The week that was...

Wow! I just completed my first week of work and I am physically, mentally and to a certain extent, emotionally exhausted.

I started work officially last Monday and the first thing I wanted was to visit the trade and market. I informed one of my staff and told her to arrange these visits with the sales people. When she showed my itinerary, I was really shocked. She arranged for me to go to two outlets only - Tesco and Carrefour.

What the fuck was she thinking? My brief was very simple: "I want to know all about our trade and market; can you please arrange for me to go with the sales team who cover the different channels respectively? I am dedicating this whole week to going to the filed."

Now which part of wanting "to know all about our trade and market" did she not understand? I told her that I would dedicate the whole week to doing this and all she planned for me was a visit to two outlets? And the same channel at that! What a brainless marketer! *shakes head in disbelief*

Anyway, I called the regional branch office myself and planned with them. I wanted to go to all the channels - Key Accounts, Traditional and Non-Traditional Outlets, Convenience Retail Outlets, Lower Trades, etc. So it was decided that on that day (Monday) I will go to the Key Accounts first, followed by traditional outlets on Tuesday and the rest of the outlets equally distributed on the remaining days.

It was nice and fitting that my first outlet visit is to Giant supermarket in Taman Setiawangsa :) It is my 'hood' and I go there every weekend to play ball and look at the greenery of the place.

When we got there, I was blown away by what I saw! Our products and the POP materials as well as the Shelf Displays were all beautifully arranged. I was like "fucking hey!"... It was really impressive and looked as if it was arranged for a product shoot for some ads; it was really amazing...

But I became suspicious immediately afterwards; what if these people made it a point to do this because they knew I would be visiting the outlet? It would be great if they are indeed arranged perfectly all the time but what doesn't make sense to me was the quality of the POP materials and Shelf Displays, they were too sparkling new to have been there for weeks, as I was told.

Hmmm...

Being the sneaky bastard that I am, I drew small hearts on each and every materials and displays. I wanted to know if they were really there permanently or whether they were recently placed there in anticipation of my visit.

After Setiawangsa, I asked the sales rep who accompanied me where to next. She told me that the next outlet was Carrefour in Wangsa Maju. I told her that we should have lunch first before we proceed and all throughout lunch, she was on the phone talking to someone who was, I sensed, giving her instruction.

After an hour or so in Jumaah, we proceeded to the Carrefour outlet in Wangsa Maju. And like in Giant, everything was looking perfectly great. When I checked closer, my fucking instinct was right! This entire visit was arranged in such a way that I would not see any problems with our whole set-up! They were moving the materials and displays from one outlet to the other... The items that I marked with small hearts in Giant were brought to Carrefour!

Fucking idiots! Did they really think they can fool me?

I told the sales rep to send me back to the office because I wanted to confront the National Sales Manager regarding this trickery. When I got to the office, I summoned him and told him that I do not appreciate being taken for a fool. I don't give a fuck if you have been the NSM for years, what you told your team to do was just downright unprofessional, fucking stupid and idiotic! And I certainly don't give a fuck if I am reprimanding people on my first day of work!

On the 2nd day, I visited the small chain outlets located inside air-conditioned premises: Pharmacies, Convenience shops, etc. The set-up is not as complicated as that of the outlets under the Key Accounts and the fight is really strategically on payment counters.

Having learned from what transpired on Monday, there were no beautifications this time around. I’ve seen what I needed to see and have taken notes on what I think should be done to have a stronger position in the one place that it mattered.

The highlight of the week was, undoubtedly, the visit to our chocolate factory in Chembong. My Brand team arranged for me to meet the people at the factory as well as attend their fortnightly meeting with them. What blew me away was the location of the factory and its surrounding.

Unlike any other factories I have been to, this is set in a very beautiful location, green everywhere. Most factories are very industrialized but this one is like a little inn in the forest; it is surrounded by mountains and rivers that it was truly breathtaking! I wished I didn’t lose my Small Baby’s camera; I could have taken pictures for you all to see how beautiful the factory is.

And inside, I finally saw how chocolates are made! And it was really awesome, save for the stage where they haven’t molded the chocolates into the shapes that we are so accustomed to seeing in the stores today; it reminded me of shit when you have a nasty diarrhea!

Anyways, it was a good week of learning the ropes. I am still not fully knowledgeable about the entire business but I am getting there. Beyond our business unit, I have met a few peeps from the HR department in the smoking area and have enjoyed great conversations with them about the company, the people and some other mundane things.

I also found out that the company is not free from office politics and you have people bitching about other people :) It’s all good though, nothing major, just people voicing out their frustrations…

I met one particular Brand Executive, attached with the Noodles Business Unit, whom I was impressed with; she was ugly as hell but she she carried herself really well with the way she was dressed up. I wondered why my own Brand team were not as sharply dressed as her; my team do not look the part of a Brand Marketer at all, they looked more like those makciks in payroll or something.

The coming week, I will be dedicating my time to my Brand team and I would start with benignly asking them to dress up like Marketers :) We would go over their plans and as a pure Marketer, nothing gives me more pleasure than plotting on how to increase my market share as well as strengthen my Brand in the eyes of the consumers.

In the coming months, I intend to make a difference not only on the Brands that are under our unit but in the overall operations. I truly believe that our Brands can go further and that is what I intend to do.

Cadburry's, you better fucking watch out! LOL

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