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Ross Farquhar

Discovering my confectionary passion

By the time I completed my undergraduate International Business MA at Edinburgh University; spent a year at the University of Alberta (Canada); and worked a summer as a Marketing, Sales and Service Intern for Ford Motor Company, I knew that Commercial was where I wanted to be.

I joined Cadbury Sales and Marketing programme. My first placement was as a Sales Executive in West London, which was an initially scary but ultimately rewarding experience. I cut my teeth on basic selling skills and got to grips with exactly what the business is built on – our brands, consumers and customers.

Chocolate heaven

I moved on to be Assistant Brand Manager for Creme Egg, Crunchie, Mini Eggs and Snaps. It’s a steep learning curve, but I really enjoyed gaining an understanding of what a Brand Manager actually does, day to day. I led projects that brought products to market, strategised the future of the brands I worked on, and executed campaigns to turn that strategy into reality.

My third role was as Category Manager for Giving and Everyday Sharing in our Category Development team. There, I got to sit between Marketing and Sales, working with both to align priorities, and generally being responsible for pricing, promotional recommendations, and display.

It’s here you get the opportunity to look at things from a category rather than brand or account perspective, which can really alter your perspective.

My final role on the scheme was as an Account Manager for Sainsbury’s Boxed and Seasonal. Working in account management is like managing your own mini-business within the wider company, where you’re in control of a profit and loss account and you work with your customer to align priorities and come up with winning solutions.

This might mean listing a new product, or trying to make your range work harder through pricing, promotions, or feature displays.

Big brands

I’m now back working in Marketing in a permanent appointment as Brand Manager for Wispa, Crunchie and Bitesize, having come back into the department as Assistant Brand Manager for Flake and Wispa before working my way up.

Working with really iconic brands is pretty fun in itself, but it’s made that much better by the fact that I can now leverage my experience across the whole function to work more collaboratively, generally getting things done faster and better.

When I see the results of my work on our customer’s shelves I feel that I’m really achieving something. And the fact that despite our size, the Managing Director still knows me on a first name basis shows the sort of culture I get to work in.

The scheme offered me a massive opportunity – I developed skills that will ensure I’m on the road to being a very strong Commercial Manager in the future.

When I look around the office, I see former graduates who are moving onwards and upwards at a fast rate, and I find that very inspiring.

Out of all the graduates who were taken on in my year, I’ve got several really close friends who are based around the UK but who I still speak to on a daily basis.

In terms of networking, the fact that we don’t take on hundreds of graduates also works in our favour. You quickly get the opportunity to influence members of the board, get yourself known and importantly absorb information from them.

Whether it’s how they got to where they are, or their philosophy on their discipline, it’s the sort of access some of my friends don’t tend to get at other companies. I think I got lucky in getting in here.

Cadbury’s is now owned by Kraft Foods, go to their website to learn more about their graduate opportunities.

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