Megan Harrison, St Pierre: Innovating through experience – Transcript

0:00:12 – Intro 

Welcome to Genuine Humans, exploring the stories behind the great marketing leaders of our time and hearing how their journeys have influenced the brands they’ve built. Brought to you by the social element, here are our hosts: Tamara Littleton, CEO and founder, and Wendy Christie, Chief People Officer.  

0:00:46 – Tamara Littleton 

Welcome back to Genuine Humans podcast, and again, as always, Wendy Christie is my fabulous co-host. Hello Wendy, how are you doing?  

0:00:54 – Wendy Christie 

Hello, good, thank you. Yes, it’s been blowing a hoolie out here, but hopefully, things will settle soon. How are you?  

0:01:01 – Tamara Littleton 

Of course, because up in Scotland, well, I know we were all on alert for storms. But it was pretty bad for you, wasn’t it?  

0:01:07 – Wendy Christie 

Yeah, it was a wild night, and not in a good way.  

0:01:10 – Tamara Littleton 

Okay, but you’re safe, absolutely fine and hopefully not suffering from any broken windows or anything. But we have today, Megan Harrison, the VP of Global Marketing at St Pierre, which is part of Grupo Bimbo. And, Megan, welcome to the podcast. 

0:01:17 – Megan Harrison 

Thank you. 

0:01:18 – Tamara Littleton 

And we’re going to hear a bit more about what you’ve been up to. But also, I know that you’ve had an amazing career up to date, and you’ve led the development of really iconic household brands such as Huggies, Durex, Warburtons and Imperial Leather, just to name a few. So, I want to give you the opportunity to sort of give us a little breakdown of how you’ve got to where you are now and also what you’re doing at St Pierre.  

0:01:55 – Megan Harrison 

Yes, well, good morning and thank you so much for having me today and I’m really looking forward to chatting to you both around all of these topics that we share, actually, overall, some key things. 

So, I guess for me, you know, I think my career always started and has continued, thankfully, and been structured really around what I enjoy, and I’m still, to this day, can say I’m so lucky to enjoy working and enjoy my career, and I think that’s always been quite a big deal that I did with myself from the beginning.  

So, I think right from the beginning, without knowing that, I really sort of followed my interests, and, interestingly, right at the beginning, they did fall into two quite different, distinct camps. I had a real passion for textiles and yet also real curiosity and passion for science and probably some of the unknown of that, I think, and so I really shaped kind of my GCSE selections and my A-level selections around those two things.  

But, eventually, I ended up then doing a science degree, and that was really because I thought in the end I could probably get back to creativity even if I did a science degree, but it would be pretty, quite difficult to get back to science if I chose the creativity route, and I guess that not only echoes what I said about just really wanting to enjoy whatever I was doing, but it actually then starts to form the very early stages of my career.  

Because the first graduate job I then took was with a company called Smith & Nephew that I’m sure everybody knows, and at that point, they had a consumer product arm and the reason why I took that job and got it was not only Smith & Nephew being a great business with a very good, credible graduate scheme, but actually, I was working on the Lil-Lets brand of sanitary protection, and at that point, I took that job as a product developer, and you can already see there for the combination of fibres and absorbency, but science very much playing through that, and actually I always find that interesting that there was a job out there that somehow could combine those, those random interests, albeit in sanitary protection.  

And so, I guess that was sort of my first foray into consumer, into a consumer business and little did I know at that point just how intrigued and curious I would become about the consumer and the psychology of the consumer and how that then drives businesses and brands, which has really sort of continued throughout my career. And that very, very fortunate stumble, first, let’s say, into FMCG really was just the most fantastic eye-opener, and I have never left FMCG since, knowing how much really over time I’ve really, really enjoyed and used around the, learning more and more about the consumer.  

So, from there then, I actually went to work for Kimberly Clark and still, at this point in product development, I started working on the Huggies brand, and again, you can see the theme there of absorbency and fibres.  

