Alex De Ceunynck

A brief history of your career since leaving the University of Birmingham

To begin with, I was struggling to find a suitable job. In 2010 the economic crisis was still having an influence over the job market. After 3 months of searching, I took up a position as a recruiter, just to get my career started. I stayed in this role for 18 months, but then decided that I’d rather return to marketing. I was eventually able to start at Lidl as an Actions Manager (trade marketing). This provided me with the opportunity to grow. Within a few years, I became a valued team member responsible for training new colleagues. In my last few months at Lidl I also moved over to the sales department to become a Category Manager. Unfortunately, this newly created position didn’t live up to my expectations, and I searched for a new job. After having spent 4.5 years at Lidl, I managed to find a role as a Category Manager at Continental Foods, which is the owner of some of the biggest brands in Belgium. I lasted ten months in this position, and then the company underwent restructuring. After this, I decided to then focus on a role as a Brand Manager to further my career. Currently I am a Brand Manager for a large baby food brand, which is a distributor of international brands.

Skills and knowledge from your postgraduate degree have you used in your career so far

I use skills in presentation, teamwork, writing and analysis. I developed many of these skills at Birmingham Business School, and have used these a lot in my career, although it has been for very different circumstances/levels of practice.

Main work activities in your current role

Promotional planning, follow up meetings, and assessing the brand’s product range alongside preparing presentations for internal and external stakeholders, and daily management of brand communication are all typical activities.

A typical day in your job

A typical day involves researching the data about how brand products are performing, and translating this into actions for our stakeholders (sales, retail, brand owners…)

Main challenges in your role

Given market pressure, the brand I work for is going to lose a catalogue of products. I am currently considering ways in which we can counter this through innovative practice and communication. I am also constantly challenged by an Absentee Manager who does not want to take responsibility for their actions, and who expects me to solve everything on my own.

Why did this type of work appeal to you?

I’ve always wanted to be involved in the commercial side of marketing. Thinking about how the customer perceived the brand is just as important as pouring through data.

Advice for students looking to enter this area of work?

Always focus on the big picture. Job content might be a motivational factor, but the working environment and your team and management relationships are equally important. Every job has a few elements that you might perceive as negatives, but you should always concentrate on the things that drive you.