Women Of The Irish Food Industry – Evelyn McLoughlin, Marketing Manager
Evelyn McLoughlin has recently joined the Lily O’Brien chocolate family.
Evelyn McLoughlin is a marketing head. In the food industry, like in most industries, there are obvious jobs like chefs, front of house, butcher, grower, and then there are the less obvious ones, the back of houses ones, the admins, the payrollers, the managers, the marketers. Those less obvious roles allow the chefs to create and cook and the restaurants and food producers to flourish.
As demonstrated by Kylie Magner and Aisling Flanagan, marketing is essential to the success of most businesses. I will look forward to seeing how far Lily O’Brien will go guided by Evelyn McLoughlin’s formidable experience.
I’m talking to women in the Irish food industry. How did your career path bring you here?
My career has been built on the bedrock of the Irish food industry. I started on a graduate program in Green Isle foods which provided a solid foundation for my career development. The graduate programme gave me exposure to all functions within the business and I learned so much from this. On completion of the programme I moved into a sales role and quickly progressed into National account management. After several years and a successful career as National Accounts manager in Green Isle and latterly in Cadbury Ireland, I seized an opportunity to transition into marketing. I had developed a passion for brands and a keen interest in the strategic development of the business and felt I was best placed within the marketing function to develop my skills and pursue my interest in this area. I left Cadbury to become Marketing Manager for KP snacks and subsequently held Marketing roles within Valeo foods before taking up my current role with Lily O’Brien’s.
How does your career fulfill you?
I have a keen interest in brands and a love of the Irish food industry. The Irish food industry is a dynamic and vibrant place to work and I have been fortunate to work with fantastic brands. I love the variety that Marketing provides which involves engaging with all disciplines within the business across sales, product development, finance, and operations to create the marketing plan to support and develop the brand. Marketing is at the heart of the organisation and plays a pivotal role in strategy development. I love being involved all the way through the process from research and insights generation through to product and campaign development and activation. Understanding consumers and customer needs and using insights to shape future plans and then bringing those plans to life is extremely satisfying.
What are your professional ambitions? What’s next for Evelyn McLoughlin?
I have just recently taken up my current role and I am very excited to be involved in the next phase of Lily O’Brien’s development. I expect this to keep me very busy and engaged for the foreseeable future.
In your opinion, what challenges women face in the food industry in Ireland?
The food industry is an exciting and vibrant place to work and achieving work-life balance can be a challenge particularly for those juggling hectic schedules on the home front as well as pursuing meaningful careers. Technology and more flexible work arrangements are definitely helping as the food industry requires an always-on mentality and is definitely not a nine to five business.
Tell us of one woman in the Irish food industry who consistently inspire you and why?
We have a wealth of inspirational women in this industry. However, if I was to pick one it is probably a lady I am only just beginning to get to know. Mary Ann O Brien, the founder of Lily O Brien’s is an exceptional entrepreneur and business leader. Her vision and creativity have led to the success of Lily O Brien’s as a leader in the Irish premium chocolate industry and the development of a globally recognised brand. Her drive, ambition, and enthusiasm are incredibly infectious and a constant inspiration.
What do you think can be done to help raise the profile and visibility of women in the food industry in Ireland?
There are some fantastic women in high profile senior roles within the food industry. These business leaders play a key role in raising the profile of women in the industry. Forums, where women can meet, share ideas and mentor and support each other, can also be effective in promoting women in the industry and empowering more women to take up leadership positions.
What was the proudest moment of your career so far?
Gosh, I can’t single out one in particular! I am honoured to have worked with such great brands and contributing to their success and I am proud of what I have achieved in my career to date.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell myself that self-belief and determination are key ingredients in success and to stay true to who you are and your ambitions A positive mindset and a can-do attitude are a great start. In times of adversity and challenge always try to see the bigger picture and don’t be afraid to reach out for help when you need it. Utlilse your network-people are generally willing to offer the benefit of their expertise and experience. I would encourage myself to be brave and take risks by going outside my comfort zone as this is where the magic happens.
What are the top skills required to do your job and why?
I think having the ability to listen with an open and enquiring mind, along with good analytical and critical thinking skills to be able to cut through multiple data sources to identify what is truly important. This combined with the ability to develop creative solutions delivered through collaboration and teamwork.
All marketing initiatives need to be commercially viable and having sound commercial understanding enables this. And finally, in an ever-changing and increasingly competitive marketplace flexibility and an optimistic mindset are key success factors in making it happen.
What is your favourite comfort food?
Chocolate of course. I am very fortunate in my choice of employer as I can safely say Lily O’Brien’s chocolate is the best by far!