Honza, Head of Commercial Planning & Execution, Nestlé UK
It's been a very interesting journey getting to where I am now. After graduating in Macroeconomics, I started my career at Unilever in the Czech Republic, where I became a CIMA Chartered before working as a Factory Accountant for six months. I was then seconded for six months to India to undertake assignments in Chandigarh and Mumbai.
After that unforgettable time away, I decided I wanted to broaden my skills base by getting hands-on experience of leadership and client interaction. So I went back to the Czech Republic where I took on the position of Communications Manager for Home & Personal Care at Unilever. Following my success in this position, I became a Key Account Controller for two years, during which time I built on my commercial and customer relationships skills exponentially.
By Summer 2005, I was ready for another challenge, so I applied for the position of Head of Sales for Nestlé's Chilled Dairy division. This seemed perfect for me, as I knew at the time that I wanted to move on to another international business, but also wanted to stay in the FMCG sector.
As soon as I got the job, I realised that I'd made the right decision. Nestlé gave me the freedom and business exposure to enhance my career and have a broad strategic impact right from the get-go. The drive towards being more externally-oriented and to create relationships with key customers and industry-influencing organisations inspired me to new heights in my work. On the other hand, I also really appreciated the friendly culture and open, non-hierarchical environment which I found at Nestlé. This encourages everyone to share their knowledge of the business and ways of working, irrespective of what function they sit within.
The other great thing about Nestlé was that I was given the opportunity to move around quickly within the business in order to create the kind of career I wanted. This culminated in my becoming Head of Corporate Customer Marketing, where I'm responsible for strategy planning and capability planning for Nestlé's Food and Confectionery and PetCare lines.
On a day to day basis, this involves using my insight and that of my team to answer challenging strategic questions such as whether convenience stores will outsell other retailers in the current economic climate. I'll then assess how these trends will impact our brands and then feed out these insights to the rest of Customer Marketing. They'll then use that information to create and sell in commercial marketing plans that optimise our presence with retailers, fulfilling both their and our commercial needs.
It's the perfect role for someone who, like me, enjoys combining fact-based market knowledge with an intuitive appreciation of our customers' needs. I get to use all my skills in Finance and Sales as well as the creativity required to work with such fantastic, global brands. Add in the fact that I know I'll always have the freedom to move around the business and try new challenges, and you can see why Nestlé is the perfect place for me to build my career.