Career Paths: A doctor takes on beverage industry challenges

Austin Mudd takes a very scientific approach to marketing. As a marketing manager for Molson Coors Beverage Company’s innovation division, he helps facilitate new products from idea to launch.

He “triangulates” the gap between consumer demand and business needs. He “makes sense” of consumer trends. He “forms a hypothesis” to gauge how a new product might perform.

It’s what you might expect from someone who studied molecular biology in college and earned a doctorate in nutritional neuroscience before finding his calling in the beverage industry.

Today he calls himself a “dot connector” who “helps to make sure all the cross-functional teams are talking the same language so we can effectively communicate to consumers.”

It’s a far cry from the labs of Ohio State and the University of Illinois, where Mudd studied. But he's brought the scientific method to the marketing labs of Molson Coors.

“We get to be super creative and leverage data, whether it’s menu trends, focus groups or bespoke quantitative studies with thousands of consumers," says Mudd, who was a Division I swimmer at Ohio State. “Once you have the data, you act quickly to form a new hypothesis and then test that iteratively so that what you put on shelf is consumer co-created and you have a high degree of confidence it is going to grow the business.”

Mudd transitioned from research to a working at a consultancy, where Molson Coors was a client.

As someone who is creative, analytical and innovative, he knew that the next step in his career would be developing new products for consumers. Equally as important, he sought a collaborative environment that prioritized individual learning and development.

“Some colleagues of mine had worked at Molson Coors and often talked about the strength of the culture, so that’s what ultimately led me here,” says Mudd, who joined the company in the spring of 2023.

He was also drawn to the challenge of innovating in a category like beer that’s been declining. And he was intrigued by the fact that the company was open to people from different backgrounds, noting Sergey Yeskov, Molson Coors’ EMEA&APAC president, has a degree from an aerospace institute.

“Part of me wondered if I had what it takes because I don’t have a traditional marketing background. But hearing a rocket scientist is running a significant part of our business showed me I can leverage some of the skills I’ve developed along the way,” Mudd says.

Now the Indianapolis native is seeking to learn as much as he can about the beverage industry and helping develop new products, while knowing that most of them will never make it to market.

“In my time at Molson Coors, I’ve worked on five or six projects, and only two of them have made it into the hands of consumers, including Blue Moon Non-Alcoholic. It takes a specific kind of mindset to go through all of that work to know it might not see the light of day, but you’re learning throughout,” Mudd says, adding that his background in competitive swimming helped develop the grit required to work in innovation.

Mudd is committed to learning at Molson Coors, and the company’s giving him opportunities to learn and fail and try again.

“It can be hard in the moment to think of something as learning, especially if it’s really challenging,” he says. “It takes self-reflection, having a growth mindset and not letting people stand in your way or define your own path.”

That’s a prescription for success.