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Apple drink

Flavourist & Innovation Director

Claire Murphy

My role is about creating new flavour combinations, with some commercial elements involved.

00:16 My role really within the organisation is to create and promote pro-active and blue-sky innovation.

00:22 What that means in terms of what we do on a day-to-day basis is

00:26 I try to encourage our flavourists to think outside the box,

00:29 I encourage our applications people to think about new ways of

00:33 using and applying flavours into different applications,

00:36 and actually always looking at new raw materials, at new technologies,

00:40 and ways that we can employ them within our business.

00:45 A flavourist is also known as a flavour chemist and a flavourist can

00:51 arrive at different areas of their career; a junior flavourist might not have any

00:56 formal qualifications in flavour technology

00:59 but is likely to have a technical qualification of some sort.

01:02 And the flavourist can go all the way up to somebody with a PhD in biochemistry.

01:06 A flavourist’s role is to create that impart, enhance or improve taste,

01:13 and flavours are applied to a lot of different types of product,

01:17 to recapture or regain the essence of the original product.  

01:25 Part of my role is to develop new ideas and more compelling opportunities to use flavourings.

01:29 So often I’m looking at new sources of stimulation,

01:34 so I often crash categories into each other,

01:37 so I’ll take an idea that’s been used in confectionery and apply it in to a biscuit application,

01:41 I’ll take an idea that’s been used in a beverage and apply it into a hard-boiled candy,

01:46 so I’m always looking for new ideas and ways to generate flavour.

01:53 I could be in the lab one minute, I could be with customers the next,

01:57 I could be researching another ingredient with a supplier,

02:00 I could be at the library researching, you know, the next big thing in, what’s happening in Russia,

02:06 or I can be at my desk, you know, filing enquiries and working with customers on a day-to-day basis.

 02:14 I’ve got 13 O levels and 4 A levels, after my A levels I thought

02:20 I’d rather go out and earn some money, so I was actually was employed by a company that

02:24 sponsored me to do further qualifications and my degree.

02:28 My degree is in applied chemistry,

02:31 but I’ve also done a CBA because I was also interested in the marketing side of the business as well,

02:36 but yeah, I will probably go back and do an MBA.

02:39 As Director of Innovation, I actually straddle the technical side of the business,

02:43 and the commercial side of the business, so probably 50% of my time actually is still in the lab

02:48 so I work really closely with the flavourists, I work very closely with the applications teams,

02:53 I’m still responsible for the beverage applications part of our business,

02:56 so I’m in the lab probably two days a week, minimum.

03:00 Developing new products, looking at new flavours, creating new concepts for customers,

03:04 working on customer briefs, working on pro-active briefs.

03:07 So I get the best of both worlds.

03:12 I think chemistry as a qualification will lend itself to a really wide and diverse range of different jobs.

03:19 Obviously I’ve started off as a, very heavily involved in the kind of chemistry side of the business,

03:24 but then actually progressed on to more of a commercial role.

03:27 But I think that having a chemistry qualification, or having any technical qualification,

03:31 it might be in biochemistry, it might be in chemistry, it might be in physics, it might even be in biology,

03:37 it’ll lend itself to different roles within an organisation that you might not have expected.

03:42 To do my job, you have to be innately curious, ask questions all the time,

03:47 you have to be genuinely interested in food, drink and pharmaceutical.

03:51 You have to be interested in process, you have to, you know, understand how

03:55 products are produced, what ingredients are used in food substances,

03:59 you have to understand how to sell your products,

04:02 and be able to talk passionately about what you do and how you do it, and the flavour that you’ve got.

04:10 One of the best parts of my job is actually walking in to a supermarket

04:15 and seeing people pick a product up, off the shelf that you’ve designed, that you’ve invented,

04:19 that your flavours are used in and put into their shopping basket.

04:23 That’s the best part of my job.

“A junior flavourist might not have any form of qualifications in flavour technology but is likely to have a technical qualification of some sort.”

How did I get started?

I left education after sixth form, with 13 O levels and 4 A levels. I went straight into work, and the company sponsored me doing an applied chemistry degree.

Career progression

Being recruited by Aromco after sixth form, my role has branched out from just lab work to more commercial activities. I hope to do an MBA at some point.

Skills used

Creativity, Team Worker, Data Handling and Research, Management, Innovative, Practical Lab Skills, Communication, Organisation

“To do my job you need to be innately curious and ask questions all the time. You have to be genuinely interested in food, drink and pharmaceuticals. ”