font loading for Top nav





In honour of International Women’s Day, we asked women from across the M&S Food business to come together for a spring lunch. Over their favourite M&S dishes, they shared the inspiring stories behind their impressive careers


April Preston, director of
product development

“My job is about understanding food trends, then working with our fantastic team of product developers, chefs and food experts to innovate, set quality standards and bring new products to our customers. I’m very lucky – I get to taste a lot! I started my career in the restaurant industry, and I was a product developer at M&S until five years ago, when I left to work in food manufacturing for one of our major suppliers, before joining Harrods to revamp their food halls. When I got the call from M&S to come back, there was no way I could turn it down – I love the brand. Anyone who says you can get to a senior level without working hard is wrong, which is why I think it’s so important to love what you do. I’m very busy so although I love cooking from scratch, I often use shortcuts, like this slow-cooked Vietnamese pork belly, which I serve with fresh chilli and spring onions. A good dish has to be multi-layered in terms of flavour, texture and temperature, and this ticks all of those boxes.”

Discover M&S Food

Louise Nicholls, head of responsible sourcing and sustainability, and Claire Johnson, head of strategy

Louise (pictured on the left): “I look after Plan A, the food sustainability team, and our award-winning packaging technology team. We work on issues as diverse as palm oil, human rights, Fairtrade, food waste and plastic reduction. Attitude is so important when it comes to progressing your career – people want to work with enthusiastic colleagues. My favourite M&S dish is our rotisserie chicken. It’s full of flavour, and, of course, comes from farms we know and trust.”

Claire: “I head up a team in our logistics and supply chain department, working on strategy for long and short-term projects. I have to be very organised! Although it’s a fairly male-dominated sector, I’d hate that to deter people – there’s plenty of room. If there’s something you’re passionate about, don’t let anything hold you back. My M&S favourite is Our Best Ever steak pie. With huge chunks of steak and crisp pastry, it’s just delicious.”

Discover M&S Food

Sharry Cramond, director of marketing

“My job at M&S Food is my dream role. I’m responsible for the way we communicate with our customers, which covers everything from packaging design to emails, from social media to the posters you see in store, and of course our advertising. In a typical day, I might be working with the product developers on exciting new launches, meeting with the trading team, or I could be on a video shoot with our panel of celebrity food tasters – Amanda Holden, Rochelle Humes, Paddy McGuinness and Emma Willis. My favourite M&S dish is our flavour-packed Plant Kitchen vegan chilli non carne – it’s the best chilli I’ve eaten, meat or not. My advice to anyone who’s starting out is to always go the extra mile. In my experience, there’ll always be someone smarter than you, or from a more privileged background – I come from a council estate in Scotland – but I believe that where I am today was definitely helped by having a positive, can-do attitude: ‘The answer’s yes, now what was the question?’”

Discover M&S Food

Suzanne Howse, head of food analytics and central planning; Sue Bell, head of technology; Jemma Hall, head of warehouse operations

Suzanne (left): “Data is the DNA of the business. I lead a team that analyses data and creates tools and insight. The best career advice I’ve had is to be yourself. As women, we often doubt ourselves, but we should focus on what we can do.”

Sue (centre): “In my job, there isn’t a typical day. My team looks after product safety, integrity and legality, working closely with the product developers to bring new products to market. At the moment, we’re working towards making all Percy Pigs vegetarian. Hard work and enthusiasm are the keys to success – you do have to put the hours in.”

Jemma (right): “I manage the third parties who run our regional and national food distribution centres. I spend a lot of time visiting sites, trying to drive efficiencies and improvements, and working internally to manage volumes and promotions. I’m the person who’s ultimately responsible for making sure your turkey gets to your store in time for Christmas! Working in logistics I’m often the only woman in a room full of men, but I’ve never let this put me off.”

Discover M&S Food

Editor: Heather Taylor / Photographer: Dan Jones / Art direction: Claire Coultard / Food styling: Matthew Ford
Wardrobe styling: Tamala Ayres / Hair and make-up: Brigitta Smart / Prop styling: Wei Tang

Trending stories