But very quickly, actually, I flipped into marketing, and that was my first real sort of opportunity in marketing and Kimberly Clark are still a fantastic business, very, very values orientated, fantastic leadership capabilities but also focus and this fantastic brand in Huggies, and that was a European role and really where I cut my teeth, I guess, in marketing at a classical level it’s very classically trained, very, very lucky. But that role as well, looking after four European markets and, I think, learning how to attack a very, very big, leading brand in P&G’s Pampers. But we were a very clear number two to Pampers in the European markets, and I think that gives you a really, really laser, sharp focus on what you have to do and some pace around doing that. And of course, they really are the masters of branding and consumer-led businesses as well.  

0:05:55 – Tamara Littleton 

That must be fun being number two, though, because it’s kind of like you can see them in your sights a little bit more sort of worrying for them in many ways, because you’re sort of, like, you know, really snapping at their heels.  

0:06:05 – Megan Harrison 

Yeah, I think it’s really uniting and gives businesses and brands great focus, and more of that in a little while, because actually that got even stronger when I started working on a challenger brand, where really your number one goal is to start exposing and challenging the leaders in the category. And that is fun, as you say, but also hugely uniting, if not slightly exhausting. But I think it really, really does refocus the lens on what you have to do, and, yeah, I think it’s a great thing to be able to rally around as well as an organisation  

0:06:29 – Tamara Littleton 


0:06:30 – Megan Harrison 

So from there, I then moved into a smaller business, and I remember thinking at that time, and this is a fairly common theme, I think, around my career as well, that I love those big businesses, loved really understanding and learning what FMCG was about, what the consumers were about, what brands were about, how we took those brands to market. But I remember distinctly thinking these big businesses are so big that actually to move and have impact and drive that performance is quite slow actually, and really wanting to get some more medium-sized businesses at that point, or something slightly smaller at the very least. And then I went to work on the Durex brand. By this point, certainly, my husband really is saying to me this is slightly getting embarrassing. Do you think you could work on any brands above the belt and perhaps slightly less embarrassing to talk about?  

But again, I guess this was classical personal care FMCG, and this was a really interesting role because it was a global role, and my remit really was very much about how do we use all that equity around our core business of condoms and actually start really expanding all that brand strength into the broader sexual wellbeing arena and of course, what comes with that is growth and innovation and expansion.  

And that was a fascinating role but also a fantastic extension of my European roles into global this time, and I’m really far-reaching across the world, from China to the US to Asia to Europe again and lots of different business situations across those.  

But really getting to the bottom of the consumer there and really what is motivating the consumer and trying to form some common global ground around that when you have some really very, very distinct and different cultures, levels of acceptance, levels of in some areas, you know, sexual wellbeing was a very taboo subject, so really sort of getting under the skin of that and forming a brand opportunity around it was really, really key. 

And another really, really big thing then really started me forming this much more transformational element to my career was that at that point, this was a very, very sales-driven organisation in high growth, and there was a real remit as well around getting more of that consumer and brand focus and really uniting more of a strategic consumer brand lens around what we were doing, and that was hugely, hugely interesting but really, really quite challenging because particularly on that topic, you can imagine how people would just sort of you know, the supply network is so wayward anyway and I think you know to drive sales there was a lot of sort of bartering around the back that was going on, so, um, that were making the business successful, so it was quite a tough one to start drawing that back to a consumer and brand strategy.  

However, I think this was one of my favourite places to work. It was an absolute joy, wonderful people to work with I can still remember the belly laughs either on the topic or with absolutely fun people working, such a diverse culture, and that business was so successful that it was actually acquired by Reckitt Benckiser, and so I did the latter part of my time there with Reckitt Benckiser, which is also a phenomenal experience, a very, very different culture, but also a great sort of insight into acquisition and bringing our brand into the fold of a very, very big and successful blue chip FMCG. So really, really interesting time there.  

0:10:16 – Tamara Littleton 

I can imagine, sorry, sorry to sort of jump in, but I’m just I’m just trying to sort of think about that time before it was bought, because there was a real use of humour. I mean that that’s sort of the time you know that you were building that brand, all those challenges that you say about across different countries and different approaches to the, to the products. But I do remember as a brand that there was a lot of humour and brand-building at that time. So, yeah, that really came across.  

