Melanie Alforque: My life at 1 Vegemite Way

By Tessa Shaw

Melanie Alforque recalls her days at Melbourne Business School (MBS) as some of the most defining moments of her life, ultimately leading to her current role as Brand Manager for ZoOSh at Bega Cheese Limited.

Melanie Alforque’s days are highly varied, and the young marketer is sometimes left feeling like she doesn’t have enough hours in the day, but she loves the fast-paced environment.

“My role touches multiple cross-functional teams and as the brand custodian, my responsibility is to shape the future direction of ZoOSh and implement activities for growth,” she explains. “I’m often doing several things at any given time, from reading consumer feedback on my products, leading NPD projects and analysing my brand’s P&L, to creating social media content with our digital team, or even working with our Sales teams on retailer activations. It’s important to prioritise to avoid burning out!”

Alforque’s passion for creativity is a clear driver for her success, and she acknowledges that being able to stretch her visionary muscles is one of the best things about her job. “I've really enjoyed crafting my strategic brand plan for ZoOSh,” Alforque says. “Sometimes you can get stuck in the day-to-day, so it's nice to pause and truly think about ways to drive sustainable, long-term brand growth.”

Alforque also recommends leveraging the creativity of people in your wider team, for example, by running ideation sessions for innovation opportunities. “We’re also lucky to have a talented Food Design Manager who masterfully creates delicious recipes with our products which we use for various platforms. I’m a massive foodie, so I never say no to a ZoOSh dressings, mayo or dips recipe tasting session!”

As a marketer, you quickly realise that you can’t do everything on your own. You’re constantly working with different parts of the business, which I really enjoy! Melanie Alforque

Melanie Alforque at 1 Vegemite Way in Port Melbourne

How did it all begin? 

“At Melbourne Business School, I had the opportunity to undertake subjects like the Global Business Practicum (GBP) in Shanghai, Social Entrepreneurship, and Public Relations Management, and in these subjects, I worked with other students in teams to help craft solutions in business challenges, all of which I absolutely loved,” says Alforque.

Undertaking the GBP with some of the best from her cohort was one brilliant way to gain exposure to other industries such as banking and finance, while also cementing her sense of community. This was one of two key benefits to obtaining a Masters degree from MBS, according to Alforque, the second being ‘the incredible lifelong friends you make along the way’.

“But what really sparked my interest in this area was the subject, Brand Management, taught by Associate Professor Anish Nagpal,” she recalls fondly. “His expert knowledge in all aspects of brand management and consistent use of real-world case studies really gave me an accurate insight into what I could achieve.”

After MBS

Graduation has not meant the end of her days with MBS. Alforque is President of the Young Alumni Committee (YAC), and enjoys staying in touch with both alumni and current students. Annually, the YAC runs a number of key events, and plays an active role in breeding stronger relationships between current students and alumni – something that Alforque believes is important on a number of levels.

“There's so much value in staying in touch with the Faculty and current students,” she offers. “Being part of the Young Alumni network can help you continue learning after graduation, by attending events such as the inaugural Business and Economics Dean's Event in Melbourne (held in October 2017), where three of the Faculty’s leading academics updated alumni on their fascinating research into human and machine judgement, creating the next generation of indigenous business leaders and ensuring that every dollar generated through philanthropy has the greatest impact.”

“You also learn when you meet new people at networking events like the Business Leadership Roundtable Breakfast by listening to the career stories from our distinguished alumni, or attending the various public lectures throughout the year on special-interest topics.

“Students and alumni are also welcomed at social events like the Young Alumni Ball, which sees graduating (BCom and MBS) students and alumni come together at an amazing black-tie event,” Alforque reminds us. “Hosted by the Young Alumni Committee, this is the flagship event on the Young Alumni program calendar and this year’s Ball saw over 350 young alumni in attendance – our biggest Ball ever!”

On a more personal level, Alforque says she has enjoyed giving back to the school that has helped develop her.

From left to right: Fiona Cheung, Sunny Chow, Coral Lou, Aditya Chibber, Melanie Alforque, Kartik Iyer, Laura Fernandez, Richard Cole.

“I had an awesome MBS experience and was fortunate enough to receive a few scholarships and grants to support my studies thanks to the generous donations of our broader alumni network,” Alforque shares. “Personally, I think it’s important to give back, and I enjoy mentoring students with an interest in Marketing so they can broaden their own awareness of the diverse career opportunities within this field.”

In keeping with the theme of giving back, we asked Alforque to share her top tips for future and current students:

  • Pick your degree and subjects based on an industry or type of work you are most passionate about. A good way to find out more about what and how you learn is by speaking to alumni at various networking events, and also by attending information sessions and webinars
  • Seek every opportunity to put the knowledge you’ve absorbed in the classroom into practice: ask your lecturers lots of questions, join some student clubs, participate in case competitions with your mates, apply for the Global or Melbourne Business Practicum, or even go on exchange.
  • For those interested in brand management, read How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don't Know, by Byron Sharp; a number of FMCG companies have based their principles for brand growth on the Laws of Growth model referenced in the book. (It’s available at the UniMelb library, in case you’re wondering!)
  • Finally, if you are truly interested in developing a career in marketing, look into internship or vacationer programs, or even part-time roles, in marketing, to help broaden your experience.

The beauty of studying at MBS is that you have so many learning opportunities (along with access to several cafes within a 1-2km radius of The Spot) at your disposal, so make the most of your entire Melbourne experience! Melanie Alforque

Want to learn more?

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