Meet Mahbir Thukral, Interim Marketing Manager Savory/Snacks EAME

7:04 AM

Defining trends and analyzing them can be a complex study in our ever-changing world. In order to do this successfully and systematically, one must single-handedly maintain both micro and macro view of themes, events, and behaviors defining the current and future state of the world along with the ability to recognize impactful patterns and connect the dots on the spot and then channel them into executable actions.

Today, we introduce you to Mahbir Thukral, whose job it is to conduct such work and who delves into research like the major 2016 dining trends in France, Spain and Italy.

Here’s what he told us:

Right to left: Jamal Darkaoui, IFF Flavors EAME Research Chef and Mahbir Thukral, Interim Marketing Manager Savory/Snacks EAME, IFF
MT: I'm the interim Marketing Manager for the savory and snack category in Europe, Africa and the Middle East (EAME), where we create flavorings for end use products, including cooking and table sauces, soups, bouillon cubes, potato chips and savory crackers, just to name a few.

Supporting the category account managers throughout the EAME region, it's my role to offer market insights to opportunities they're currently working on.

I examine the marketplace; identify new segment and flavor opportunities; and with the guidance of our amazing flavorist and technical teams, advise on novel flavor directions, which may lead to commercial applications.

Having only joined IFF recently, I've already been fortunate to work on several very exciting projects. Each customer is facing very unique challenges, and it's my job to make sure that IFF's flavor ingredient capabilities are center stage, offering value driven solutions.

My role also involves the review of how IFF's marketing and Sensory and Consumer Insights (SCI) department can better support our account managers, so they then have the most effective collateral to drive business for the company.

Working at IFF

MT: To be quite honest, when I joined IFF, I was taken aback by the authentic entrepreneurial spirit that runs throughout every vein of the company's work culture.

In the case of IFF, true to their word, and to my astonishment, this company really does provide me with the capacity to explore new avenues, take calculated risks, and to express my honest opinion on matters that impact my professional remit. My superiors and colleagues give me the space to present ideas however eccentric they may first seem, trial alternative ways to do things, and seek out new partners who bring added value to better the quality of both my function within IFF, as well as the company's wider commercial success.

I'm not alone in having this opinion. Other colleagues I've spoken with, on both the flavor and fragrance sides of the business have expressed similar satisfaction. So I can clearly see that this is a very positive quality which is evident throughout the entire IFF company culture.

In the Hilversum office in particular, the working environment is very multicultural. Most likely, regardless of the country I'm doing a project on, they'll be a national from that territory within my close proximity. This is extremely useful as I can simply go to them to qualify my starting points. There's never a hesitation by anyone not to help each other.

Approach to Research 

MT: Before undertaking any research for a project, it's very important to set out clearly defined objectives at the beginning. To create a briefing of sorts, which will firstly aid the research process for myself, and will also become a reference point for others (such as the category account managers), as to why certain research conclusions and then the proceeding flavor directions were made.

I usually begin by asking myself what exactly I want to find out, and why. There's no complicated process or technique involved. I will simply write down the questions on a piece of paper.

Such questions could be, "How do Polish consumers cook and prepare pasta dishes?" or "What are the most popular dishes that French consumers cook at home?"

A little tip I've learned along the way is that if the research is market-specific, actually searching the appropriate terms in the language of that given territory will usually lead to some amazing insights.

 In addition, given that our business and industry is constantly evolving, generally speaking it's imperative to stay abreast with current affairs and market trends. I'm regularly reading business journals and news websites during my work day, as well as in my spare time. You need to have a natural interest for such information to be in this business. Doing so provides knowledge and ideas, which may or may not be appropriate for the project I'm currently working on, but will most likely find their way into a project that I could be working on in the future.

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