0:10:40 – Megan Harrison 

Yeah, and I think, you know, getting that humour right was always quite important, you know, really, and also getting that culturally right was really, really quite important as well. And you know, we did finally move that communications platform on to be able to sort of encompass all of those different things but, as you say, a great topic, to be able to drive lots of humour and lots of tongue-in-cheek interpretations of the brand and take it to places and actually really normalize it as well. I think it was a huge job of the brand at the time, particularly where that topic can be quite taboo depending on, you know, which markets you’re talking in, so it cuts, it can cut through that as well have used really, really well. 

And so from there, I then did actually make the move into food and drink, finally did get to the other side of FMCG, and I then took a job with Warburtons, and this was a really, really interesting but different challenge to anything else really I’ve ever done, and the biggest reason for that was this is a privately owned business, the shareholders actively working in the business every day. It’s a phenomenal group of people again, and a very values-led business again, and I think it’s fair to say, fairly operational and sales-led, but with this huge passion for the brand because of the course the brand is the name of the family and that brings a really, really different dynamic to the way that you might either brand build or start really driving the consumer slightly more strongly in that, in that environment. And the other really interesting thing there is there are no, it’s not PLC, of course, so the long-term view is so prevailing, and I think also this real subtlety around the influencing network. How does that work? And you know, without that, the PLC shareholder to serve every quarter, that really does bring about very different ways of working that you really have to get used to, especially if you’re going to try and start influencing those agendas.  


So really, really great business, phenomenally successful, huge in the UK, but a significant their point there that this was a UK-only business and a real shift again from European and global then into UK only and really sort of getting under the skin of that P&L and driving the performance purely in that market. So, a really great experience. Absolutely loved the brand and loved love working in that business as well, 


And from there then, I flipped actually into one of their competitors, and I took on and a really new challenge in Robert’s Bakery, and they had got to a point where they were they really wanted to do something different with their business. They, you know, a lot of the baking industry is quite traditional, and I think, you know, as fourth in the market, you have a real choice about whether you are going to do the same as everybody else or really think differently.  


And that was really the brief that was given to me is that we wanted to really treat that brand as a challenger brand and really relaunch as a challenger brand, and, as I said earlier, I think that is almost like you almost unlearn and reteach yourself everything that you’ve ever learned about marketing, working on a challenger brand. 

0:13: 52 

So, with all that great experience, you have to sort of reprogram yourself and reset yourself again to acutely focus on attack all the time, attack and exposing the leaders in the category. And you have got to really bring creativity to the role every single day into how are you going to think differently, start to be more bold, actually take a lot more risk every day in what you’re doing, just to cut through and be able to command essentially greater share of voice than anybody else in the category through your actions.  


And obviously, that is the spirit, as we know, of a challenger brand, and I think what was so energizing and uniting around that again was that we were able to develop the business mission around that, unite a workforce around it. And then essentially also, I think what’s really interesting about challenger brand is you can start to use that to drive the way that you operate each day in the office, and some phenomenal books been written about that which we really turn to in those times.  

And fantastic experience.  


And I really do think, having run a challenger brand, you apply that again every day, whether you’re running leading brands or follower brands because those principles never leave you. And actually, the most valuable thing actually is then applying those challenger brand principles to a leading brand, because the whole risk of running a leading brand is that you fall into the trap of complacency, and if you’ve run a challenger brand, you never take that for granted again and you’re always trying to work out ways to prod and get that airtime for yourself. So, another fantastic experience.  

0:15:30 – Tamara Littleton 

That’s such an interesting thing to have, just kind of like constantly being challenger mode. That’s a real sort of penny drop moment for me as well, actually, because yeah, I can imagine that, as you say, complacency is that sort of threat for the big brand. So that’s just part of your DNA now.  

0:15:46 – Megan Harrison 

Exactly, I think it really is, and you have to work quite hard to keep it afterwards, I think because you know, but really starting to think about differently, about what you’re doing, the use of PR, the use of how that works with social and digital. You know, budgets are a lot tighter, so you’ve got to be really creative with what you have. But it is exhausting because, as you rightly acknowledge, every day that’s your goal, and it’s, and you’ve got to roll your sleeves up and really get stuck in. So, it’s, yeah, it’s a fantastically grounding experience as well, but I think, also one that will never leave me.  

