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Drawing on her extensive experience, Grainne will reflect on the defining moments that have helped shape her impressive career and offer insight on some of the biggest challenges currently facing the industry, how her time at Ulster plays into her career now, and why stimulating innovation is important to the future success of the food sector.

About Gráinne Allen

Gráinne has been described as “one of the top 10 food product developers in the country”.

After completing her Honours Degree at the Ulster University she joined Marks and Spencer who had sponsored her in her final year following her successful industrial placement with them.  Whilst working there, she was one of the leading lights for innovations such as Healthy Choice (now branded ‘Count on Us’), Ultra Fresh, and many directional product ranges such as American, Bistro and Connoisseur.

Gráinne left Marks and Spencer to build on her, now formidable, reputation and to broaden her skill base into the supply and manufacturing side of the food industry.  She joined forces with her husband in their company Rainmaker Innovation to supply top-flight consultancy advice and specific expertise to a blue-chip client base. 30+ years in the food industry, Gráinne has a unique level of experience across a broad spectrum which includes chilled, frozen, produce, and ambient foods including gifting and has run many multi-million pound product strategies in retail, manufacturing, food service and brand.

Gráinne’s work is firmly based on her unparalleled breadth and depth of knowledge in all aspects of the Food Industry particularly in the fields of innovation, strategy, best practice, and change management for business such as Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury's and Whitbread.

Gráinne is Visiting Professor at the Ulster University Business School where she is determined to encourage and support the young people who will be the innovators of tomorrow.  She takes an active role in the final year Food Innovation Module, working directly with industry to set up live projects for the students, securing funding for these projects and any benefits that can be afforded the students including graduate placements, valuable experience and references.

As Director of Food and Innovation at McDonald’s, Gráinne is leading innovation and menu direction across a number of strategic projects and categories.  Gráinne is a current fellow of the London & Partners Open Innovation Fellowship in partnership with RCA, focusing on innovation landscapes, mind-sets, networks and ecosystems.

Delivered by Ulster University Business School in partnership with the Development and Alumni Relations Office, this event will take place online via Zoom  on 19th May 2022 at 4pm BST.

Event info

This event has ended

Thursday 19 May

4pm to 5pm


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