Diverse learning and peers drive FMCG career full of variety
Mark Rogers leads strategy development at the manufacturer of food brands including Birds Eye, John West and Leggo’s. He reveals how his studies – particularly his MBA – enabled him to build the broad skillset and learn new perspectives needed for a challenging fast-paced industry.
His current role is the stuff of dreams for many MBA students – designing and driving the long-term growth strategy for top food manufacturer Simplot’s Australian business.
“I work with the executive team to define our ambition over a five-year horizon, agree what we’ll do to achieve it and when, and track our performance against it,” Mark Rogers says.
Prior to that, he spent almost nine years at Lion Dairy and Drinks, which is now a subsidiary of Bega Cheese following an acquisition that Mark himself played an instrumental role in, and considers a career highlight.
“I led the transition of all shared business services to Bega, which involved setting up lots of new teams and ways of working,” he says.
“One team of 20 people all started remotely in March 2020, at the start of the pandemic – to successfully keep the functions running while navigating the uncertainty of COVID was something I’m really proud of.”
How MBA studies linked to career success
Mark’s success in these two roles followed his Monash MBA studies, which he concluded in 2011.
He closely links the benefits of his MBA, which complemented his Commerce and Economics degree a decade earlier, to his career success.
“I’m not a qualified accountant, so I found my corporate finance and accounting classes most useful,” Mark says.
“I studied these during the period in my career when I was working on some acquisition opportunities. It was brilliant to be able to directly apply the things I was working on in classes.”
Not only that, “Monash’s MBA program allowed me to cover all the critical business functions I needed to build my skillset,” Mark says.
“I learned from some inspiring teachers, spanning everything from marketing, finance, M&A, organisation system dynamics and even a company trading simulation.”
“The diversity of students was important as well. In my cohort, my fellow students were engineers, teachers, nurses, lawyers, sportspeople… from Australia, China, India, Uganda, the USA, Peru, the UAE.
“This variety of perspectives helped shape my thinking and provided a really rich learning experience.”
Drivers in his early career
In his early career, Mark started in a generalist graduate role at RACV, before moving into corporate strategy roles in utilities and packaging.
He counts other career highlights as advising major grocery and convenience retailers on growing their businesses; and working in product development, including making a frozen iced coffee!
He is passionate about the FMCG industry after several years making his mark there. “I’ve loved the challenge and the variety that the FMCG industry offers.”
Mark was the proud recipient of a Monash MBA Dean’s Award in 2011. And he’s come to realise his passion in life is “problem solving - I love working on interesting things!”
“I’ve come to realise that it’s the challenge that drives me, not promotions or fancy titles.”
Greatest career influences
Mark says the greatest influences in his career have been his leaders.
“I’ve been fortunate to have really talented people support me as a professional and as an individual - it’s really important to have people who believe in you in all facets of your role,” he says.
Key advice and tips for current and future students
- Consider a career in business for its diversity. “You’re certain to find an industry or organisation which presents you with challenges that motivate you.”
- Choose high-quality organisations. “Great organisations have great people, so there’s the opportunity to do really interesting work and have a fantastic time doing it.”
- Try to say yes to opportunities as they present themselves; “Even if they’re not something that you’d have seen yourself doing.”
- Focus on work that interests you, because “you’ll probably be good at it, and then success will come.”