Account Manager Leanne Stout has been with Coveris for eight years and was recently recognised by the management team with an outstanding contribution award. Find out how the Labels and Board Talent Pool initiative helped Leanne progress from an internal sales role to managing one of Coveris’ largest key accounts in the UK.
What made you choose Coveris as an employer?
Way back in 2010 the site in Cramlington was part of Paragon Print and Packaging and if my memory serves me right the World Cup was on. I was working at a building society at the time and was at a friend’s house who worked at Paragon as a Customer Service Executive, watching the football and probably complaining about my job. It was suggested that I apply for a vacancy at the Cramlington office. I guessed it was because my friend was fed up of me moaning; I applied, had an interview and became part of ‘Team Cramlington’.
What has made you stay with the company for so long?
I think this is a general consensus but the people that work for this company are of a different calibre. I’ve worked for the company for almost nine years and can honestly say I wouldn’t have been here so long if it wasn’t for those people. The first six years I spent in the Cramlington office (shout out to the office!) and the people in there really do mean a lot to me.
Taking on the account manager role was actually quite daunting, leaving my comfort zone and being tasked with a lot of responsibility; mainly not to mess up a key account (no pressure). There have been some challenging moments over the last few years but I’ve received no end of help and support from people throughout the business. From my peers, Customer Service Executives, production, commercial, gaffer’s (aka those in a more senior role for those that require a Geordie translation), technical… the list goes on. All of those have made such a difference and made the stressful times that little bit easier.
How did you become involved with the Talent Pool in the Labels and Board division?
The company devised a new initiative with potential for career progression at the end; it was designed to provide an insight into the day to day role of account management before applying for the job. It was something that interested me, so I put my name down and was given the opportunity to become part of the talent pool.
How did this opportunity prepare you for career in account management?
As part of the Talent Pool initiative we shadowed Account Managers and attended meetings with customers; this allowed us to experience some of the travel that’s involved, along with highlighting the challenges that arise during conversations with customers. We also had visits to various Coveris label production sites for material and production education. It all helped to provide additional knowledge and manage expectations of what the role entails.
Has your experience working as a Customer Service Executive been useful in the Account Manager role?
Yes, previously working as a CSE gave me experience at building relationships with customers, it also encouraged me to be organised and pay attention to detail, but from a system perspective this has been a godsend as being able to use the systems has been very helpful at times.
What are the main differences between your role in internal sales compared to your role as an Account Manager?
I feel a much stronger sense of responsibility and the role is more demanding. The volume of information I need to know and remember has significantly increased and the level of detail is greater than when I was a CSE. The number of people I work with both internally and externally has increased tenfold which has its challenges as there are different priorities and personalities, but I definitely prefer to deal with people face to face, rather than over the phone.
Has the increased focus on sustainability in packaging affected your role and responsibilities?
Yes, the latter half of 2018 I spent working on multiple sustainability and seasonal projects, and with both Coveris and my key account signatories of the UK Plastics Pact, there is greater demand for recyclable solutions in different formats.
What do you enjoy about working at Coveris?
I love the people and really enjoy my job and the accounts I work with. There’s a great support network and most of our work is the result of a collaborative team effort.
What are the biggest challenges of working in the packaging industry?
Working in food packaging is very fast-paced and time conscious; there’s a lot of seasonality and as much as we try to forecast, you always have to be prepared for the unexpected. We also have sustainability and consumers to think about, so it’s very diverse.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about joining the Coveris team?
Working for Coveris has its challenges and you need to be prepared to work hard, but it’s very rewarding.