Name: Holly Watson
Job title: Assistant Manager Product Development
Company location: Domino’s Pizza Group, Milton Keynes
Education: University of Northumbria for Food Science and Nutrition
Why did you decide to pursue a career in food & beverage? I’ve always been obsessed with food. Visiting supermarkets and food markets on vacation with my family was my favorite activity – trying to taste everything new and different from what was available at home. When I was about 15 years old, I read a magazine article by a food product developer about how new food products come to market and all the work involved in a new launch. I was hooked by this and contacted her to learn more about her role and how she got into the industry.
Explain your work to us in a sentence (or two): My job as an assistant product development manager at Domino’s revolves around researching and developing exciting new pizza, side dishes and dessert concepts. As a team, we spend our time focusing on what our customers really want to see from Domino’s. We’re driven by the latest foodie trends, so we look at how we use popular ingredients for our pizzas, but we also make sure to offer customers with flexible or special diets more choice when it comes to things like plant-based or option-free.
What does a typical day look like for you? No day is the same, I like that. I spend a few days a week in our test kitchen tasting and developing new recipes, which I then brief to suppliers, run commercials, and then discuss with our operations team how our busy stores can get the product at a great price. make price for customers. We recently developed our new vegan ‘PepperoNay’ pizza, which meant learning about our new sustainability strategy and sourcing completely new ingredients to ensure it tastes as good as our non-vegan options.
Other days I could make perfect pizzas (like the one I recently helped develop – The Ultimate Chicken Mexicana) for our TV ads and photo shoots. Alternatively, I could help set up internal new product launches to really celebrate our successes and showcase our new products to the wider teams that support us through the development process.
“I was offered my first work experience in food product development through a lady I used to swim with! Work experience helps you get your foot in the door”
Tell us how you went about applying for your job: I applied during the second lockdown, while walking on leave. I initially had a phone call with HR to verify I was a match for Domino’s. Then I was invited for a first interview online with my manager and team, then a second interview via Microsoft Teams. This interview was with the head of nutrition and the head of marketing, so it was a lot more daunting. I had to present a new concept for Domino’s and walk the team through how it would be implemented, what the cost would be, and how it would be marketed and sold.
What is the best thing about working for a hospitality company? Being involved in such a fundamental part of everyone’s favorite Friday night takeaway. We bring joy to people through food and I am very proud to see an idea I helped develop being sold in Domino’s across the UK and Ireland. I love seeing people talk to each other on socials about what to order and then come together to enjoy our new products.
And what is the biggest misconception people have about working in food & beverage? I don’t think many people fully understand the amount of work and thought that goes into the food they eat and that everything you see was developed that way for a reason. For example, when you see it on the menu, our new Cheeky Little Pizza is just a fun new product, but to me it’s the result of months of careful market research and product development to respond to the demand for healthier, more sustainable options. I think people also assume that I only eat pizza, which is not (always) true.
What advice would you give to other young people who want to get into the food and beverage industry? There are so many exciting positions within the food industry, and always will be, because people need (and love) to eat! I would say to young people: get as much work experience as possible and don’t be afraid to ask around. I was offered my first work experience in food product development through a lady I used to swim with. Work experience helps you get your foot in the door, learn the fundamentals of different roles and help you understand the direction you want to go.
What is your ultimate career dream? My dream is to be the head of nutrition and lead a team of great developers who focus on food quality and put the customer at the center of our decisions.