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Igniting Imagination: Sarah Rushton

At the Royal Garden Hotel, we believe that igniting imagination and building everlasting memories are at the core of the perfect family break. Therefore, as part of our family-friendly promise, we are interviewing passionate professionals to inspire your little ones.

Next up we have Sarah Rushton, Product and Development Manager of Arnotts's Chocolate and Biscuits. Read all about the work she does and why she believes museums are important for a child's imagination. 

Please introduce yourself

My name is Sarah Rushton and I work in Research and Development for ‘Arnotts’ in Australia, leading the new product development team in biscuits and chocolate. Arnott’s is an iconic biscuit brand in Australia and has been around since 1865.

Can you expand on your role? What do you on a day to day basis?

My typical day is spent managing and helping a team of scientists and engineers who work on new product ideas in the chocolate confectionery and biscuit world. I work on developing product strategies and platforms which lead to an innovation pipeline of new products to launch into supermarkets. My team and I work on creating products ranging from new chocolate bars to traditional biscuits you can dunk into your tea. One of my favourite aspects of my job is that I need to try all the prototypes that we develop, to ensure we are creating the best product for the consumer.

What inspired you to do what you do?

I’ve always been really interested in product development, especially as a kid. I used to love building and making sculptures with any material I could find! There is something really inspiring about seeing a product you created end up on a supermarket shelf and most importantly having consumers try and love your product! I really like FMCG [Fast-Moving Consumer Goods] as it’s a fast-paced area that is always pushing the boundaries in product innovation. I’ve been very fortunate to have worked in several different locations throughout my career, including London UK, New York USA, Frankfurt Germany, Singapore Asia and now, Sydney Australia. Managing projects and developing different products keeps the job exciting and interesting, while also allowing me to travel the world.

What did you have to do in order to get to where you are now?

I studied Biological Sciences at University in Scotland and took part in a summer internship program in London with Procter & Gamble [P&G]. I was then offered the job with P&G developing new hair colourants. I then worked my way up in formulation and moved into other areas such as colour cosmetics and hair care. This taught me how to run projects in different areas, across different technologies and allowed me to progress from a researcher in the lab up into management. These are transferrable skills which have allowed me to move across from the Beauty industry into the food industry where I get work on chocolate and biscuit development! 

What has been your favourite moment in the job so far?

I’ve loved being able to work in new locations around the world. Working in Singapore Asia was so eye-opening as I was immersed in a new culture and got to live there for 6 years. My favourite product I developed was creating the new lipstick lines for Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci cosmetics, it was great to work on something which I love to use on a day-to-day basis. I’m also extremely proud of my team’s new chocolate blocks developed for Arnotts. This is the first time Arnotts have ever made chocolate blocks and are now competing against Cadburys here in Australia. They are also super delicious, so it's wonderful working on something I love to eat!

What did you want to be/what job did you want to have growing up as a child?

When I was in school, I was always interested in Science and actually wanted to go to work in a laboratory, working on cures for infectious diseases/cancer. This changed when I soon realised I could combine Science with product development and innovation on everyday products. I realised that creating new projects to launch would keep my job exciting as there will always be something new and different to create.

Do you remember your first visit to a museum? When and where was it?

I remember visiting the natural history museum in London when I was 7 years old. Going to see the huge T-rex and the blue whale bones made me really think about how amazing the world could be and how I wanted to see all of it. I then went to the Science museum the same day and this really got me excited about becoming a scientist, as the exhibits were interactive and made me think about how things work and how fun science could actually be.

How important do you think museums are for a child’s imagination?

Museums are hugely important, they can inspire children by exposing them to areas outside of their everyday life. It can show them how to learn from the past and allow them to think about creating a different future. It teaches children about the world and everything inside it. Also, it is a great way to connect children with science, animals, weather, history and of course, innovation.

Have you got any advice for children wanting to work in the scientific industry?

Follow your passion and work hard at school. Think about your goal and try hard to get there and know that it is not always a linear path. School is important, and you’ll always regret not studying hard enough or taking something seriously enough when you had the chance. I have had an amazing time working all over the world, but it's hasn't been easy. There are always subjects at school we do not like, but make sure you don’t neglect them, but also make sure you concentrate and cultivate the areas you really love!

Any other advice or words of wisdom you would like to impart?

Follow your passion, it can take you anywhere.

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We would also love to see your family adventures in London with our hashtag #RGHFamilies.




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