Caroline McKeown, MSc Insights & Innovation student, on placement with Arthur Mallon Foods
MSc Insights and Innovation student Caroline McKeown gives us an overview of her placement with Arthur Mallon Foods, the leading producer of sausages in Ireland, which originated from Arthur Mallon’s Butchers shop in Monaghan Town. Nowadays the third generation of craft butchers, Mallon’s is still a family owned business, having won over 160 awards both nationally and internationally, making the company the most awarded sausage maker in Ireland.
“My name is Caroline McKeown, and I am currently on the MSc Insights and Innovation programme. Sadly, I am in the last month of my DCU MSc journey. I’ve really enjoyed the fact that this course contains both a theoretical element but also a practical component through our placement. This gave us the chance to implement what we had learnt in class in a real-life food company.
I worked with Arthur Mallon Foods in Co. Monaghan as a Consumer Insights specialist. My role entailed keeping the in-house team (NPD and Marketing) up to date with different trends and insights applicable to the different projects I was working on. I then translated those trends and insights into tangible concepts by conducting market and consumer assessments. I produced an informative newsletter to update the NPD team on exciting new trends and product releases on a fortnightly basis.
During my time on the programme, I really enjoyed my Design Thinking module which was led by Dr. Peter Robbins. Design thinking is a tangible human centric framework that businesses can use to solve problems and involve the consumer in the innovation process. I introduced this framework to my client company, and I really felt it successfully gave us a structured process to engage the consumer in all aspects. The framework consists of five stages.
Stage 1: Empathise – Research your consumers needs
At this stage you should gain an empathetic understanding of the problem you’re trying to solve, typically through user research.
Stage 2: Define – State Your Users’ Needs and Problems
Next you analyse your observations and synthesize them to define the core problems you and your team have identified. These definitions are called problem statements.
Stage 3: Ideate – Challenge Assumptions and Create Ideas
At this stage you’re ready to generate ideas as you have gained sufficient knowledge from the previous two stages. This knowledge allows you to look for alternative ways to view the problem and identify innovative solutions to the problem statement. Brainstorming with the team is a good way to do this.
Stage 4: Prototype – Start to Create Solutions
At this stage the team produce some inexpensive, scaled-down versions of the product to investigate the ideas you’ve generated.
Stage 5: Test – Try Your Solutions Out
This stage goes hand in hand with Stage 4 as the prototypes are then tested with consumers. Design Thinking is iterative, so the teams often use the results to redefine the problem.
Description of a DT process (source Stanford d.School, 2022)
I am enjoying working on my dissertation currently which is due at the end of March. I was placed in a family business for my placement, so I thought it was essential to utilise this unique positioning for my dissertation. Therefore, I decided to do a case-based study on Arthur Mallon Foods and looking at their journey on the road to insight-led innovation.
I have really enjoyed my time on the programme, and I was inspired by the numerous guest speakers we had along with industry experts and knowledgeable lecturers with backgrounds in innovation, insights, entrepreneurship, market research, marketing and leadership. I now have a newfound appreciation and an understanding of how vital innovation and actionable insights are as we try to meet consumers needs in this ever-changing world.”
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