Get to know Christine Tacon

Tell us about yourself

I Chair Red Tractor, which is an Assured Food Standard scheme in the UK, I Chair MDS Ltd a graduate recruitment and training scheme for the food and fresh produce sectors and have other NED and advisory roles all connected with the food industry.

How would describe your professional career?

I started out as a production engineer which has been excellent training for everything I have done since! I spent 3 years working and getting chartered and then moved into largely marketing of fmcg for Mars Confectionery, Vodafone and Fonterra. A head hunter recruited me to run the Co-op’s farming business, which was the largest in the UK at the time, clearly with no knowledge of farming. I brought my commercial expertise to that and stayed for 11years. I left to have more of a portfolio career and worked for 8 years, part-time, as the first Groceries Code Adjudicator, a government appointed regulator to make sure the UK retailers treated their suppliers properly. I enjoyed that role very much and made significant changes to supply chain efficiency by changing culture at retailers to work better, and in a way compliant with the Code, with their suppliers. I am now advising Canada as they go down the same path!

Can you tell us about a time where you encountered a business challenge?

Starting off as a regulator with a clean sheet, a piece of regulation and no team was quite a challenge. I chose to approach it like any business problem, doing research, putting in place an annual survey so I could see progress and where things needed improving and working with the stakeholders in a collaborative way talking about what I was trying to achieve and working with them, rather than wielding a big stick as a regulator. I had the stick and I wasn’t afraid to use it, which I did on 2 occasions when I investigated Tesco and the Co-op, but these investigations were conducted in a very professional manner and both retailers improved significantly in terms of Code compliance as a result. 

Which supporting skills do you think are most important when it comes to leadership?

Coaching and having faith in your team that they can do more than they think they can!

What steps do you take to make sure that projects are completed on time, on budget, and to the proper standard?

I am hands on and probably a bit too pushy on timetables, but I think that comes from working in fresh produce and fast-moving consumer goods: customers and competitors move very fast and so must we. I like numbers and am always on top of budgets. I trust my team to do the work to the right standard, and they do.

What are you passionate about?

Enjoying work!

Where do you see yourself in five years?

More of the same, working part-time but at Chair level in various food related businesses, whether in them or servicing them.

How do you see the food industry?

Secure, fast-moving, exciting and massive potential to change

The foodeshow in 2 words

Great initiative

Your advice to the foodeshow community

Keep up the Continuous Professional Development and we can do so much virtually now

Missed the video interview in 2020? no worries watch her

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