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Get to know Natalie Sharpe, Head of Product of Oliver’s Real Food

Sharpe teased a big year for the brand in terms of menu development.

QSR Media: What makes you excited about your position?
Sharpe: As an Accredited Practicing Dietitian and foodie at heart, this is a dream position for me as I can combine my skills in nutrition with my passion for delicious food. Health-focused QSR is a really exciting space to be in so to be in a role where I can grow with Oliver’s and make a difference to the lives of Australians is very exciting.

What are your key business philosophies?
Understand the customer. Utilise those around you to - staff, expert partners and customers - to understand what the customer is looking for, where the category is headed, and how both can be implemented into the product.

Be solutions focused. Never say it can’t be done, instead focus on finding a way to make the right things happen. Being in an industry where health can be compromised in the face of operational or financial challenges, I’m constantly looking to find solutions that deliver on our health and nutrition goals.

Innovate for the benefit of consumers. Innovation is what makes a brand stand out among its competitors, so finding new ways to make eating healthy easy for more Australians is key to my approach.

What goals are you focused on?
Making healthy eating easier for more Aussies when they’re on the go, without ever compromising on taste and flavour. We’ve got a big year ahead of menu development - from Oliver’s twists on the classics to some new exclusive items - so customers can expect lots of delicious new menu items in the next 12 months.

I’m also very focused on our staff across the store network and providing them the best opportunity to prepare the menu with speed and consistency. From kitchen layouts and equipment to training and ongoing learning, a lot is happening in this space!

What long-term changes are you planning on?
Setting a good foundation for long-term growth and development of our product. We have a lot of big plans for the future, but first we’re focusing on transitioning our core menu to a healthier, more approachable and delicious range that caters to every dietary, allergen or preference.

What previous positions have prepared you for this one and how?
I’ve been involved with Oliver’s for nearly eight years working in nutrition and label compliance, which has given me a really solid understanding of all elements of the business.

I also previously owned and operated three healthy food-to-go outlets, so the first-hand operations, logistics and financial experience has been a huge advantage. In the food industry, where every dollar counts, so many elements must align to ensure profitability.

I quickly learnt the more structure you have in place the stronger your financial position will be. This led my husband and I to develop Prepit, a food production platform that we actually use at Oliver’s. It’s a great tool for recipe costing, product assembly and ordering, and to create nutrition labels to comply with the Food Standards Code.

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