And from there then, I went back to personal care in FMCG again, so took a role with PZ Cussons, who were on a hugely transformational journey that they were very public about wanting to start to reinvigorate the business around a consumer and brand-led agenda, and I was looking after the UK brands of Carex, imperial Leather and Original Source as well.  

So that was a phenomenally all-encompassing journey the whole organisation were on. But, obviously, lots of work for the marketers is to do, and again, I think the really, you know, some really iconic brands in there, as you already mentioned tomorrow Imperial Leather how you treat that quite carefully is really, really key. And we did eventually manage to relaunch Imperial Leather back to its imperial roots after years of sort of, I suppose you know it kind of being slightly neglected, which is a great, great achievement.  

And that really leads me then back to where I am today.  

So, I then took a role back in bakery, which is very surprising for myself, but this was an absolute gem of an opportunity. You already intro’d so well, Tamara, knowing a little bit about our business.  

But we have this wonderfully stylish premium French bakery brand in St Pierre that has been built and grown phenomenally in the last five years to achieve such success that it attracted the attention of Grupo Bimbo, and they acquired the St Pierre brand about a year and a quarter ago, and this to me provides the backdrop of a really, really interesting future for the brand.  

Very successful already in two markets, the UK and the US, but with Grupo Bimbo’s phenomenal operational presence around the world, we have this real opportunity to grow this brand globally to a phenomenal level over the next five years. So, a really great opportunity. Part of that is driving the integration post-acquisition as well, and again I look back to my Durex Reckitt days as some of the reference there, but also, of course, a lot of work to be done in really driving that consumer brand approach again, and I think because the business has grown so entrepreneurially through distribution and done such a great job of that, of course, we are now in a really great position to be able to start really driving that consumer agenda harder as well.  

0:18:50 – Tamara Littleton 

I love it. All paths led to here.  

0:18:53 – Wendy Christie 

Yeah, it’s really interesting actually to hear that summary of your whole career, and there really seem to be some clear common threads running through it. You talked about a lot of science and how you seem to thrive being in those challenger brand positions, and I’ve been really interested to go back a little bit and see how much of that you think started when you were a child. So, let’s start fairly broadly and just talk about what you were like as a child.  

0:19:24 – Megan Harrison 

Yeah, I mean, it’s really funny. I guess I was. I was sport-obsessed from the beginning and played a lot of sports, and I think that’s influenced really by my dad, who was a fantastic sportsman and just sort of turn my hand to anything and absolutely loved it, always talkative. That still remains today. I’m sure people would still describe me as talkative, energetic and actually a little bit rebellious, and I think that’s really, really, you know, echoes lots of all of the roles I’ve taken. I mean, I do remember pushing the boundaries, but equally, I didn’t really cause my parents any real problems either. But I know today that still exists. I do enjoy sort of a challenge. I do enjoy just pushing the envelope a little bit, and also that comes with creativity. I think that thinking out of the box, differently solving problems, I think is all very much grounded in that Definitely and when you were little.  

0:20:20 – Wendy Christie 

Did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?  

0:20:23 – Megan Harrison 

I mean I really didn’t, but again, I think through talking with you guys, it’s quite interesting, and, the two things I remember thinking very young were either like to be a fashion designer or an astronaut, neither of which have come true, of course. But again, if you look at both of those, one has a real flavour of creativity in it. I was never a good enough artist to have done that, but the other one is, and the astronaut, is about that exploration and actually very, very science-based, even though I wasn’t thinking like that at the time. And I wonder if they were echoes of some of that thread, of those things I enjoyed that I talked about right at the beginning.  

0:20:59 – Wendy Christie 

Maybe! When you were little, did you have particular people that you looked up to, whether they were in the public eye or people that you knew?  

0:21:06 – Megan Harrison 

Yeah, I mean, I think for sure, my parents, my mum ran her own business.  

