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Francesca, Angela and Simona work in sales for Diageo Italy

Francesca, Angela and Simona work in sales for Diageo Italy

 December 10, 2018

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Imagine a career where you can build great customer relationships, become an expert on latest consumer trends, and help shape the future of a business - all by selling some of the world’s most treasured brands and products.

Where Women Work caught up with some impressive relationship-builders who help Diageo Italy adapt to changes in the marketplace - and also lead the change. Diageo women work in commercial roles out in the field, in customer management and marketing. They bring an entrepreneurial spirit to everything they do. 

Diageo has iconic, timeless brands and there are talented women working to find these brands new places to thrive. There's lots of potential with new generations of shoppers, new untapped markets, new occasions, and new outlets. And this is where many women in Diageo are truly forging their careers - let's hear from some of the exceptional women Where Women Work caught up with.

Meet Francesca Niglio, Head of On Trade Channel for Diageo

Diageo - Francesca Niglio

Francesca supports Diageo's central functions in designing on-trade strategy and tools. She also guides and coordinates her 85-strong team in executing them, and meets with customers regularly to address and resolve any challenges and issues that arise. For Francesca, sales are at the heart of Diageo: everything people do in Diageo is ultimately aimed at selling its iconic products. The Sales team is pivotal to turning Diageo's strategy into reality and achieving its goals. Without sales, strategies would only exist on paper. "Being in Sales means translating our strategies into actions. Sales teams are the face of the business to the external world," explains Francesca. "If Diageo was a football team, sales teams would represent the strikers that must score the goal for the whole team to win."

Changing times and subsequent opportunities

"In Italy, trades and careers have changed significantly in the past decade," explains Francesca. "For example, the bartending profession in the past was often a second occupation while nowadays bartending has become a profession by choice rather than necessity. It includes specialized education and subsequently the quality of the drinks - and the spirits used to make them - has risen in popularity and prestige. This constitutes a massive opportunity for selling Diageo’s outstanding portfolio in Italy. However, competition does not sleep so we need to be more agile and commercial oriented in order to seize the opportunity and beat them," suggests Francesca. She is known as a very responsible, attentive, passionate, collaborative and trustworthy type of person - all relevant qualities for someone working in a commercial role. 

Pursuing a career in sales

For women interested in a career in sales, Francesca explains that sales includes a variety of roles that can allow someone to have significant career breadth and progression that includes outlet developers, account executives, account managers, regional managers, head of channel, and so on. 

There's also no obligation to join sales with previous experience. Francesca didn't have any previous experience, and she found that what really matters is passion and being willing to learn from others and from experience. Other key skills required for a job in sales include strategic thinking, ability to inspire, and clarity in communication.

Embracing results and challenges

What Francesca loves most about her role is seeing results from her teams translated into market share and sales growth. Yet, the most challenging aspect of Francesca's role is to coordinate conflicting tasks coming from the different functions. Francesca cites an interesting example such as when her team needs to grow volume sold while increasing prices, decreasing customer payment terms and minimising logistic costs.

Diageo has an inclusive work culture

Francesca certainly encourages women to apply for a sales career because "Diageo is very open in giving people opportunities to move roles as long as they show entrepreneurial spirit, passion, ownership and desire to grow and deliver results," says Francesca. Diageo's work culture is informal, collaborative and results-oriented: all functions are required to work together to achieve common objectives. "Speaking up and being direct is generally appreciated as long as it is done with a constructive approach and valuing each other," adds Francesca. "Different views are considered to enrich the conversation, which is why diversity has become such an important agenda in Diageo."  And Diageo's focus on diversity means that in Francesca's career, gender has never been a limiting factor. "I have never felt discriminated and I hope I have never been favoured either because of the fact that I am a woman. Being a man or woman doesn't matter - what really matters are capabilities. In my opinion that’s true gender equality."

Francesca shares her best piece of career advice: "Many years ago I received a very tempting career opportunity but there were some risks in taking it compared to the job I already had. On that occasion someone told me “don’t let what you have, hold you back from what you want”. I ended up accepting the job offer and it turned out to be one of the best career decisions I ever made."

Meet Angela Lanzolla, a National Account Manager for Diageo 

Diageo's Angela Lanzolla is in sales

Working for a global leader like Diageo means that Angela gets to be innovative while seizing opportunities in mature and constantly evolving markets. For Angela, sales is the central function that connects Diageo with its consumers and requires support from all of Diageo's functions. Angela's career has progressed, working across many different functions and this has provided her with a strong and authentic understanding of the different areas and how they all fit together

“We are Diageo. I work with passion and I’m proud of what I do. We are the face of Diageo to our customer and we work hard to be recognized as a leading company - not only in our own market,” explains Angela. “Every step brings me closer and closer to my sales goals. Every bottle we sell, every cocktail we suggest, every particular execution we make on the outlets brings us closer to our results as a company. My job is only a small piece of the big puzzle, but I think every single customer, every idea, every function and every person inside Diageo is important.” Angela’s next ambition is to move to a further channel of sales within Diageo and enrich her experience through people management responsibilities.

