Describe your role, and how you got here.
My current role is as General Manager - Strategic Accounts, overseeing the partnership that Takeoff has with Majid Al Futtaim (Carrefour MAF) in the Middle East.
I have always been interested in retail and Groery Automation technology. After graduating with a degree in Economics at the University of Exeter, I started my career on the Aldi graduate scheme and worked there for just under 5 years as an Area Manager overseeing 5-7 stores. I then joined Echo, a digital retail pharmacy startup as it’s Director of Operations and Strategy to set up and implement the overall operations to enable Echo to grow exponentially in line with investors expectations. During the two and a half years I was there, Echo grew to become the busiest online pharmacy in Europe before being acquired by McKesson in 2019. I was then approached by and joined Ocado to oversee their move into the Micro Fulfillment Center (MFC) concept. An opportunity then arose for me to join Takeoff, which given my interest and belief that the future of online retail is going to be driven by Micro Fulfillment Centers, rather than Centralized Fulfillment Centers, was a natural career move. MFC’s offer a faster route to market, faster delivery times and a reduction of the last mile costs for the retailer. They also maximize the revenue of existing retail space, which may have lost physical footfall due to the growth in online consumption habits and thus MFC’s allow retailers to sweat their existing assets.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
I really enjoy the variety of the role, from being in the thick of it at the MFC one day, to having high level strategic meetings with the clients senior stakeholders the next. I have been lucky enough to have been involved with Woolworths in Australia & New Zealand, and Carrefour MAF in the Middle East. They are two very different retailers in very different markets and I have enjoyed developing an understanding of the nuances of each retailer, and how the Takeoff model sits within their overall strategy.
What does a ‘day in the life’ at your job look like for you?
Every day is different! Some days I will be meeting with the operations team on-site and getting a better understanding of operational and technical bottlenecks in the system, and others I will be at our client’s head office meeting senior stakeholders to discuss their overall online strategy for 2021 and beyond. All the time, I keep a close eye on the various metrics that will help to optimize the performance of the sites helping to unlock future opportunities.
Do you have any strategies for managing your time?
This is something I am actively working on! I try to maximize my time between meetings to spend the appropriate time in the MFCs, and I set aside time to concentrate on emails and putting client-facing materials together. I am currently based in Dubai, and given that we are a global company, I interact with teams located in the US and Australia, who are in completely different time zones! Though this presents a challenge, I work hard to prioritize tasks and create balance.
Now that we have been remote due to Covid-19, what is one piece of advice you would give to any recent college graduate entering the workforce?
Seemingly gone are the days of face-to-face-interviews and the benefits that come with them, some of which you cannot easily replicate over a video call. I think graduates, more than ever before need to be creative about finding ways to stand out from the crowd both on their CV and through their video presentation skills. The world of work has changed more in the last year than in the previous decade and with that both companies and applicants are learning to adapt. Remaining positive and resilient is important. I would encourage everyone to approach a mindset of ‘we’re all new to this’ where possible. It’s important to identify trends resulting from Covid-19 as, whilst some industries have been hit really hard, others are prospering. With that will come exciting employment opportunities.
What soft skills should someone in your field have?
Resilience, interpersonal skills, an eye for detail and always a positive ‘can do’ approach.
Is there a quote that motivates you?
“If you can stay hungry and humble you will go far” Toni Nadal (Rafael Nadal’s coach and uncle) to Rafael Nadal in his early days of his tennis career.
Who inspires you?
I am a huge sports fan and so some of my inspirations come from that arena — Jonny Wilkinson, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal. From a business perspective- it would have to be Steve Jobs and the legacy he has built at Apple, and Elon Musk with his desire to push the boundaries on what the human race can achieve particularly with Space X and Tesla.
Any book recommendations?
Red Notice: Bill Browder
Unreliable Memoirs: Clive James
High Output Management: Andy Grove