In November last year, Micaela Abbott was appointed as National Account Manager for leading low-energy lighting manufacturer, Megaman, after more than 11 years with the company. PEW has spoken to Micaela to find out more about her career and her view on the industry.
Q. Hello Micaela, can you start by telling us a bit about your background and how you became involved with Megaman?
A. When I left school, I started my career with local manufacturer Rewires Devon Limited (RDL) as a Sales Junior, however, I quickly progressed to Sales Administrator and then Sales Office Manager at the company, all in under a year – which got me noticed.
I then moved with a colleague to Stearn, again as a Sales Office Manager, where I gained a real grasp of the sales role and found myself being approached by a number of manufactures who wanted me to come on board with them. In the end I took a leap into a completely different industry and chose a Sales Development Manager role with Carlsberg.
I was the company’s youngest ever recruit and the gruelling 20-week sales programme taught me lot about sales – I still refer back to it now. However, after a while, I couldn’t resist returning to my roots and after a short stint with a national electrical merchant I was headhunted by Megaman who seemed to me to be an exciting, up-and-coming brand and I joined the company with open arms, excited to get started.
Q. After 11 years with Megaman, it is clear you are very passionate about the company and the industry, how do you plan to bring that passion to your new role?
A. I was once told by a customer that they were sure I had Megaman-blue blood and that has stuck with me as proof that my passion for Megaman is tangible. I want to use and spread that passion to help to create the strongest sales team we have ever had, as well as providing the right support for the team which in turn will enable them to carry out their current roles.
Q. What is the significance of your role and the role of your BDMs for wholesalers and suppliers?
A. Our Business Development Managers are the face of the company in their individual locations across the country. They are the ones driving the Megaman message with regards to new products and what we can do for our suppliers and Megaman wouldn’t survive without them. However, BDMs cannot facilitate National Managers and accounts as national customers have different needs to local accounts. My role is to provide a bridge of communication between individual branch locations and the regional and head offices to create more opportunity for companies to interface with us and generate further business.
Q. Apart from supporting the BDM’s what else do you hope to achieve as National Accounts Manager for Megaman?
A. At the heart of Megaman is cost-effective, LED lamp technology and that will always be our key sales focus, but getting the industry to recognise our movement into the fixture and smart home market is also important. There is so much we can bring to our customers who often do not realise the full extent of the products and services we provide, although they are excited to interact with us and learn more. Our dedication to educating and generating sales through our wholesale network, to me, shows our innovative approach to the market.
This industry has always been driven by relationships and I thrive on developing strong relationships with my customers. My purpose now is to build bridges on a national level, as opposed to the local relationships developed by our BDMs, in order to better service and develop our larger national accounts. As Business Development Manager for the south west my name has become synonymous with the brand and I hope to continue that at a national level.
Q. So, who is looking after your old region as Business Development Manager for the south west?
A. Karen Jenkins is our new Business Development Manager in the south west and she is fantastic. Leaving my old accounts was really tough and I will miss the company of the wholesalers I worked with. As such, I was really passionate that my replacement would be able to pick up where I left off. I had worked with Karen in my first role with RDL, we cut our cloth together in the early days so I knew she would be perfect for the role.
Q. What do you think is the most important issue for wholesalers and the industry at the moment?
A. I believe that at the moment there is a serious preoccupation with price. While price is a big factor, it is not the only factor and I believe wholesalers need to recognise that the lowest priced product does not always provide a customer with the best overall service. From an audience perspective, many contractors and project managers would rather have the reassurance and support of a strong brand than the cheapest alternative with no aftercare. To me that is worth more.
Q. Is there anything you would like to comment on with regards to the topic of women in the industry?
A. I honestly don’t see myself as a woman in a man’s world. In the early days I did have to prove that my passion was as strong as my male peers and to do that I made sure I knew my trade inside out. Now I don’t see my gender as a help or a hinderance and I believe people should be considered equally, regardless of their gender, for their passion and their drive.