Special Anniversary Spotlight: Leaders of the future

To guarantee the future of our industry, we need to attract – and retain – talent from the younger generation. Judging by OPI’s straw poll, there are plenty of promising candidates.

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In this issue, we spoke to some ‘legends’ of our industry (see Interviews with Steve Haworth and Cezary Monko), who have shared OPI’s journey over the past three decades. Then there’s our annual Top 100 listing the core personalities – globally – in our sector.

In the following pages, we shine the spotlight on future stars – those born in these 30 years we’re celebrating who, in their early careers, have impressed their employers and the wider industry with their considerable talents.

Whatever channel they work in and whether they are front-end customer-facing or back-end support in their current roles, the future of these individuals looks bright, thanks to innovative, fresh perspectives, outstanding can-do attitudes and sheer hard work. And who knows, maybe some of them will be OP legends when OPI celebrates 40, 50 or 60 years.

Manufacturers

James Dibou, Brand Manager, ACCO Brands Australia

James Dibou has been part of the ACCO Brands family in Australasia for nearly five years. In that time, he has driven the technology channel to become an increasingly large portion of the company’s revenues.

Dibou has used his excellent marketing skillset to enhance ACCO’s Kensington brand to achieve significant growth year on year. This, combined with his passion, integrity and drive, has seen him nominated for numerous internal performance recognition awards culminating in the ACCO Brands Australia and New Zealand Employee of the Year in 2019.

Barbora Dočkalová, Junior Product Sustainability Manager, Mondi Group

Barbora Dočkalová joined Mondi in March 2020 with a passion to build a sustainable future and the desire to make an impact. Originally from Slovakia, her studies and work experience took her to Mondi in Vienna, Austria.

Despite onboarding her during the height of the coronavirus crisis, Dočkalová quickly got involved in all aspects of marketing such as project and brand management, developing customer journeys, holding webinars and building external partnerships.

Throughout her traineeship, the topic of sustainability has been at the heart of many of her responsibilities. Dočkalová started her new role as Junior Product Sustainability Manager in June 2021. Her enthusiasm and hard work has already made her a highly valued team member.

Lois Harris, Technical Buyer, Bisley

Lois Harris started at Bisley in a four-year product design apprenticeship. She graduated from her BEng Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering apprenticeship degree course with First-Class Honours.

Harris is now a Technical Buyer within the vendor’s procurement department due to her knowledge of innovative products and her excellent relationship with Bisley’s suppliers. She still supports the design process and is the technical link for many of Bisley’s customers.

Technical Director Paul Ostrolenk says: “Lois is a quiet, well-spoken and unassuming individual, but this belies her steely determination and commitment to succeed. We hope that her positive attitude and dedication to her job has paved the way for more female apprentices to follow in her exemplary footsteps. We see a very bright future ahead for her.”

Lisa Hölzl, Product Manager, COLOP Digital

Another young recruit in the vendor community is Lisa Hölzl at COLOP Digital. When she joined the Austrian stamping manufacturer in 2018, she wrote her Masters dissertation on the topic of the Development of a new
sales concept by a market incumbent like COLOP
.

Hölzl currently works in the product management team of COLOP Digital. As Head of International Sales & Marketing Franz Ratzenberger comments: “We are happy to have a Generation Y woman as part of our team, especially in what is often a very traditional sector.”

Margaux Lefaucheux, European Account Manager, AF International

AF International’s European Account Manager Margaux Lefaucheux is responsible for all of the company’s private label accounts outside the UK (where she is based), except for the German-speaking territories.

Despite this expanded role – she was promoted at the beginning of this year – and an additional workload, her keen eye for detail remains as sharp as ever. Group Marketing Manager Julia Vorley describes Lefaucheux as “innovative, tenacious and adored by her customers for her hard work”.

If the name sounds familiar, Lefaucheux was shortlisted for the Young Executive of the Year award at OPI’s 2019 European Office Products Awards.

Jérôme Perhaut, Key Account Manager, Fellowes Brands France

Jérôme Perhaut joined Fellowes Brands France as a trainee in 2015, having graduated from EM Normandy International Business School.

