Name: Elaine Wu
Job title: Co-founder
Company: Amos Sweets
Twitter url: N/A
LinkedIn url: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elaine-wu-45760733/
Tell us about your job/company/role?
I am the co-founder of Amos Sweets and also the general manager of Amos Food Group. I am responsible for sales and brand management of all international markets.
What drew you to working in the confectionery industry? (Apart from the free chocolate!)
I am a foodie. It’s as simple as that. I have loved sweets since I was a child. Thank God that my first job after college was related to food. At that time, China mainly focused on agricultural products. There were very few sweets. I am very fortunate to have met my business partner, Amos Ma (the company’s namesake), who was one of the first people in China to export confectionery. He invited me to join him in starting a candy company. I could not believe my luck that I was already faced with an opportunity to work in the food industry, so I accepted his invitation and I’ve never looked back. That was 20 years ago.
People view the confectionery industry as a simple and traditional industry, and thus not as cool as the modern, headline-grabbing high-tech industry. But in fact, the candy industry is also a creative and challenging industry.
What do you love most about your job?
I like my role as it is full of challenges. You have to be creative, especially in today’s market where tastes are diverse and consumers expect brands to go above and beyond. So when I am walking down the aisle of the supermarket and I see our products sitting on a shelf, it is one of the proudest feelings I have experienced, and not just personally but for the whole team. That feeling of pride and validation is addictive, and that’s what makes it all worthwhile. Working with a group of talented people makes every day quite fulfilling. Each day is packed with challenges, surprises, and joy, and I have learned such a great deal from them and they have helped me grow so much, too.
What do you dislike most about your job?
Honestly, not much. I relish each day! But as we are branding on a global scale, it means we must travel frequently, visit customers all around the world, and conduct business talks. This is often out-of-hours which, unfortunately, means I do not see my daughter as much as I would like to and this makes me feel helpless and unwilling. I really enjoy spending time with her.
What is your biggest creative achievement so far?
This year marks the 15th anniversary of Amos Sweets. From a start-up of just four people in 2004 to a family of 700 people today. But the reception to our 4D Gummy brand is something I hold close to my heart. We created some of the world's first innovative gummy sweets, such as Gummy Blocks, our edible building bricks, and our three-dimensional fruits. These have been received so positively by consumers all around the world. It really is a cool thing to do something that someone else has not done before.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Still in my beloved confectionery industry, creating more fun and delicious candy with our talented team.
Describe a typical work day.
The first thing I do is drive my daughter to school around 7.30am in the morning. Then begins a busy day at the office. There will be a variety of meetings. Board meetings, management meetings, sometimes we’ll meet suppliers and important customers, and other times investors. And of course, I will listen to a variety of product development ideas, market feedback, and make various decisions. There are also many documents to look over and approve on a daily basis. When I leave the office, though we’re in such a connected world these days, I always try to dedicate at least 40 minutes to exercise. Usually running.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
My favourite things to do outside of work are to spend time with my family, travel (for leisure!), read books, go shopping, and enjoy great food. I do not get a lot of me-time, but when I do that’s how I like to spend it.
What do you think the next big thing will be in the confectionery world?
The confectionery industry is moving towards health. This is the trend. People are more concerned about the effects of sugar consumption, especially in Asia. Mothers worry that sugar will, among other things, bring tooth decay to children. So, sweet products are not too popular with parents. Therefore, in the future, the candy industry must integrate this into its development. I believe that the advancement of technology will bring about those necessary breakthroughs which will enable consumers to enjoy the delicious taste of candy while also not having to worry about their health.
Apple or Android?
Apple. I use an iPhone so I am not too familiar with Android.
What is your favourite book?
Ordinary World by Lu Yao. But my favourite writer is the 2012 Nobel Prize winner, Mo Yan. I loved Frog. I also really like history books and biographies, whether it’s Western or Eastern.
Where do you stand on social media – can’t live without it, or an evil necessity?
Of course, I welcome social media. The more social, the better in my opinion! It brings us more information and makes it easier for us to communicate with the world, and vice-versa. This is a godsend when developing products for so many markets.
If you could change one thing in the confectionery industry, what would it be?
The prejudice against candy and the demonization of the side effects of sugar consumption. Especially in Asia, people are very conscious of the fact that they are indulging. At times it seems as though it is viewed as negatively as opium! They think that not only is eating candy related to tooth decay, but also that it is not good for their child’s growth, excitement levels, addiction, etc. So as a result, many mothers will not allow their children to eat sweets and chocolate. It is regrettable because it deprives children of one of life’s great pleasures!
What’s the biggest misconception about working in confectionery?
People like to talk about high technology, such as the Internet companies, unicorn start-ups and so on. They believe that the confectionery industry is a simple and traditional industry, and thus not as cool as the modern, headline-grabbing high-tech industry. But in fact, the candy industry is also a creative and challenging industry. You have to create and develop delicious and interesting candy to satisfy people's taste buds and stimulate people’s high visual expectations too.
What advice would you give to other people looking to get into the confectionery industry?
Firstly, you must have a high sense of responsibility. That’s true of the entire food industry because the products we make are directly linked to people's health. Second, you must have unlimited imagination and creativity. Every product you make should be thought of as a work of art because pleasure comes not only from taste but also from sight. Confectionery is a fashion industry that keeps pace with the times, so it is also important to keep an open mind. Third, love! You have to love what you do from the bottom of your heart, and then work is no longer work anymore. If you are not partial to a bit of candy, it is not for you. Do these three things to the max! Great products come from teams and team members that have all of these attributes.
Time's up! Thank you Elaine.
- CREATIVE CONVERSATIONS is Confectionery News’s 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.
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