Artem Mekshun is a 2019 graduate with a Bachelor of Business Administration from the International Commerce and Global Development program. He worked with the Business & Commercialization Innovation Centre as a Business Analyst from May 2018 to December 2019. He now works at McCain Foods Ltd.
Tell us about where you work.
I am currently employed at McCain Foods Ltd. as a Manager on the Global Revenue Management team. The company is a food manufacturer that specializes in frozen French fries and various appetizers. One out of every four French fries consumed in the world is manufactured by McCain Foods Ltd. and we service clients like McDonald’s, Burger King and Tim Hortons.
What year did you graduate and what program?
I graduated in 2019 from ICOMM (BBA – International Commerce & Global Development) program.
What led you to want to go to Niagara College in the first place?
Canada was my No. 1 country when it came to deciding where to pursue my secondary education. The reason I chose to go to Niagara College (NC) was due to its strong reputation in the Ukraine and some great recommendations that I received from an agency that was helping me to immigrate.
I really think that Niagara College is unique in terms of the value that it can provide to its students. Can you name another educational institution that takes pride in providing high-quality education to its students and that brews its own beer, distills its own vodka, makes its own wine, and grows its own cannabis? The choice to come to NC was an obvious one!
When did you work with Research & Innovation? Years and what was your role?
I worked at R&I from May 2018 to December 2019, both as a Business Research Assistant and a Business Research Associate.
Describe your current job and what you like about it.
I am a Manager on the Global Revenue Management team within McCain’s Global Project Management Office. My team is responsible for providing strategic and transformational guidance around the globe with a purpose of optimizing net sales per kilogram, by identifying commercial projects within the following topline levers: Price Strategy, Product Pricing, Trade & Customer Pricing, Commercial Governance, Freight, Sales Strategy.
The best part of my job is the global exposure. I get to work on numerous projects across most of the regions where McCain conducts operations, such as Australia, Continental Europe, North America, and Great Britain.
Secondly, my role doesn’t have any cadence or routine as it is heavily driven by the engagements that I am involved in. As a result, every single day is unique and full of learning and development opportunities. My team uses advanced analytics and best-in-class methodologies to deliver margin enhancement and I get a chance to learn all of it firsthand from the best.
How was your experience with R&I helped prepare you for your current role?
My work experience as a Research Assistant and Research Associate was instrumental to my decision to further develop my career in the world of CPG. During my time there, I had a lot of opportunities to work with Niagara-based food and beverage producers and to learn specifics of this industry. I was able to utilize this knowledge and experience to bring a unique perspective to the table both when I was an Analyst at General Mills and later when I joined McCain.
A memorable applied research project during your time at R&I?
My favourite engagement with R&I was a market research project that we conducted for a global manufacturer of alcoholic beverages. This was the first time that I had a chance to work with such a large company and the amount of responsibility that I felt was overwhelming. Nevertheless, together with my team, we were able to establish an effective framework for our analysis and met all the required deliverables. As a result, we were able to deliver the project on time and met our client’s expectations.
My biggest lesson from this project was the importance of learning how to work as part of a team. Understanding this has tremendously benefitted me in my next roles because success of my future projects heavily depended on effective collaboration with my teammates.
“My work experience as a Research Assistant and Research Associate was instrumental to my decision to further develop my career in the world of CPG. During my time there, I had a lot of opportunities to work with Niagara-based food and beverage producers and to learn specifics of this industry. I was able to utilize this knowledge and experience to bring a unique perspective to the table.” – Artem Mekshun
Do you have any special memories during your time as a student at NC?
I have two most memorable moments at NC. The first one took place in March 2017, when I heard the results of a student election to the NCSAC office and learnt that I had just been elected as a Director of Clubs for the Daniel J. Patterson campus. I was filled with joy and happiness.
The second one occurred in March 2018, when I heard the result of a student election to the Board of Governors of Niagara College and learned that I had lost in that election. I felt quite devastated, but I learned a lot from that campaign.
The bottom line is that two of my most memorable moments at NC are related to participating in college life that goes way beyond pure education. I strongly recommend any NC student to take advantage of the hundreds of extracurricular opportunities that the college provides. These opportunities will eventually comprise your most memorable moments of the student life.
Do you have a mentor that influenced you?
A lot of people at R&I were crucial for my personal and professional development. Chief among them is three Research [Program] Managers that I had a chance to work with: Paula Reile, Kristine Canniff, and Neil Wilkinson. All of them brought a magnitude of knowledge and numerous best practices that I was able to absorb and implement later in my career.
What advice would you give to a current student?
Never underestimate the power of teamwork and diversity of opinions. Quite often, having a well-rounded brainstorming session with your Project Manager or fellow Research Associates (even if they are not directly involved in your individual project) can constitute a difference between a successful project and a failure.
After being in the workforce, what have you learned?
In the real world, simply being book-smart is not enough. Companies are built on relationships and one’s ability to effectively bond with other people is valued much more than one’s college grades. Take advantage of teamwork synergies where 1 + 1 = 3. Learn how to build successful relationships and how to collaborate with others. Stay open-minded and welcome opinions from others.
What do you do in your personal time?
For the most part, I parent two cats. I also love travelling and exploring new places. Every long weekend, I am doing my best to discover another natural gem that Ontario has to offer. My other passions include rooting for Chelsea, exploring new cuisines, and playing board games with my friends.
Proudest achievement since graduating?
My proudest achievement since graduating is proposing to the most beautiful girl in the world and organizing an amazing wedding celebration within a period of two weeks. And my cats no longer go to the kitchen without my permission, that’s a major parenting success.
If you could have a billboard message seen by many, what would it say?
Every human heartbeat is an entire universe of opportunities.