She was a fantastic role model, but my dad also not only was a fantastic sportsman but also supported my mum’s career and her ambitions and then therefore made it perfect, acceptable for two careers to exist in the household. And I think what that led me to probably is like they never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t have a career, never crossed my mind that I wouldn’t have a stimulating job or go and be able to do what anybody else can do. And I think always as a child, probably your role models do end up being the family. I mean my siblings, of course, as well, got two siblings. We were very, very happy and very lucky to be in that situation, but it was always quite keen to know that they approved to, I guess, especially when you’re younger. And then, of course, there are the usual pop stars and sports stars. I do remember, like probably Madonna and Andre Agassi coming into that, you know, half wanting to be a sports star as well. 

0:22:19 – Wendy Christie 

And how about as you’ve developed into an adult, and you’ve got your career? Have there been particular genuine humans who’ve influenced you along the way or given you that extra bit of support that you’d like to acknowledge?  

0:22:24 – Megan Harrison 

Yeah, I think there are three people who really stick out for me, and there is a common thread in them, but they are all really, really different.  

First was one of my leaders at Kimberley Clark, a guy called Mark Patterson who was our departmental head, and you know I’ve already referenced Kimberley Clark is a very, very high-value business, a really, really great business with some very, very good people working in it. But I think what he really showed me was true leadership, even at that very early stage. That was a great role model actually for how leaders should and can behave. I think really he was values-led, he set high standards, but he was genuine, he was human, he was principled. Where he didn’t really agree but knew that it would be better to engage us in a different way, he would find a way around perhaps some of those difficult things in organisations that become quite restrictive, and I love not only his creativity but I think also the way that he managed that without getting himself in trouble and I thought what a very smart person and a great example.  

My second would be a lady called Sue Yell, and I met her at Warburtons, and she is still the HR director at Warburtons and a phenomenal influence actually to me personally and in my career. I think really the reason for that is she is a very, very smart lady who has had to learn and work within very male-dominated environments throughout her career. But what I love about Sue and her leadership is that she has never used that as a negative. She has only thought about really what women can bring to the leadership mix. So, as a real positive, we might bring different things, and we can influence in a really different way with a very different style, and actually, we can balance some of those more difficult topics and the way that they’re approached through a very different approach and so actually utilising the strength of the skill set versus sort of being intimidated by that or in any way apologetic was something that I really, really thought was just the most fantastic learning curve.  

She’s very, very influential in women in leadership, and I think she also set up a fantastic forum in the business for that. She had the most fantastic speakers and all of those contributed very much to kind of my own principles around how to lead but also support others in their development and in reaching their true potential along their own journeys as well.  

And the third would be an extremely kind and human gentleman called Andrew Gagan. I met him only fairly recently, really in the last three or four years, and has been such a great influence again in my career and my own personal development. He again is so human, generous, kind, but super smart, and what I love about him and what he’s shown me again is that you can still behave with absolute integrity, even right at the top and as you wish to, and to me again that’s a huge value that really, really matters and, I think, again, great example that I will carry forward as I continue on my path.  

0:25:58 – Tamara Littleton 

Thank you, and actually, I’m going to sort of bring us back up to date, although I’m also thinking, just based on what you were saying, that I feel like there needs to be a St Pierre-NASA tie-up there somewhere. This is how you can bring two of your worlds together. It can still happen, absolutely.  

0:26:14 – Megan Harrison 

Let’s send some buns to space.  

0:26:17 – Tamara Littleton 

There you go, so I do want to go back to you talked about your transformational roles, and your passion really comes through when you’re talking about this. Can you just delve into a little bit more about why you think that really drives you?  

0:26:33 – Megan Harrison 

Yeah, I mean, I think the idea of change and impact has always floated my boat, and I remember, as I said in my early career, thinking I need to get some small businesses here because you’re so lost in this massive juggernaut and actually I really want to drive more action and I had a lot more energy I felt to give to driving performance than sometimes I could do in those really really big businesses really early on anyway, and I think that reflects overall my energy and drive.  

