Endlessly curious, and with a love for learning, Lee Smith helps us do MORE

Full of useful marketing insights, coffee, and a zest for life, Lee Smith brings passion and a steadfast work ethic to her role as Customer & Channel Marketing Manager LIVEKINDLY Collective Africa.

We interviewed Lee to learn more about her and her journey so far…

It’s no wonder Lee loves working for RCL FOODS with her biggest passion being food: she believes that more than simply nourishing humans, food creates emotional connections between people. It has inspired a deep-seated passion within her to see a world where everyone has access to nutritious food.

With the plant-based category still in its infancy in South Africa, Lee gets excited when she is able to refine actionable consumer insights that drive category growth. She enjoys creating impactful partnerships by finding business and innovation synergies between her team and the customers’ brands.

Lee’s career journey started in her third year of university. She was a social sciences student who worked at a creative agency during the day and as a waitress at night. One evening, Lee served a group of individuals from the alcohol industry. The sales manager for the team, Richard Van Wyk, saw potential in Lee and offered her a job selling a range of alcohol brands, activating marketing promos and hosting events.

Two years later, Lee joined Unilever Food Solutions. Her marketing roles included Channel Marketing for Retail Deli and Trade Marketing for route-to-market partners. It was here that Lee’s passion for the traditional food service industry was ignited.

In 2015, Lee joined RCL FOODS in their business-to-business marketing team, with a strong focus in quick service restaurant. Lee has fulfilled 3 roles in her 6 years at RCL FOODS including Brand Manager, Channel Marketing Manager and most recently, Customer & Channel Marketing Manager LIVEKINDLY Collective Africa.

Lee is grateful for how her role has afforded her the opportunity to learn from the most talented leaders. Being a part of the Food Partners team allows her to flex her curiosity and discover new learnings as every project is unique and requires a different way of thinking.

When asked about her proudest moment, Lee shares that it was seeing an individual that she’d had the privilege of leading and coaching succeed in their new role. “One of my greatest passions is creating an environment in which an individual can flourish and be themselves. There is nothing more gratifying than being part of someone’s career.”

When discussing the ability to perform well when dealing with a setback, Lee is quick to highlight the importance of a strongsupport network that includes family, friends, colleagues, and a mentor. She recommends rooting a part of yourself in something deeply personal outside the work environment as this “fill your energy bucket.”

The best piece of career advice that Lee received was “always show up as your authentic self” because it creates an environment of inclusivity and human connection. Having made such huge strides in the industry, Lee has this advice for up-and-coming female grads: “Bring your unique energy with you every day. Ask the uncomfortable questions. Trust your instincts and make space for other individuals’ voices.”

We are grateful for people like Lee who, by doing their job well, contribute to making RCL FOODS the success that it is today.