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Beyond the Pour: Brown Gill, Innovation Manager

Our bold product innovations are fueled by a host of passionate, consumer-obsessed brand builders who bring these new ideas to life. Introducing Brown Gill, an Innovation Manager who turned a temporary marketing contract into a decade-long career spanning various teams, roles and employee resource groups. Explore how Brown’s insatiable curiosity and commitment to meeting consumer needs ignited a career in innovation and the unique opportunity to develop new product ideas.

What does a day in your role look like?

My typical day is dynamic and varied. I could be leading a brainstorm, attending market research focus groups, taste-testing a new product formula in the R&D lab, or reviewing packaging artwork for an upcoming innovation launch. I regularly balance strategic thinking with practical execution to deliver impactful new products that align with consumer needs and deliver on brand, portfolio and organizational goals.

Who/What inspired you to pursue a career in innovation?

My previous experience at KDP allowed me to engage with innovation from a cross-functional perspective, contributing to several product launches as a supporting team member. When an opportunity arose to join the Innovation team, I prioritized bridging my existing skills to fit the new role. My mentor at the time encouraged me to apply, and I was promoted to my current position in 2021. I have always been passionate about problem-solving, and innovation provides the perfect avenue to channel this enthusiasm into creating solutions that directly benefit our consumers. This role has enabled me to see my ideas come to life, providing a profound sense of fulfillment.

Describe your career path. What brought you to your current role?

A decade ago, I took a chance on KDP and accepted a three-month contract with KDP’s marketing department. Despite its temporary nature, I couldn’t resist the opportunity. That initial contract extended into a full year, and in 2015, I became a permanent employee. Over the years, I’ve held seven roles across five different teams, contributing to various brands in our cold beverage portfolio. Notable highlights include launching Dr Pepper and Canada Dry pods as part of the pre-merger launch of Keurig Kold, leading the Dr Pepper Tuition program and half-time football toss, managing the Clamato brand and perfecting my Michelada recipe and spearheading the launch of several innovations including Snapple Elements and Sunkist Mango Orange.

What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career in innovation?

Remain endlessly curious and always prioritize understanding the needs and desires of consumers. Embrace lifelong learning, ask questions and explore new ideas constantly. Always strive to push boundaries, collaborate effectively and maintain a clear vision that championing bold ideas can make a meaningful impact.

Can you share ways you have developed at KDP (mentoring, training, etc.)?

My development journey at KDP has been enriched by both formal and informal mentorship. I actively prioritize leading conversations about my development with my manager and ask for stretch assignments and cross-functional exposure. I also regularly engage in internal and external training opportunities to broaden my skill set and perspective.

Additionally, I am committed to coaching and mentoring others. I have been a champion of mentoring through our marketing internship program, guiding two interns to accept full-time offers. I am also actively involved in Diversity & Inclusion at KDP through the LGBTQ+ ERG, where I served as Culture Pillar Lead and planned pride events for 2021 and 2022, and I am a member of the Early Career Professionals ERG.