Johanna McNicoll studied a Master of Marketing Communication at The University of Melbourne in 2017, and is now an Innovation Projects Assistant at 7-Eleven Australia.
I wake up, have breakfast then head off to work. It usually takes me around an hour to get to the office dependent on traffic.
I get to the office and first things first, I make myself a 7-Eleven coffee. Coffee in hand, I go through my emails from overnight. These include some food-related customer complaints, the media summary and some responses and questions from a contractor about a project I’ve been working on. I set myself a checklist for what I need to do today and for the rest of the week.
My team, which is made up of Product Developers and Food Safety & Quality Specialists, has a meeting to discuss our achievements from the week before and our plans for this week. This helps us all to understand where we’re at and it allows us to call out if we need a hand with anything.
One of the Product Development Managers has changed a couple of ingredients in the recipe of one of the 7-Eleven sandwiches with the intention that there isn’t a noticeable flavour difference. We are trialling a new, simpler sensory process for minor changes to existing products like this and today is the first attempt. I go out to a store in our network and run the sensory test with a number of customers. This involves asking them to taste three samples and see if they can identify one that tastes different from the others. A big focus here is on food safety and making sure the order in which the sandwiches are presented changes to ensure the process remains reliable. Inevitably, I also sample the sandwiches myself!
I come back to the office and have some lunch. I usually bring some leftovers or throw together a salad in the morning. If it’s sunny, a few of my colleagues and I go outside and eat together, otherwise we sit in the canteen.
I sit down at my desk to write up the results from the in-store sensory test noting down the number of correct responses and comments they made about the flavour. I also calculate the statistical significance of the results and then make a recommendation as to whether to proceed with the amended recipe or to go back to redevelopment.
I head to a weekly meeting called the BLT – not Bacon Lettuce Tomato, but rather Brand Leadership Team. In this meeting, marketing, insights, innovation, merchandising and category management get together to discuss the status of a number of products being developed at the moment. This involves the Product Development Managers and Category Managers presenting documentation. All people in the room give feedback and ask questions based on certain criteria before either approving projects to the next stage of development, or asking them to review or resubmit the following week. We also discuss food safety issues from the prior week and progress we’ve made on reconciling any issues. I also take the minutes for the meeting.
I get back to my desk and there has been a delivery of some samples from one of our suppliers so the team sit down to try them and assess which is our preferred flavour for the product. This is also a great afternoon snack! After this, I have some time to work on a key project and pull annual sales data for all our proprietary food products and make an analysis of competitors. I consolidate this information into a document to send through to the contractor who will use this to brief our team on some future steps for the project.
Time to leave work. I head to a friend’s place and we go for a quick run together. Nothing better than winding down with some exercise and a catch up with a friend!