Emma Curistan, NPD manager, Finnebrogue Artisan
BRIEFLY OUTLINE YOUR EMPLOYMENT HISTORY TO DATE
As part of my Consumer Studies degree, I completed a one-year placement at M&S Head Office in London, working in product development. When I graduated, I moved to England to work in a product development and marketing role with Samworth Brothers, a large food manufacturing group. I then spent some time in food recruitment, specialising in roles across food retail, manufacturing and brands.
WHEN DID YOU TAKE UP THIS POST?
I first joined Finnebrogue in 2008 when it was a small company with a small team of people and a handful of products. We had just one production line and we were on our way from being famous for Oisin venison to challenging the way sausages were made forever. In 2009 we secured the deal to supply all of M&S top tier sausages and, from then on, we have continued to learn and grow.
WHAT DOES YOUR ROLE INVOLVE?
At Finnebrogue, we combine ground-breaking innovation, advanced high-speed production methods and artisanal values to produce fantastic food. I work as part of a busy NPD team to develop and launch exciting new food products for M&S. I work closely with the technical, commercial and operations teams to deliver a wide range of products across various projects. We have a fantastic team of motivated, hardworking people all striving to make our products the best they can possibly be.
BRIEFLY OUTLINE A TYPICAL DAY
I could be in London presenting new products to M&S or on-site in Downpatrick working on recipes and tasting samples in the kitchen. My days often involve attending trials or launches in one of our factories, meetings to discuss projects or travelling to visit suppliers to find new ingredients or packaging. I often spend time searching for inspiration in restaurants, cafes, food markets and butchers.
In the past year, I have been to Holland looking for the perfect green jalapeno, Germany to see new kit for the factory and I spent a few weeks eating my way around America tasting lots of burgers and hot dogs to get ideas for summer BBQ.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE PROUDEST MOMENT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE?
There have been so many great moments at Finnebrogue, it’s hard to pick just one. Seeing our products on the shelves after months, sometimes years of work, always feels like a huge achievement. I will always remember the first time one of our products was featured in the M&S Christmas TV advert – we were all over the moon! Last year we had fun launching The Love Sausage with M&S which caused a huge stir on social media and was featured on numerous TV programmes.
It was also cooked by chef James Martin for Chris Evans who tasted it live on his radio breakfast show on Valentine’s Day and thankfully it was given a big thumbs up.
I am delighted to see how far our brand The Good Little Company has come since we first launched, and it makes me very proud to see how many people we are helping with our charity partners; our donations are almost at the £1m mark.
WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO TO UNWIND AWAY FROM WORK?
I have two little boys and a crazy beagle that keep me busy at home. I love food both in and out of work, so I enjoy cooking, eating out and visiting new restaurants. I started running a couple of years ago and I am currently training for my second half marathon.
TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT NOT MANY PEOPLE MAY KNOW
In 2017 I was on the BBC Supermarket Secrets TV programme with Gregg Wallace (Masterchef judge), showing how we make our M&S Skinny Sausages.