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Director, Marketing - Innovation

Mississauga, ON

Director, Marketing - Innovation

A Sustainable, Forward Thinking Protein Company

Maple Leaf Foods is a leading meat and plant-based protein company, employing over 11,500 people and publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange. We are proud of our roots, which trace back well over 100 years, but our vision and purpose are decidedly forward looking. As we pursue our vision to become the most sustainable protein company on earth, we are committed to creating shared value – creative business value through addressing some of the world’s most critical social and environmental challenges. Our goal is to build a more sustainable food system, which provides nutritious affordable food, operates within planetary limits, cares for animals responsibly, and meaningfully engages with our communities to advance a more just society. We are advancing bold changes within Maple Leaf and more broadly within society to pursue our vision. We deeply believe this is the sustainable path to growth.

Our job is to make great food

Maple Leaf Foods embraces a strong values-based culture, where our people are deeply engaged in work that is purposeful, fast-paced and challenging.  We cultivate an open, non-bureaucratic and inclusive workplace that fosters safety and transparency, along with individual leadership and accountability. Each Maple Leaf team member has a voice and plays an active role in helping all of us achieve our goals with passion and discipline. We support one another to grow professionally, to learn new skills and to take on challenging experiences in the spirit of continuous improvement. 

Raise the Good in Food

We have united behind a shared purpose – to Raise the Good in Food. This spans a dramatic transformation of our flagship Maple Leaf brand, replacing anything artificial with simple, natural ingredients; investments and process changes to reduce our environmental footprint by 50% by 2025; building a diverse and inclusive culture where all talent thrives; becoming a leader in animal care; and advancing food security through our charitable foundation, the Maple Leaf Centre for Action on Food Security.

Our Leadership Values 

Eight core values guide us in everything that we do.
  • Do What’s Right
  • Shared Value
  • High Performance
  • Diverse and Inclusive Teams
  • Disciplined Decision Making
  • Our Accountability
  • Intense Curiosity
  • Transparency and Humility

The Opportunity

 Reporting to the SVP Marketing & Innovation, the Innovation Director will establish and lead a revised innovation process for Maple Leaf’s retail branded business.  This role will own the creation of a long-term innovation pipeline for all new platforms, new product lines, and brand wide claims progression initiatives.  The Innovation Director will also lead the deployment and ongoing refinement of a newly defined innovation process and will support the application of this new process to other types of innovation projects (e.g. line extensions) which will continue to be led by the Category Teams.  Ultimately, this role will drive our innovation agenda and will play a critical role in helping the business achieve its branded growth objectives

A snapshot of some of the exciting things you will lead and do: 

  • Lead the roll-out and implementation of the new pre-PDP innovation approach, including governance, processes, tools, and metrics
  • Own the creation and validation of a robust pipeline of innovation ideas designed against meaningful consumer needs.  Scope includes innovation/renovation idea for new platforms, new product lines, and brand wide claims progression opportunities. You will identify consumer problems and shepherd solutions through the new process to convert them into PDP-ready opportunities; including:
    • Partnering with Consumer Insights to develop and implement a reinvigorated approach to consumer research
    • Developing ‘Need to Believe’ business plans built on solving consumer problems and ensuring project feasibility
    • Identifying assumptions and conducting consumer tests to validate
  • For new platform innovation, you will also:
    • Build prototypes and pilots when necessary, engaging external partners as appropriate
    • Support development of the selling story, in close collaboration with internal sales organization to influence customer sell-in across all channels
    • Partner with the Commercial Execution team to launch these new platforms through PDP and into market, and leading in-market performance for an introductory term (~12 weeks)
  • Liaise and work collaboratively with Category and Brand Marketing teams to ensure:
    • Alignment and effective transition of projects from Innovation team leadership to Category team leadership
    • A smooth transition from the Innovation process to the PDP process
    • Innovations within brands happen within the defined brand governance
  • Manage a team of 1-2 direct reports who will help deliver our innovation agenda
  • Lead the annual innovation planning process ensuring innovation goals are met 
  • Teach, help energize and help build fluency in the process with the Category/Brand teams and overall Marketing & Innovation organization
  • Partner with Finance to ensure progress is tracked, and results are consolidated, for all innovation projects to help the Innovation Steering Team monitor progress and provide guidance and support

What we have to offer you:

  • Be part of a company with an inspiring and unique vision, with a deep commitment to sustainability and expanding its leadership in sustainable protein across North America
  • Professional and career development opportunities, supported by our commitment to talent development through our partnership with the Ivey School of Business. 
  • Competitive Health and Wellness benefits that start on your first day of employment
  • Defined Contribution Pension Plan
  • Commitment to Learning – courses, resources and tools provided to all employees
  • Employee Assistance Program

What you will bring:

  • General Manager mindset with a bias towards delighting consumers
  • A track record of delivering successful product innovations, and leading change, in a CPG environment 
  • The ability to navigate ambiguity and transform it into clarity for the organization
  • The advanced leadership, and change management, skills needed to stand up and lead a new function
  • Strong relationship building skills with a well-developed “people interaction” skill set who can successfully navigate and influence a complex organization
  • A strategic thinker who will role up their sleeves and get their hands dirty, and who can be creative within constraints 
  • Ability to partner with the Consumer Insights group to identify meaningful consumer problems and develop and validate solutions, and quickly develop Need to Believe business cases and get to decisions on whether to proceed or not 
  • Ability to develop and sell-in business case plans for innovation and commercialization ideas
  • Must be a self starter with an ownership mindset; passionate, proactive and performance driven, with a bias for action  
  • Strong coaching and people development skills
  • Familiarity with (and experience applying) design thinking an asset
  • General MLF Marketing competencies:
    • Commercial Acumen - Solid understanding of key drivers of marketing, brand management, and the P&L and ability to leverage them to identify and execute changes to move the business forward
    • Communication Skills - Able to effectively communicate consistently with a variety of audiences to achieve desired outcomes
    • Leadership and Influence - Able to stay focused on driving key business priorities in a dynamic business environment
    • Agility & Effectiveness- Skilled in mobilizing and managing teams to achieve commercial objectives
    • Critical Thinking, Insights & Strategic Leadership - Big picture thinking with an ability to clearly articulate a strategic direction, justified with sound fact-based rationale through insight and analysis

We thank all applicants for their interest in exploring employment opportunities with Maple Leaf Foods however only those selected for an interview will be contacted. Applicants may be subject to a background check and must meet the security criteria designated for the position.  

Maple Leaf Foods is committed to Employment Equity and maintaining a diverse workforce.  Job applicants with a disability who require reasonable accommodation for any part of the application or hiring process can contact our Talent Attraction Team at accommodations@mapleleaf.com.  Reasonable accommodations will be determined on a case-by-case basis and your request will be responded to as soon as possible. 
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