Career Conversations: Working for ‘the biggest company you’ve never heard of’
When Mark Whalley was doing his degree in English Literature and Creative Writing, he had no idea that he would end up happily working as Consumer Insights Controller for a major food company.
“I didn’t know what consumer insights was,” he tells Elisa Roche in the latest Career Conversations episode. “I thought I would be a primary school teacher.”
But it was when he saw a job advertised that he thought it was worth a shot. He says he didn’t apply because he had a particular interest in the sector, he just thought he would be good at it.
And, it turns out, he was. He now works for Greencore, a major food manufacturer, supplying lots of different types of convenience foods.
Greencore make just about everything, from ready meals, to soups, sushi, and quiche.
Mark describes it as “the biggest company you’ve never heard of”.
He says that after a couple of years working in the sector, he discovered a real passion for working out what shoppers want.
Although he studied English, he says anyone who is curious about people can excel in the role. And people with a psychology or sociology background are often well-suited.
Listen on to find out what an average day looks like for a Consumer Insights Controller, why you will often find Mark hanging around supermarket aisles, and how his job has taken him all around the world.
Mark Whalley, Consumer Insights Controller, Greencore
Mark has spent more than a decade working in consumer insight, starting on the “agency-side” with business intelligence company Datamonitor, where he wrote on a diverse range of topics from fibre, to skincare, to trends in incontinence products.
This saw him work with some of the biggest brands in the world, including Unilever, Pepsi, and Heineken.
He is now the Insight Controller for Greencore – one of the largest manufacturers of convenience foods in the UK.
He is responsible for commissioning all market research within the company’s “Food-For-Later” division, which includes categories such as prepared meals, cooking sauces, and salads.
He works closely with both the Commercial and Product Development teams, where his experience in consumer trends and shopper behaviour help guide the company’s innovation agenda and product category strategy.