There can be a great thing that. It also has some downsides, of course, but I think that energy and drive are coupled with my curiosity about the consumer and what makes them tick and really my huge belief that that will drive sustainable business growth, in the end, is probably why I’ve ended up always exploring those slightly more challenging transformational roles, and I think you know to do those you do have to have some of that thirst of wanting to go and lift up the rocks and find out because it does take quite a lot of effort and energy and you do need to be pretty tenacious and determined and I think they I can luckily count within my strengths as well and relishing that challenge again, although all of those have you know, have lots of disadvantages as well,  

0:27:51 – Tamara Littleton 

And obviously, when you’re leading through this sort of change, there is a lot about your approach and perhaps supporting future leaders coming through as well. What is your approach to supporting the future leaders in the business?  

0:28:12 – Megan Harrison 

Yeah, I mean, that’s really interesting, particularly in your own transformational circumstances, because often either all of the tools are not in place to support people’s development or also it’s pretty frenetic, so sometimes you know, finding the right amount of brain space and time to really support individuals.  

Obviously, lots of times in transformational roles, the organisation is disengaged and slightly disgruntled as well. So trying to really not only spot talent but also provide the right environment for development in the backdrop of that can be actually quite challenging. I think the key things are to be pragmatic, in my view, in those situations, because the one thing that you really really need on that transformational journey is fantastic people with great talent, but also with great will and those who really want to go on that journey. You really do need to invest the time to develop and support and keep them engaged in that transformational journey. And I think that point around pragmatism comes when you start to just think, okay, the world isn’t perfect, but there are many, many tools now in my toolbox, helped by all of those roles that I’ve done actually, lots of those I still use from years ago, that actually means we can get started, and lots of times I think people need some sort of framework of development. It’s really hard to say. “So what would you like to do?” and “What do you think you need to do?” without any information structure or any tools. So, even if I’m using tools from three different businesses and rehashing them, I think it’s good to just get people started, get people focused, and actually, I think there are very many small things that you can be doing for development that don’t cost the earth, and I think obviously we all know people get fixated very much on training and investment in them, but actually there’s so much on the job that can be done.  

There’s so much in terms of mentorship and coaching and also just giving people different opportunities and stretching them into areas that actually will develop them in the areas that they are interested in as they go.  

And I think that’s the brilliant thing about transformational businesses; actually, those opportunities do exist. It’s not a sort of a kind of staid, boring place where we’re gradually growing. It’s everything is going on, and if you really, really want to develop, I do believe that that is one of the best environments that you could be in because you’re doing everything, you’re rolling your sleeves up, and so that’s something I’m always looking for is enough will, but actually, you can do an awful lot with will for people who want to learn and develop. And I think the last thing that is really interesting is inviting people to really lead that development journey themselves.  

Because I think what sometimes comes with a disgruntled and a difficult organisational backdrop that is in the midst of change, which is very, very challenging for individuals and groups of people, is this sense that you know almost what’s the organisation doing for me and, I think, really trying to change that mindset to say we are here to support whatever it is you’d like to do with your career and how you would like to develop, but the impetus for that must come from the individual with the support of the organisation, of me, of everybody around to try to make that happen. And I think that’s quite a big mindset shift in the middle of that very difficult situation of change and everything moving in insecurity as well about the future.  

0:31:44 – Tamara Littleton 

Yeah, it’s that helping people grow by allowing them to take risks in a safe environment as well, isn’t it and to do that? And yeah, I can really see that.  

0:31:54 – Megan Harrison 


0:31:55 – Tamara Littleton 

And I know also one of the themes that’s come through is your passion about putting the consumer at the heart of the brand and then building the organisation around that. Is that easier said than done?  

0:32:08 – Megan Harrison 

It really is absolutely easier said than done. I think so many things go into the mix here about whether that is actually achievable and it can be successful. And I think you know so much of change is about understanding the organisation around you, you know. Are they really up for it, no matter what’s been actually communicated, how hard should you drive? Do you have the right sponsors who might not want to support this change? There are lots of people who will find that uncomfortable or maybe don’t understand it or can perceive a power shift they don’t like, which I think isn’t relevant. But these are human feelings around what happens when change moves, and, obviously, if you’re trying to drive that change towards a consumer and a brand agenda, then that becomes quite tricky at times within organisations.  

