My Biggest Gaffe: One extra zero turned sampling into a tsunami

Kate Dwyer, consumer associate director at Grayling, recalls the youthful yoghurt error that lead to a mortifying life lesson.

Culture shock: Always check the detail or you could end up with yoghurt on your face (©GettyImages)
Culture shock: Always check the detail or you could end up with yoghurt on your face (©GettyImages)

In my teens, on placement at a global food and beverage company, I was responsible, worryingly, for going into big corporations and trying to convince the catering manager to stock our products in their canteens.

This often resulted in me setting up free sampling in these locations. Allocated a set budget, I would order the stock on an automated system, to arrive at the location.

On one such occasion, I was at a major firm when the catering manager received a call from the goods entrance; an unexpectedly large delivery had turned up.

I had, as it turned out, ordered 20,000 yoghurts, instead of 2,000, which arrived on 50 pallets. I hadn’t double-checked the form before I submitted it.

If you have never seen 20,000 yoghurts in real life, it is quite a sight. Unable to fit them in the industrial canteen fridge, I stood, wanting the ground to swallow me up, as the manager threw good food away to try to make room for them. Together we hopelessly tried to hand out 12-packs to everyone who passed by, in the hope of getting rid of them.

It was the most mortifying two hours of my life, and, to make it worse, I still had not yet mastered controlling the giggles that always set in when I am uncomfortable.

And yet, it taught me one of my greatest ever lessons.

To check, double-check, get someone else to check and check once more – a lesson that has stayed with me every day of my career in the years since.

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