Opportunity to Shape Product Strategy for Innovative Plant-based Ingredient Company

A new kind of ingredient innovation company has retained Kincannon & Reed to recruit a newly created Product Management Lead role charged with promoting profitable sales growth through the development and management of strategic relationships internally and with the Company’s supply chain partners.

The Company
They are a new kind of ingredient innovation company dedicated to reshaping the landscape of food through science and technology. The Company is pioneering the discovery of delicious, better food experiences, that are animal-free to improve human health and animal welfare; and reduce the impact animal agriculture has on our natural resources.

The Company is a growth-stage venture capital-backed company with a vision to fundamentally change the understanding of food and develop ingredients that don’t compromise between taste and food values. The Company leverages its foundational synthetic biology technology from an exclusive partnership along with proprietary technology and know-how to produce food ingredients that expand the realm of what’s possible with animal-free solutions. As the possibilities expand, so too does the appetite for better food solutions. The race for animal-free, ethically produced alternatives is at the heart of changing consumer values and it’s what is driving the next generation of food companies to pioneer new plant-based innovations.

Part art, part technology, part passion – their team understands what it takes to make great innovation work and they help food innovators unlock new possibilities for food. Leveraging food science to unravel the secrets of food, the Company works with partners and customers to innovate new food properties that maintain taste and texture while achieving better nutrition, accessibility, and sustainability.

Position Overview
Reporting to the Chief Commercial Officer, the selected candidate for the new position of Product Management Lead will serve as an expert in market growth drivers impacting the industry and leverage that expertise with the Company’s innovative product offerings. More specifically, s/he will be responsible to:

  • Exploit the Company’s innovative technology to develop and implement optimal product strategies, including defining optimal price/margin goals.
  • Develop a detailed understanding of the overall market (size, composition, dynamics/evolution, competitors) and identify the priority market sectors, applications, and customers that will benefit from the Company’s unique value proposition.
  • Develop and execute business strategies that maintain alignment with key partners, focusing on key markets to drive growth and maximize overall profitability for business.
  • Align with R&D to ensure capabilities are developed to support the product strategy and with sales teams to ensure customer needs are understood, the Company’s capabilities are showcased and ultimately delivered to customers.
  • Develop an expert industry point of view to create a compelling business plan that aids in financial modeling with a growth focus and eye on COGS planning.
  • Understanding sales trends and communicate new sales opportunities to capitalize on trends. Continual collaboration with cross-functional teams to optimize cost negotiations with partners, including cost increases or decreases.
  • Develop key metrics and conduct ongoing monitoring and measurement of partners’ performance against metrics.

Candidate Profile
The Product Management Lead will have an entrepreneurial mindset with an understanding of the demands and challenges of pioneering new products, partners, and category segments within the food industry. S/he will possess a balance of strong commercial and technical experience to be able to problem-solve across a wide variety of commercial and technology topics. The ideal candidate will have the following attributes:

Experience, skills, and critical success factors

  • 10+ years of experience leading product and commercial development function in a food or food ingredient business. Prior success taking consumer/customer insights and developing them into commercially viable initiatives from concept through launch.
  • Prior experience translating new, innovative product vision into actionable business strategies to inform product and price decisions balanced with short and long-term efforts to optimize growth and profitability.
  • Highly skilled economic and financial modeling experience to define and execute against product plans.
  • A seasoned leader with the ability to align a wide array of people across functions to drive progress of strategic product objectives.
  • A highly skilled negotiator with an ability to establish strong working relationships and persuade/influence others. Prior success negotiating pricing, contract terms, and agreements with suppliers and customers with mutual benefit, professionalism, and financial goals.
  • Undergraduate Business or related degree; MBA desired.

Personal characteristics

  • Strategic thinker and doer with excellent business acumen and ability to grasp technical product offerings combined with a detail orientation to effectively manage day-to-day projects. Able to synthesize customer trends and market info into successful alignment of product and customer strategies.
  • Outstanding communication skills. Demonstrated ability to effectively visualize, understand, and persuasively communicate what the Company can bring to partners and present layman’s level understanding of the Company’s science and value.
  • Ability to quickly generate trust with stakeholders and develop productive relationships.
  • Affinity for innovative technologies and food-agricultural applications that address important health and sustainability opportunities.

Critical Success Factors

  • Market knowledge – Specifically, in Food and CPG industry – developing products, applications, pricing, value; customer-focused and anticipates industry or market problems and opportunities.
  • Business Acumen – Use all available resources to craft solutions that meet customer needs, supplier strategies, and drive profitability. Use data and analytics-driven decision making.
  • Responsiveness – Communicate to internal and external partners in a timely manner.
  • Collaboration – Understand the mission of the department and company and the importance of working for sales, internal partners, and between suppliers.
  • Technical Expertise – Become recognized industry and internal technical resource and drive product development.
  • Leadership Establish trust through service, high emotional quotient, and positivity.
  • Organization Demonstrate great time management skills, and ability to prioritize.

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