Let me sketch out some of the things I have done that have led to my becoming a trainer for commercial people in an industrial B2B environment.
Born in London to British and German parents, I grew up in Cyprus, Italy and Belgium, picking up some of the languages along the way. I was just getting my head round Greek and Turkish when we moved to Italy, but I was there long enough to get a grasp of Italian. Then off to Belgium, where French and Dutch were all around me, so I learned those as well. So by the time I was ready to go to University, I spoke 5 European languages.
I went to study at Imperial College, London in 1983 ending up with a PhD in Nuclear Physics applied to Materials Science questions from an Engineering faculty some 7 seven years later. Not the greatest indicator for what I do now, you will probably be thinking, but the mix of disciplines has actually made it easier for me to discuss with people from most scientific areas, which in industry tends to mean chemists, engineers and occasionally pharmacists.
My first job was at a Shell Chemicals research centre just outside Brussels. After 4 years the Director very gently pointed out to me that I was perhaps not their greatest researcher but I seemed to have a gift for communication and the first signs of a commercial ability, so did I fancy going over to the business side of petrochemicals? Why ever not. So I spent 3 years managing production, logistics and sale of olefins and aromatics from a base in Chester U.K., which was a great introduction to the world of B2B.
I then joined Van Leer, a global industrial and consumer packaging group to help set up a Marketing function in the U.K. Realising I was a bit out of my depth, I embarked on an MBA with the Open University Business School to get a solid grounding of business skills. Van Leer moved me to Göttingen, Germany to do a similar job for their consumer packaging division, which sounds B2C but is really still very much B2B, as all the customers are the people who fill the packaging, so divisions of Unilever, Nestlé, Kraft and so on. A large benefit for me was working in German all week, which pulled up my German and gave me an insight into the working culture there.
I then spotted an ad in the paper for a "Global Strategic Project Manager", company name withheld, something to do with petrochemicals. In fact my wife spotted it. "That's a great title", she said, "you should go for it." So I did. It turned out to be a joint venture between Shell and BASF, called "Elenac", located in Strasbourg, France. "Strasbourg", we both said, "they can cook. And they make good wines." So I joined a small team that was working on establishing polyolefin manufacturing Joint Ventures with feedstock owners in countries as exotic and diverse as China, India, Trinidad, Iran, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, and Poland. What I brought to the party was my languages, intercultural experience, understanding of logistics of olefins and the resulting plastics. What I got back was a front-line masterclass in negotiations, setting up project financing deals with banks, exposure to many new cultures and settings.
I spent an exciting 12 years working on these projects, interspersed with 2 stints as a Marketing Manager for PE and PP, living through 2 mergers and a Chapter 11 episode. We moved from Strasbourg to Brussels to Milan and finally to Frankfurt. Great for getting my languages up-to-speed! And a bit more cultural awareness too.
During this time, around 2004, I renewed my relationship with the Open University Business School by working as an Associate Lecturer on their Business Studies Bachelor's course and their MBA course. Areas of focus were Finance, Strategy, Innovation and Creativity. Elenac had become Basell, and then LyondellBasell, growing much more US-centric after the Chapter 11 episode, and decided to relocate the projects group to Houston. Our kids were in the latter stages of high school so moving to the U.S. was simply not an option, so I looked for another job in the Frankfurt area.
A major German speciaity chemicals company was looking for a "Global Business Development Director". Now you've probably picked up that we like big titles, so I applied. It turned out that they wanted someone to run projects (tick) in innovative areas (tick) in totally new applications and industries (tick), and intenational experience and languages a definite advantage (tick). I did that for three years and it was some of the toughest cold-calling I have ever been through. Some of my targets had never even heard of our company. If you are familiar with "Blue Ocean Strategy" by Kim and Mauborgne, this was more like freezing cold Arctic icy ocean strategy!
I then got a call from a former colleague, asking whether I wanted to help him set up a "School of Sales", so training for front-line commercial staff. And this is where I hope this story starts to make sense. So for 5 years, I have been designing and delivering training to sales, marketing and customer service staff all over the world, often working with external trainers to make sure we kept up-to-date.
I began to realise that what we need is training that speaks the language of B2B, that uses examples we can all relate to. Where the aim is not to "make that sale" but "build that trust" or "show your value". I offer a portfolio of courses, some of them are quite different and probably not on offer anywhere else. I am also quite happy to tailor content to your needs, so let's discuss what you and your team are trying to achieve and how I can help.
Nehmen Sie Kontakt mit uns auf und informieren Sie sich näher zu unseren Angeboten. Unsere Mitarbeiter helfen Ihnen gerne weiter.