Be Inspired Series
After university, Kiera worked for Armstrong Medical then moved into Key Account management. She worked for Genesis Bakery, Cantrell and Cochrane and PRM before joining Henderson Foodservice.
What does your job entail?
I am responsible for managing the independent sales function within Henderson Foodservice and delivering the sales and profit for the division.
I achieve these corporate goals by effectively managing a team of Business Development managers and by devising and implementing business strategies.
Within my division, we supply to a broad range of sectors including hotels, restaurants, bars, schools, and nursing homes, to name but a few. There are over 2,000 independent customers and a portfolio of 3,500 products. This keeps my team and I very busy.
How did you get into this line of work?
Having completed the Premier Graduate Management Programme I got a job immediately in Armstrong Medical looking after their export sales and marketing. This was my first taste of sales and I really enjoyed working in this fast-paced type of environment.
My intention wasn't to go into sales as I had spent my university placement working in economic development; however I have never regretted moving into the sales arena.
Outline your career to date.
I stayed at Armstrong Medical for a year then moved into Key Account Management within the FMCG sector for six years.
I worked for Genesis Bakery, Cantrell and Cochrane (now Britvic) and PRM which has given me a broad range of skills, experience and exposure to different industry sectors. I have now been with Henderson Foodservice for five years.
Tell us about your qualifications/ training.
I have a BSc Hons in Economics and Geography. After university I completed the Premier Graduate Management Programme.
During my career with market-leading organisations, I have benefited from first-class training and development which has helped me get to where I am today.
Did you always want to work in your chosen sector?
I didn't set out to work in sales initially but once I moved into Key Account management, I didn't see myself doing anything else. It presented an opportunity to progress quickly which really motivated me.
What qualities are required for your position -- personal and professional?
In our business, I spend a lot of time with customers therefore you need to be articulate, a quick thinker, well prepared and a good networker.
The role is definitely not a nine to five job! In order to be successful you must be very committed and dedicated. You need to be able to seek out opportunities and find effective solutions to business issues.
What do you do day-to-day?
My day is varied and wide-ranging. I try to spend as much time in front of the customer negotiating business contracts and building long-term customer relationships.
As part of the senior management team within Henderson Foodservice, I am heavily involved in strategic business meetings and projects.
In among all of this I spend time with my team supporting and developing them to be the best they can be.
Detail any recent projects that are reflective of your job and your industry.
I work closely with our Buying Team and we have a number of Trade Marketing Initiatives to drive our sales, keep us ahead of the competition and to ensure Henderson Foodservice lead the market.
What makes working in your industry interesting and challenging?
Selling an extensive product portfolio to a very diverse customer base across several different sectors makes my job very complex and challenging.
The food business works at a very fast pace and where one door closes another opportunity arises. We can't take customers' loyalty for granted and we must work hard to achieve this. Therefore the customer always comes first. I never get complacent and always strive to be the best.
Having achieved our budget in 2009 in one of the toughest years ever, the challenge for me is inspiring and motivating my team to do even better this year.
What career progression opportunities are available?
There are five companies within the Henderson Group, so the opportunities are endless.
What kind of personality do you need to operate within your chosen industry?
You need to be tenacious, resilient, self-motivated, personable and reliable.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
As a busy working mum, in my spare time, I like to spend quality time with my lively two-year old. I enjoy eating out and socialising when I can and love to try anywhere new.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself?
I started a degree in Town Planning in Scotland but very quickly realised this was not the career path for me. In my first week I was presented with an architect drawing board. It became clear that a technical role was not what I wanted.
I have excelled now working in a customer-facing environment which has proven to be the right career choice.
Who has inspired you most in your life?
There is no one individual person. I have learnt a lot by working in a good mix of family and corporate businesses, but for me, I believe if you are to achieve in business, you have to deliver results and I have always been self-motivated to do that.