Abrivia’s Denis MacSweeney gave a captivating presentation to undergraduate and masters students of the food marketing program in University College Cork yesterday.
Students got to hear what thought leaders in the category management industry felt about career progression opportunities, the challenges of the day to day job, recruitment challenges in the industry and how category management is the engine which drives the agenda and the strategic direction of their businesses.
The overall outlook for anyone seeking to pursue out a career in category management is extremely positive, with many senior category managers citing recruitment of category executives as a huge challenge in their respective organisations. Denis went on to detail the number of companies who are regularly recruiting Junior Category Executives/ Analysts and the routes to getting valuable experience and how this experience can be used to land jobs in the this sector.
Denis, through his extensive research and relationships obtained over the last couple of years, interviewed past undergraduates and past master’s students of the UCC food marketing program, who are all very successful in companies both at home and abroad. Denis presented their views on how the course benefited them overall and what aspects of the course impressed potential employers in interview situations. These highly esteemed professionals also furnished tips and advice for potential graduates attending interviews. Amongst these great tips were how to use the challenge and outcomes of various assignments and work placements in interview situations. It is also important to remember that the skills and experience gained from college projects really “sets you out from the crowd and gives you an edge in interview situations”. It is also imperative to use the word “I” instead of “We” when describing your achievements.
Denis went on to show an excellent template for category management interview presentations and the level of depth and analysis expected by potential employers. Students were quick to realise that the skills that they were acquiring at undergraduate and masters level will soon play a critical part in formulating first class presentations for potential employers.
Denis then displayed a draft CV template for category managers with Education being to the forefront. What followed next in regards headings were in order of sequence: Qualifications, Work Experience, Achievements and finally Professional Training and Skills. Denis recommended that the ideal length of a category management CV should be between 2.5 to 3 pages.
The presentation finished by Denis explaining to students how to prepare for an interview and how to articulate your experience in interviews. From firm handshakes and a smile to bringing a printed CV and notepad into your interview, Denis provided a comprehensive insight into how to interview effectively. He also detailed through using examples how to use the STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) technique to answer interview questions and how a follow up e-mail and displaying passion in your interview is critical in regards landing your ideal category management position.
Dr. Alan Collins, Senior Lecturer in food marketing, concluded proceedings by thanking Denis for his excellent insights, tips and guidance for the class.
If you are interested in furthering your career in category management, why not give Denis a call today on 01 531 3729 or simply e-mail [email protected].