60-second interview

What do you do? Michelle Newman Kliklok International

By Jenny Eagle

- Last updated on GMT

Michelle Newman
Michelle Newman

Related tags Management

As part of FoodProductionDaily’s ongoing series of 60-second interviews with the movers and shakers of the food and beverage industry, we caught up with Michelle Newman, sales administration and marketing manager, Kliklok International.

What do you do?
My sales responsibilities include managing a team of sales co-ordinators, monitoring their work load, job performance, and ensuring efficient running of department. We work as a team to provide customer service and field sales support - producing proposals and order documentation. This involves maintaining good customer and global agent relationships. I ensure each machine project is monitored, managed and executed successfully

My marketing responsibilities include writing and producing literature for the company’s range of machinery and corporate brochures, creating presentations for machinery and packaging, graphic displays for exhibitions, organising and co-ordinating corporate events.
I write regular articles and news items for the company website and ensure product information is updated. I also co-ordinate the company’s participation in exhibitions in UK and abroad, including budgeting, space procurement, machine co-ordination, contracts, staffing, set up /break down.

How did you get into the industry? What’s your background?
I don’t come from a packaging or machinery background. I have learned from ‘the ground up’ since I started with Kliklok 15 years ago. I was appointed for my background in sales administration and sales office management, which I have done all my working life in various industries.  It has taken several years to become knowledgeable about the packaging industry and our products and I am still learning. The marketing side of my job role just ‘evolved’ as when I joined KIiklok there was nobody really taking on that responsibility. So I started writing news articles, press releases, case studies, trying to get our name and products in front of people and gradually developed relationships with various publications within the food, beverage & packaging industry. The role grew from there, and there are new challenges all the time with things like social media and apps as a means of PR which we are just beginning to explore.

What’s the next big event happening at your company and why?
The launch of our wraparound cartoning machine, the Certiwrap Elite, which we are introducing at the PPMA show at the end of September.  This machine is designed to automatically put a carton board ‘sleeve’ around products such as ready meals, dairy pots, bowls either individually or in multi-packs. The machine is capable of handling a range of carton styles and shapes with a range of infeed systems depending on what the product is (frozen, chilled, multiples etc).

What do you like most about your job?
I like the variation of work in my job. My sales responsibilities enable me to liaise with customers and ensure projects are managed successfully from start to finish.  My managerial responsibilities mean I must work closely with my team as well as my colleagues in other departments to ensure the smooth and efficient running of my department. My marketing responsibilities enable me to be creative, and to think of ways to continually promote the company, its expertise and engineering reputation spanning over 50 years. I am always busy, never bored, and I enjoy the challenges my job brings every day. 

What's the hardest thing about your job? ​I manage my workload pretty well, and have to work at a fast pace, but there are sometimes compromises to make when I can’t devote as much time to one particular thing. There are always deadlines to meet and I do take these seriously. I hate letting people down.

Is there such a thing as a typical day for you? If so, what does it look like? ​At the moment things are extremely busy. I am preparing for the PPMA show, so I need to make sure the stand designer has everything he needs in terms of layout, images, colour schemes, and the Certiwrap Elite machine we are launching is working as it should, plus logistics like transport to and from the show. I am also organising our Kliklok Agents conference in October, about 25 of our global agents are coming to Kliklok for a two-day gathering to discuss partnerships, communication, future relationships, working practices, as well as a shop floor tour with ‘teach in’ sessions on all our machinery. In addition I’m making arrangements for a series of ‘Open Days’ at Kliklok, mid October, where existing and potential customers can come and see demonstrations of our equipment.

What advice would you give people interested in a job in your field?
Be flexible, adaptable and willing to learn as the job grows. Never be afraid to ask a ‘stupid’ question. The packaging machinery industry is not ‘glamorous’ but it is extremely interesting and there is so much to absorb if you are pro-active and receptive to continually changing technology and trends. Although packaging is a huge business, and is very competitive, is actually fairly close-knit – everybody seems to know everybody else.

What do you see as the next top trend in five years’ time?
Food ‘on the go’ is becoming a big trend. People have busy lives and ready-made convenience is the key word. Supermarkets are full of everything from microwave lunch snacks to individual dessert pots.  This trend will grow and grow.

Which country do you see as the next big emerging market? Why?
We have noticed an increase in activity from Poland. We have just completed a great project for a major tea company in Poland, supplying three identical cartoning machines, with the prospect of more. We also have an agent who has recently set up an office in Jaworzno, in Southern Poland, to focus on developing business in this country.

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