Operations

Coworking with Punam Patel

She’s VP of product development at OLLY and SmartyPants Vitamins
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Punam Patel

· 3 min read

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After over two years working in product development at vitamin brand OLLY, Punam Patel just jumped into a fresh job title, becoming VP of product development across OLLY and SmartyPants Vitamins, both owned by Unilever.

How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t work in retail? As the VP of Product Development at OLLY and Smartypants Vitamins, my job is to oversee the innovation and creation of the supplements you see on retail shelves and online. It’s a particularly interesting intersection of science and retail, as I work closely with both our team of scientists to make sure the products are effective, and our retail strategy teams to make sure we’re creating products that consumers want. 

One thing we can’t guess about your job from your LinkedIn profile? I don’t work in a lab all day! My job is a mix of science, product development, working with our regulatory team, taste-testing flavors, and even getting to travel for events like our recent back-to-school brunch, where I met Hilary Duff!

What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on? Recently at OLLY, we launched our first line of adaptogens. This was particularly fun to work on because it’s an entirely new category for OLLY. Adaptogens are natural herbs and plants that tap into the body’s stress response and help us stay even-keel through stimulus, rather than swinging drastically from high to low. For me, this science was exciting to explore and for OLLY, as it helps reach a new set of customers who may be new to supplements or want to explore these ingredients.

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Which emerging retail trend are you most excited about right now, and why? We continue to see a lot of interest and growth around gut health, which I am super excited about. Last year, we launched our gut health line at OLLY, and they’re also some of my favorite products. We continue to see how important probiotics are to our day-to-day health, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it will continue to show up in retail and online.

What’s your go-to coffee order? Simple cappuccino always hits the spot, but it has to be extra hot. I always look forward to the fall and winter flavors in my cappuccino!

Worst piece of advice you’ve received? The old saying, “Don’t rock the boat” or “Don’t fix it if it’s not broken.” While I understand change is hard, I firmly believe all good things worth achieving are never easy. We should always be looking ahead to adapt to changing business needs, because what got us here will not keep us here. A great leader should be open to change, new ways of working and thinking, to best support their team and their business.

What was your favorite retail product when you were 15, and what’s your favorite retail product now? I’ve always loved makeup. Feeling and looking good are both very important—from the inside and out.

Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

Retail Brew delivers the latest retail industry news and insights surrounding marketing, DTC, and e-commerce to keep leaders and decision-makers up to date.