31 May 2019
As a globally operating company with over 9400 employees, Puratos is always on the lookout for new talent. Product managers are especially important at the company. What exactly do product managers do? What does a typical working day consist of? And what makes this job special? Four of our product managers tell you all about it.
One thing is for sure: the role of a product manager (PM) is very diverse. It’s about business development and product development and it requires a lot of travelling. This is because a PM has personal contact with international customers and colleagues. Perrine Blauwens, Global Product Manager for Specialty Mixes, explains her responsibilities:
“The main focus of my job is to ensure that we achieve the short and long-term goals in the product categories I’m responsible for. To do so, I need to have a clear understanding of what consumers want and need in terms of products and services. Market intelligence is crucial in my job and it’s one of Puratos’ strengths.”
Business development is also a big part of the job. Perrine: “PM’s travel frequently around the globe to give colleagues the support they need to achieve their goals in the countries in which they operate. Visiting customers is always on the agenda too. In a ‘typical’ month, I will take 2 to 4 plane journeys. These are often within Europe but also to America, Asia or Africa.”
When asked to describe a typical working day, Perrine is very clear: “There’s no such thing because we have multiple roles to play. One day I’m visiting customers and colleagues in Canada and the next I’m at the headquarters in Belgium, jumping from one meeting to another with colleagues from various departments such as R&D, Communication, Business intelligence, IT or Sales. Basically, the work I do and the people I interact with are so diverse that there are never two days that are the same. What a blessing!”
As Perrine mentioned, a PM is required to do a lot of travelling. About 30% of the time, a PM will be travelling around the world to support customers and colleagues who are working with Puratos products, developing new solutions and expanding their businesses. Tom Vanderstukken, Global Product Manager for Compound Chocolate and Fat-based Fillings, says the travelling is the most interesting part of his job:
“It brings a lot of variety to my working day and it’s an essential element of my job. During customer visits to different countries, we learn how bakers and pastry chefs are working today. This differs from country to country and even between regions. So, in order to position our products better, and to design innovative products, we need to visit bakers in their working environment. I have visited both artisanal bakers and industrial producers in countries like Kenya, Iran, India, Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, where I carried out trials and tested new innovative products with them.”
The travelling weeks are always packed with activities. “Most of our trips start with a visit to some supermarkets and bakeries to get a better idea of how our products are used in the finished goods. The rest of the week could include customer visits to test new products or to follow-up on projects. We also budget some time to train our sales teams or technical advisors on the product range. Sometimes we are able to combine work with pleasure when our colleagues take us on a tourist trip through a city or out for a nice dinner at a typical, local restaurant.”
At Puratos, we are always looking for new ways to support our customers; to help them discover new products and technologies so they can grow their businesses. Product managers do this by visiting and training them, but innovation is also extremely important in this. Sara Louwagie is the Global Product Manager for Fillings & Decors and responsible for an innovation project in the Patisserie SBU (Strategic Business Unit). She explains how she contributes to the Puratos’ mission on a daily basis:
“Innovation is 100% integrated into my job because I am working full-time on a breakthrough innovation project. As the project leader, it’s my mission to transform the technology into a product range, create the market for this innovation from scratch and expand it across the globe. Puratos’ decision to create a dedicated, multifunctional team to launch this global innovation is a real investment in innovation. I think it’s what distinguishes Puratos from other companies where innovation is often one of the 100 other tasks on the to-do list.”
When it comes to innovation, customers are very much involved. Sara: “We integrate feedback from our customers in the product development stage to determine the taste, texture, flavour and other characteristics of the product . I interviewed over 30 customers in different countries to understand their needs and how our technology can help them. Besides this, we devote a lot of time to inspiring our customers with new trends, concepts, flavours and stories from patisserie around the world so they can innovate their businesses.”
Innovation and high-quality products have always been important values for Puratos. Health, sustainability and social responsibility are other values that are of great and growing importance to us. Consumers want their baked goods to be healthy, so ‘good for them’, but they also want them to be good for the environment and society on a global level. Anneleen Mistiaen, Global Product Manager for Patisserie Mixes, explains how these values are integrated with her job on a daily basis:
“One of Puratos’ missions is to offer differentiated solutions to improve the health and increase the well-being of consumers worldwide. I’m responsible for patisserie products and, even though it’s is a very indulgent product category, we pay very close attention to health & well-being. We see that, on a global scale, consumers are paying more and more attention to the quality of what they eat. So we spend a lot of time on innovations related to health & wellbeing. These include things like products with a significantly less sugar, vegan products, gluten-free products or products that allow our customers to make finished products with a clean(er) label.”
For Sara Louwagie, Puratos’ values were one of the factors that made her apply for the job: “I admire Puratos’ commitment to the wider community and future generations. Everything we do is not only about generating profit, but also about doing it in a sustainable way and ensuring the wider community also benefits from it as well. Examples are the sourdough library, Puratos’ bakery schools, the Cacao-Trace programme and all our efforts in the health & well-being programme and in waste reduction.”
Are you excited by our product managers’ inspiring stories? Would you like to work with them and contribute to Puratos’ growth? As we are growing, we are currently looking for multiple new product managers. Take a look at the job specifications and apply!
Not convinced yet? Discover here why this could very well be the best job in the world!