But I think this all has to be balanced with driving some progress. If that’s the brief you’ve been given, then as much as you’re trying to observe those sensitivities in an organisation and piece together all of that mix, you also have to drive some progress. And I think there’s a constant calibration of that going on in terms of how hard to push and how to manage that pace to drive the change versus, at the same time, being sensitive to the organisation and how fast it wants to move, but actually, perhaps more importantly, whether the organisation is truly up for it. And I think that’s really, really interesting because it’s very clear everybody understands that’s the right thing to do, but actually what that requires, I think sometimes, is underestimated.  

The scale of change in an organisation is so huge to drive, to drive that, that focus, and I think you know it starts with the people even understand what we’re trying to do, how, how we need to try and do that.  

But, actually, everything that goes with that as well, and a huge, a huge point around that, is investment. You know, if you really want to drive that, you need to invest in that front end so heavily. And I think what really becomes the telling point is when those big challenging decisions come up around either investment or around really making the decisions that do kind of put the consumer brand right at the forefront, and when those don’t happen, I think that becomes quite an interesting point. Again, you have to listen to think, right, ok, we’re not there yet. And again, that constant recalibration, calibration again, has to continue to go on. So, I do think it’s totally possible. I’ve definitely been in organisations where it’s absolutely possible. But I think you know you do need that sort of complete alignment, and staying strong when the time gets tough to the agenda is really, really key as well.  

0:34:56 – Tamara Littleton 

Definitely. And back to you. What’s exciting, you personally, either in your role or generally in the industry?  

0:35:04 – Megan Harrison 

Well, I mean, in my role, I think the sky is the limit with the brand I have. I’m so very, very lucky. I have a premium brand, as I mentioned, in a very difficult FMCG environment, and you know that that is really truly a gift, as well as a brand that is in such high demand from the consumer, and those things are such a phenomenal platform if you like to build from. So that is so exciting. Also, the you know, the possibilities of the brand and the Sampierre brand and where we can take that, I think, is just hugely, hugely exciting as well. So those that from the here and now, I think from an industry perspective, the role of AI and its endless possibilities, particularly creatively, is so exciting, and I think, particularly for me in the in the area of efficiency and effectiveness, because the possibilities of how AI will play a role in creative to me is just a huge fast forward in terms of how we can drive you know a lot of those, those brilliant returns, but in a much speedier, more efficient way.  

And, of course, what goes with that is a lot of unknown, and I can really see, you know, I don’t. I definitely, you know, I’m only scratching sort of at the surface of what AI can offer. In my experience and knowledge so far in that territory and I think, you know, some people can find that a little bit disconcerting. For me, that’s positive; I think I you know, and it goes probably back to lots of things I’ve told you about myself. Today I’m intrigued and curious to know about what this can bring us. But on the whole, I think we need to embrace it with a really positive mindset because the possibilities, I do think will be endless.  

0:36:50 – Tamara Littleton 

I wouldn’t expect anything less from you as a disruptor.  

0:36:54 – Wendy Christie 

So, we’re going to move on to the final section of the podcast now, where we get a bit more personal and move away a little from the world of work. So let’s start with what’s your idea of a perfect weekend?  

0:37:06 – Megan Harrison 

Yeah, I mean a perfect weekend for me. It’s pretty easy, really. It’s somewhere hot, easy to reach, quick couple of hours, a bit of culture, very good food, lovely drinks and yeah, I’m in heaven. That’s pretty much it. If we have to do that in the winter, if you put a restriction on it would probably be. You know, somewhere like the Lake District, love the outdoors and then love getting into a cosy pub. At the end of all of that, either of those float my boat. Very, very happy with either. Those options at the weekend sounds fantastic and there’s no restrictions whatsoever.  

0:37:42 – Wendy Christie 

And on the theme of no restrictions, and coming back to your love of science, maybe if you could time travel to any period with no consequence, where and when would you go?  

0:37:52 – Megan Harrison 

Yeah, I mean, there’s a couple that spring to mind. The second one definitely springs to mind, which sounds a bit morbid, but I think it was also a huge time of a united front. I think, you know, the camaraderie would be something I’d just loved to have experienced, but probably in the end, I settled on the Tudor Times. I only want to go there for a week, just to be clear. I really don’t want to live in those times. Oh, my goodness, the grottiness and the, oh, just the brutality. Just it’s not something I’d particularly want to experience, but I do find those times exceptionally fascinating in really the influence of a lot of, you know, what we experienced today and very much just would have, would have liked to have just seen a little snapshot of that, See what it was really like.  

