Name: Amy Guittard
As director of marketing, my primary role is to tell our story. I describe us as a 150-year-old start up - like a start up, we all wear a lot of different hats. In that vein, marketing consists of everything from developing new products with our R&D team, to designing packaging, to collaborating with our customers like pastry chefs and confectioners, to working with our director of sustainability on our certification and origin project work. I’m always looking for ways to tell our brand and company story through our suppliers, our customers, and our heritage because we wouldn’t be who we are without any of them.
What drew you to working in the confectionery industry? (Apart from the free chocolate!)
Having grown up in a family of chocolate makers, there was certainly something that inherently drew me to the industry and I can honestly say that I fall more and more in love with the world of cocoa and chocolate the longer I’m in it. There are so many aspects of the industry, with endless opportunities to learn, collaborate, innovate and really discover - whether it’s on the sourcing side, the manufacturing side, the crafting side or the pastry and confectionery side. Once you dig into the chocolate world, there’s always more to learn.
There’s something special about working in cocoa - the level of craft and care and passion that spans throughout the supply chain inspires a certain level of commitment and care in me and frankly us as a company. Here’s this product that’s been lauded as a food of the gods, that comes from the earth, that has this rich history; it’s our job to honor that, to craft that intermediary between the earth and people.
There’s something special about working in cocoa - the level of craft and care and passion that spans throughout the supply chain inspires a certain level of commitment and care in me and frankly us as a company
After university, I knew I wanted to work in business, as I felt that business was an ideal vehicle from which to drive systemic change, be it through supply chain, consumer engagement, or advocacy and especially food business or CPG. Thus began my journey into the world of food. Having worked at Clif Bar & Company for nearly six years, I realized just how truly impactful building a better business can be, particularly one focused on crafting food. That experience taught me about the value of being a responsible business and how true change can come from building and sustaining strong relationships.
What do you love most about your job?
Is this a trick question? I really love it all but I think mostly it’s about carrying on the heritage of the four generations that came before me, honoring the path and the business values that they established and evolving the company in new ways as the world around us continues to change in ways they never thought imaginable.
What do you dislike most about your job?
The things that I dislike also inspire me. I stay awake at night thinking about all the things that we can do better. I guess there’s a certain unsaid pressure that comes with carrying on a family legacy, inspired to continue to make it better. It’s those voices in the back of my head that sort of drive me crazy but also propel me forward. I’m always looking at the industry, what others are doing, what we can do better, while trying to figure out how we can push the industry, and our own business, forward.
What is your biggest creative achievement so far?
I don’t think of creativity in terms of achievement but rather seamless integration into all that I do. Every ounce of our lives is creative; how we think, how we communicate, collaborating with others, being curious, finding inspiration from the every day. It’s just being open to seeing it that way and then having the opportunity to share that creativity with others.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I’ve never been big on envisioning myself in the future but rather envisioning things I’d like to achieve or do.
Right now, I’m focusing on balance (who isn’t?), continuing to find joy in the little things and create new moments and experiences that fuel me with the reinvigoration that I need to stay on my toes. Getting myself out of a comfort zone is key to identifying those beacons toward inspiration.
Describe a typical work day.
Well, one of the good things about my job is there really is no typical work day.
My days are pretty jam packed; while some days I walk down the hill to my gym so I can get a little sweat session in prior to starting my work day, other times I'm in full-on work mode with an early conference call. Either way, I need a hearty dose of coffee to get going. From then on, it might be a mix of meetings in the plant, writing content for sustainability messaging, press meetings and tastings with pastry chefs. It usually ends with dinner at a customer’s restaurant, a walk along the water with some girlfriends, drinks at a local wine bar or just staying in my SF apartment to watercolor. I’m definitely trying hard to balance the hustle and steer clear of getting into the habit of going non stop. It’s much too easy for me to fall into that pattern.
What do you do enjoy doing outside of work?
Anything that gets me off my phone and into the fresh air. Surfing is my happy place—there’s something about being in the ocean that reminds me that I can be both strong and graceful. At its essence, surfing is succumbing to something more powerful and out of our control while staying present and going with the flow. It’s all a big lesson in how to live. Trail Running, too; similar lessons, different medium. I also love to bake (go figure!) so any excuse to get my Kitchen Aid out works wonders.
What do you think will be the next big thing in the confectionery world?
I’m not sure but I can tell you what I hope for and that’s looking forward to the day when good food, is accessible to all regardless of price point and a time when doing good business is less about a point of differentiation for brands and more about just the way that it is.
Apple or Android?
What is your favourite book or podcast?
I listen to The Daily, almost daily. Apropos.
I also really love How I Built This and The Tim Ferris Show—always really great, in-depth interviews.
Favourite book is a tough one as I studied English Literature so I can always find something meaningful about most every book. BUT, I do really love Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Didion’s Slouching Toward Bethlehem. So many; truly.
Where do you stand on social media – can’t live without it, or an evil necessity?
I have Facebook, leftover from my “younger years.” I rarely use it but can’t seem to get rid of it as it’s a strange nostalgic tie to my past. My Facebook world is like a snapshot back to post-University days. I do enjoy Instagram, if for nothing more than it forces me to think visually. My personal Instagram account is lots of water and flowers and mountains. The Guittard Instagram is much more chocolate and provides a way for us to connect with our virtual community and see where our chocolate goes once it leaves our door, which is always a fun discovery. You know, we work so hard to source these ingredients and craft this chocolate for pastry chefs, confectioners and bakers to use; seeing what comes of it always inspires.
If you could change one thing in the confectionery industry, what would it be?
That we, as an industry, would collaborate more with partners, suppliers and governments of origin countries. There’s a lot of great work being done and yet I think really truly understanding and collaborating with farming partners, listening and learning together is key to long-term sustainability for the industry as a whole.
What’s the biggest misconception about working in confectionery?
People often seem surprised when I tell them I eat a lot of chocolate, despite working with it every day. So I guess that?
What advice would you give to other people looking to get into the confectionery industry?
The more the merrier.
Time’s up! Thank you Amy.
CREATIVE CONVERSATIONS is Confectionery News’s new online series profiling influential people working in the confectionery industry. We want to discover what makes you tick and to inspire others to follow your path.
Please contact CN editor Anthony Myers to put yourself or a colleague forward.