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Kraft Heinz Company New Zealand

  • #3 in Retail, sales and consumer goods
  • 50,000 - 100,000 employees

Monique Jean Macalister

I work with amazing people and love being able to interact with them daily. R&D is very central to the organization and therefore requires a high degree of communication with multiple functions

Where did you grow up? Important stages of your life (school, education, experience abroad, jobs etc.)

I grew up in Auckland, attending Parnell Primary and then Diocesan School for Girls. I studied International Baccalaureate at high school focusing on my interests including Biology, Physics and Business Studies. I went on to study Food Science at Otago University starting in 2014 and completed my Honours degree abroad at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in 2017. Over summer breaks I worked as a Marketing Assistant at Kiwi Yachting, while also managing a side business, a Christmas tree stall, for a few weeks over the start of December.  

How did you get to your current job position? For how long have you had it?

I was assigned to the R&D Private Label team during the Graduate Program and have been here for the last two years. However, I recently expressed interest in gaining cross-functional experience within the business and next month, I will be joining the R&D Co-Pack team in Melbourne.

How did you choose your specialisation (compared to others)? / Were you weighing up any other alternatives before choosing this specialisation?

Food Science is a pathway to a wide range of specializations from QA (Quality Assurance) to PD (Product Development) to Marketing. While Marketing always held a sense of appeal, I chose to specialize in PD believing it would provide me with a stronger, more technical skillset that I could utilize later to delve into other functions.

Product specialization is also possible; however, I have enjoyed the exposure to different products and processes due to Kraft Heinz having an extensive product portfolio.

What was your interview process like? What kind of questions were you asked?

The Kraft Heinz Graduate Program attracts a high number of applicants and therefore the interview process was quite extensive. Candidates were shortlisted based on an online application and psychometric testing. Upon being short-listed there were three further stages: 

  • Video Interview: a short video about yourself, why should you be hired by Kraft Heinz and how you fit the company.
  • Assessment Centre: there were two stages, group activities and panel interview. The group activities largely revolved around presenting back on a case study as a team. The panel interview was multiple one on one interviews. Questions were largely situational i.e. ‘Tell me about a time you failed. How did you handle it?’ ‘Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully persuade someone to see things your way at work.’ ‘Tell me about your greatest accomplishment.’
  • ‘Coffee’ with the Managing Director: a presentation about yourself and why you fit the company to the management team followed by a casual discussion for any further questions to be answered either from candidates or Kraft Heinz. Unfortunately, no coffee was actually involved.

I believe the structure of the interview process has changed slightly over the years since I applied.

What does your employer do? Food and Beverage Manufacturer.

What are your areas of responsibility? As an R&D Technologist, I have two main areas of responsibility: food product development (either developing new products or improving existing) and technical support to the factory. 

Can you describe a typical work day? What was the last thing you worked on? There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ work day, no two days that are alike – it might involve office work all day, or developing product samples in the kitchen, meeting with marketers (or other departments), and some days may be dominated by doing factory trials. 

What are the career prospects with your job? / Where could you or others in your position go from here? Career paths may lead to R&D management, although Kraft Heinz also encourages cross-functional movement, with R&D complementing several functions including Production, Quality, and Marketing. Industry pathways can also offer more research-based opportunities.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Most employers require a degree in Food Science, Food Technology or Food Engineering to do what I do. 

What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now? 

Investment Broker.

What do you love the most about your job? Which kind of task do you enjoy the most? 

I work with amazing people and love being able to interact with them daily. R&D is very central to the organization and therefore requires a high degree of communication with multiple functions

What’s the biggest limitation of your job? Do you bear a lot of responsibility? Do you have to work on weekends? Are stress levels high?

While you usually work regular business hours, you may need to run factory trials at night or (although rarely) on weekends.

Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student? They don’t necessarily have to be related to your role or even be career-focused

  • Embrace opportunities to try new things, particularly if it pushes you outside your comfort zone.
  • Your university life is so much more than your degree.
  • Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes are often the best learning opportunities.