. Your very involved
- We talk about the good company culture at Give and Go Foods. If you help another team usually they will help you out as well
Can you tell me about any projects you have worked on or are proud of?
- They just launched Two-Bite Madeleine’s – a traditional french pastry. However, it is a very difficult product to make on a large production scale. The had to order new pans making the pump was really challenging. It was two year process that showed a project from start to finish
- We talk about how eventually you get sick of the product you work with (eating wise) after a few months
What are some of the tools and software that you work with?
- Working with in-house data software
- Consumer research from focus groups
Is there anything that is exciting you in the marketing world?
- The general return to the preparation of meals at home and meal delivery
- From marketing standpoint how do market experiences at home with your family and friends. How do you create fun in that experience at home
- Create a Treat
Were you involved in these create at home experiences?
- No, at Give and Go there are essentially three marketing teams. You have the channel team- they connect directly to customers and execute exactly what they want. They are usually with bigger retailers and are specific in what they want.
- Silos- the branded side. The strategic long term projects and the focus is on what the consumers what. It is a bit more fun.
- Create-a-treat- that markets specifics the creation kits for all seasonal purposes
- Each section does there own thing for a specific portion of the company
How was transition from undergraduate to full-time job?
- Corporate is so different from going to school. In corporate you have to be present in the moment and look presentable. You do group projects but it is so different than school, you have to follow through so many check points that just weren’t present in a corporate setting.
- Understanding how different people worked
- At school you were a spread out busy. It was not a solid block of time Monday to Friday. You think that change is not that different but once you go to work you realize that this is not the same thing.
- During work you can’t just have free time in the middle of the day
- Knowing that you work on this schedule for a long time is a bit scary.
- Though when you finish work your are done work then you are done for the day or the evening. That is your time and there is no lingering feeling that you need to do something
Why is the food industry a great place to work?
- It is a sustainable industry and food is the most stable because most people need to work
- Even during this pandemic people still have jobs that were able to work
- Within the food industry a lot of people know each other. Don’t be surprised if you meet up with a person in another company that you use to work with
- It is it’s own community
- The learning and stability.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career similar to yours?
- Try new opportunities and ask questions
- Network is differently important. Talk to them to understand what people do and what skills they need for their jobs
- If you are very personable and a good person people will generally be responsive
- You have to put yourself out there
- Keeping trying and have the ambition to put yourself out there
Where can people find you?