Collaborating with customers and colleagues

Angela's role requires excellent planning skills and an ability to be flexible when responding to last-minute meetings, calls, delays, out-of-stock products and many other kinds of issues. Angela always needs to be connected to the field and customers in order to discover new opportunities. Angela explains that it's necessary to be goal-driven, customer-focused and able to build good relationships. It's this collaborative relationship with Diageo's customers that Angela suggests is the most interesting aspect of her work. “Every strategy comes from an understanding of customer needs, so it's always very customer-focused. Every achievement is a common achievement, and I love to collaborate with my customers to find new opportunities and a different way to communicate with our consumers,” says Angela who enjoys collaborating with her colleagues across the functions. “Sales is a central function but it needs all the support from the other functions to reach its objectives. We all need to work as one big family.”

Diageo celebrates life

Angela believes strongly in Diageo's purpose: “Celebrating life, every day, everywhere”. At Diageo, everyone has the opportunity to develop, grow and work with talented people who are passionate in what they do. Angela chose to work for Diageo for because she appreciated their willingness to search widely for talent. She also values that there are many women working across functions in the company. “Working for Diageo means working for a leading company in which every woman can contribute and express herself” suggests Angela.

Throughout her career, Angela has always sought out challenges. “In my life I've never stopped and have always grasped challenges. I've developed courage and audacity through changing cities, business sectors, functions and companies - all to enrich myself personally and professionally. I believe in myself and always try to look at life with optimism and determination. Sometimes I win, sometimes I learn.”

Outside of work, Angela is a person with many interests as she likes to test herself and try new things - be it culinary dishes, challenging activities or visiting new cities and enjoying travel. "I can't stand still. My journeys over the years have taken me to discover places like Asia, America and Africa. What you learn during travel, you don't learn anywhere else. And, when you travel abroad, you get to taste amazingly different spirit and cocktails of course!"

Meet Simona Crudo, an Account Executive for Diageo

Diageo's Simona is in sales

“To work in sales, experience is important, but attitude is fundamental,” declares Simona who helps create promotional campaigns, manages colleagues and focuses on achieving her sales targets. Simona explains that in Italy there are many different channel distributions and there are a lot of opportunities to progress in sales.

The start of an exciting career

While still studying at University, Simona gained experience in promotion as a shopping assistant. “Naturally my first aim was to sell, sell and sell,” says Simona. Following University, Simona worked in Marketing as a Product or Brand Manager then secured a job where soon her true persuasive nature emerged. “I was able to convince people to do what I want so I decided to follow my personality and start a career in sales,” says Simona.

Connecting with customers and meeting targets

Simona works in Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) where products change quickly and there are many competitors and lots of products. Understanding consumer behaviour is also key. “In sales you know your final destination but you have to build the route to achieve it,” suggests Simona. “You have to work with entrepreneurial spirit and be very organized. Your success is based on your planning, resourcefulness and awareness.”

According to Simona although sales targets can be challenging, they're often a key reason people choose to work in sales. “Targets can be difficult and sometimes you think they're impossible, but they're the part of my role I like the most. You have to believe strongly in yourself and in what you do. If you don’t believe in yourself, no target is possible.” For women looking to apply for sales jobs in Diageo, Simona suggests that the most valued qualities are determination and a will to win. “You need to be able to successfully influence Diageo customers to achieve your win / win outcomes. You need to get up every day with a goal of beating your pre-defined targets,” says Simona.

Always learning and improving

Simona says that people who work for Diageo are passionate about customers and consumers and every day they look for new ways for Diageo to be the best. Diageo's people work as a team and are always learning and improving. “They constantly set high standards and then try hard to exceed them,” explains Simona. “In Diageo, each person contributes to the company's success through new ideas or processes, so you always feel you're part of the big picture.”

Balancing work and lifestyle

Simona has many exciting interests. "I love reading and cannot live without a book to read. I'm also very sporty, so I get up early every morning and go to the gym and do yoga, pilates or swimming," says Simona. "And I really like traveling and visiting non-conventional places where I usually hang around with my paper-map and enjoy walking around sightseeing."

Lots of reading, exercise ... and a fabulous career! Life sounds brilliant for Simona.

Secure your own brilliant commercial role with Diageo

Search and apply for a fabulous commercial career with top employer Diageo where women feel truly challenged and supported in their careers.

Exciting work, iconic brands, friendly teams and an excellent work culture - why delay! 

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