0:38:38 – Tamara Littleton 

Definitely, what’s the last thing you did that gave you childlike joy?  

0:38:42 – Megan Harrison 

Yeah, I mean, this is fairly easy for me. It’s, it’s, you know, I think it’s. It’s pretty much singing and dancing to anything. But I think the number one song if I, if I want to go there is probably Whitney Houston’s Higher Love with Kaigo. Something in that song does something to my brain, and if I just get that on really loud, I could dance on the kitchen and just lose myself in that for a good five minutes.  

0:39:07 – Tamara Littleton 

Fantastic. So basically, you’re saying kitchen disco brings you childlike joy Absolutely. Exactly One of my favorite questions, and Wendy and I are always kind of arguing who’s, well we’re negotiating over who’s going to ask this one. How would you fare in a zombie apocalypse?  

0:39:25 – Megan Harrison 

Oh yes, now I mean this one. I think I just wouldn’t is my answer. I just need humans, I need the variety and spontaneity of human beings, and that doesn’t sound like a place I could get. So I think I might just quietly sort of sleek off, slink off into the dark shadows and let everybody else get on with it.  

0:39:48 – Tamara Littleton 

I don’t know. I argue that you would rebrand the apocalypse and, be you know, completely disrupt the whole environment instead, possibly.  

0:39:58 – Wendy Christie 

How would your friends?  

0:39:59 – Megan Harrison 

describe you, I mean definitely loud, fun, kind, though. I think we’re up for it and pretty much always ready to party with a bit of persuasion.  

0:40:15 – Tamara Littleton 

I love that and actually on the sort of the party and the food, but what’s your favourite restaurant or food experience?  

0:40:22 – Megan Harrison 

Yeah, this one is so hard because there are just so many great places aren’t there and so many different kinds of cuisines to choose from. But I think probably you know I’ve gone for Tom Kerridge’s Hand and Flowers. We went there for a real treat a weekend once, and I think what I love about that is it’s so down to earth, and it’s so it’s just proper food but such beautiful food, and so it kind of combines for me everything I love about food, and it’s high quality, it’s so perfectly prepared, and it’s very, very it’s absolutely delicious, but it is pretty grounded. It’s still a pub and that probably is my ideal idea of where to spend some time.  

0:41:13 – Tamara Littleton 

Sounds lovely. Now I think I’m going to guess the answer to this one because you sort of spoken about your love of dancing around the kitchen and singing, but do you like karaoke as well, and if so, what is your go-to song?  

0:41:26 – Megan Harrison 

Yeah, I’ll always be persuaded, worryingly. I mean, I wouldn’t necessarily go and do that as a book at in for every Saturday night, but absolutely as part of the party vibe. I’ll be there right at the front. I think this one has to be dictated by what I can actually sing, and the only thing I can truly sing without not murdering is Carly Simons. You’re so Vain, and that’s really because it’s a slightly lower. Basically, I can manage it with my slightly lower voice, which is really bad at the moment because I’ve had this awful cough and cold. But yeah, anything too high I just can’t manage. So I just have to opt for anything that’s within my range, and that seems to be it, or duets, you see, there’s always a place Anything else.  

0:42:14 – Tamara Littleton 

Take the lead and just do the whole thing. This is what I do with Wendy, you see. So Wendy is the soprano, and I do the lower ones. Excellent, Megan; it’s been such a joy to have you on the podcast. I’ve been wanting to have you as a guest for such a long time. Is there anything that we didn’t cover that you’d like to talk about, or any closing thoughts from you?  

0:42:34 – Megan Harrison 

No, I don’t think. Anything for me that we didn’t cover has been pretty extensive, but mainly for me, just thank you so much for having me. It’s been a really interesting journey for me back through my life actually, so a really enjoyable hour, and thank you very much for having me.  

0:42:58 – Intro 

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