‘Leading by example’
Alice Cadman was recently appointed head of business development and marketing at Leatherhead Food Research. Here, she explains why the food industry must continue to improve its understanding of the more distant and less sustainable aspects of the food supply chain…
Describe yourself in three words:
Positive, energetic, enthusiastic.
What’s your biggest professional achievement?
I am very proud to have been instrumental in improving the health credentials of snacks and biscuits while I worked at United Biscuits (UB). Many of the changes would not have been picked up by consumers but the contribution that this work made to healthier diets is good to have been a part of.
How did you get to where you are today?
I have been involved in the food industry from the start of my career at Mars Confectionery in the early 1980s when I worked in the field sales force, installing (and sometimes removing!) confectionery fixtures in independent retailers. A transition from chocolate to beer (Diageo) followed by crisps (PepsiCo then KP Crisps) and subsequently biscuits (UB) has kept me fully immersed in what might be described as ‘treat’ categories. My role as director of business development and marketing at Leatherhead Food Research is now a perfect transition and allows me to get closer to all the other rich and varied aspects of the food industry.
What is your pet hate?
Negative people. Life is so much nicer when you look for the good aspects rather than the bad bits.
What do you consider to be the most important attributes for a leader?
Leading by example is key for me. Don’t ask someone to do something that you wouldn’t be prepared to do yourself.
Give us a positive prediction for the food industry over the next 12 months:
I believe that the food industry will continue to improve its understanding and input to the robustness of the more distant and less sustainable aspects of the food supply chain. This will lead to fewer opportunities for adulteration and the continued investment in truly sustainable long-term sourcing strategies.
Who do you most admire?
Professionally, Fiona Dawson, president of Mars Chocolate UK and IGD president. I had the good fortune to be part of a group she led at FDF and have attempted to model my own leadership behaviour on her style.
Which people/organisations or companies are the ones to watch right now?
Obviously Leatherhead Food Research! With an added focus on customer engagement and investment in the resources that our customers tell us they are looking for, we expect to contribute significantly to the success of the whole food industry.
Which words do you most overuse?
Yes, OK, that’s fine, I can do that. It leads to a very busy diary!
If you weren’t in your current position, what else might you be doing?
International, Olympic medal winning equestrian show-jumper (in my dreams).
Tell us something about yourself that few people know:
I once sang backing vocals in a band that was played by John Peel on Radio 1.
Shoes. And shopping online after a glass of wine – dangerous and expensive.
What single thing would most improve the quality of your life?
How do you relax?
Taking one of my horses for a hack round the nearby farmland on a sunny evening after work is a great way to think through the issues of the day and to make sense of complicated challenges.
How would you like to be remembered?
For making a difference to other peoples’ lives.