During his time at the vendor, Perhaut has worked in a number of roles, from field sales representative within the air treatment business, to successfully developing Fellowes’ core as well as non-core categories (for more on Perhaut and his views on our industry, read Final Word).

Lea Scheidig, Consumer & Market Insights Manager, Stabilo

Lea Scheidig began her Stabilo career three years ago as a workplace student in the R&D department. Here, she learned what customer centricity means for the writing instruments manufacturer – strong consumer integration into its product innovation process, for example, through face-to-face interviews or focus groups.

The journey began in Europe but soon extended to China. In order to excel at  this challenging task of an intercultural transfer process – especially between two cultures which could not be more different from each other – Scheidig dedicated her Masters thesis to the topic, driven by a passionate focus on the manufacturer’s consumers.

She has been working for about a year as Stabilo’s Consumer & Market Insights Manager for the Chinese market, acting as a mouthpiece for its Chinese consumers in all areas of product development.

Dealer groups

Annalise Engledow, National Marketing Coordinator, Office Choice

Annalise Engledow has been with Australia’s Office Choice for two years and in that time has become a vital member of the dealer group’s marketing department. As National Marketing Coordinator, she has played a key role in the delivery of its comprehensive strategy in this area, which includes national and digital marketing programmes.

Engledow manages the content creation for Office Choice’s social media channels and all member-based email communications. Last year, an opportunity presented itself for Engledow to study in Europe, so she moved from Australia to Spain. What was intended as a limited period, due to COVID-19, has turned into an ongoing uncertainty. She currently resides in Sweden, waiting to be able to travel home.

But during the entire time away, she has continued to work for Office Choice remotely, supporting members as well as staff, and driving the marketing efforts of the business.

Most recently, her work was validated by the dealer group’s brand recall market research which showed a significant increase in SME brand recognition and usage.   

Jacob Morgan, Senior Digital Marketer, Office Friendly

Fresh from completing his Business Studies degree, Jacob Morgan joined UK dealer group Office Friendly in 2016 as Marketing Coordinator of its KascAid team. He brought with him qualifications in digital marketing, web design, social media management and economics.

Over the past five years, Morgan has honed these skills and enhanced his knowledge specifically in the digital marketing arena of the office products sector. He is constantly working with the group’s members to develop comprehensive marketing strategies, helping them to maximise their brand exposure, generate leads and convert sales online.

He specialises in website design and build, e-commerce management, SEO, integration projects and omnichannel marketing solutions, all of which he implements on behalf of dealers.

Morgan was recently promoted to Senior Digital Marketer. In this role, he takes the lead on projects and continues to work with members to enhance their online presence.

Edgars Ozolins, Website Builder, Nemo Office Club

Recognising the acceleration in demand for a wide range of online support for its members, Nemo Office Club earlier this year recruited Latvian-born web expert Edgars Ozolins.

With an Economics degree from De Montfort University, Ozolins went on to study Google Analytics, with the idea of forging ahead with a career in e-commerce and front-end web development.

The expertise he brings to the UK dealer group has had an immediate impact on improving the functionality and optimisation of members’ existing sites.

Responsible for 80+ individual WordPress sites, as well as the development and SEO support for other e-commerce solutions, Ozolins’ contribution has enabled Nemo Office Club to not just provide well-designed websites for dealers, but create real ROI.

Ozolins is also part of the Office Circle management team, which includes representatives from strategic multimedia professionals TMWI, and has a remit of delivering an effective and streamlined national website with over 30,000 SKUs.

Alex Stone, Head of Sales, Office Friendly

Alex Stone is another individual who joined the Office Friendly KascAid team straight after university. First starting as a marketing apprentice, he quickly moved across to the business development team where he has consistently demonstrated determination and dedication to his role.

He has helped members to see the value in Office Friendly’s proposition and manages over 50 of them, developing their businesses and ensuring their success in a rapidly changing market.

As a young person, Stone has had to work especially hard to gain the trust and respect of his senior industry peers. He’s certainly achieved that, increasingly being adopted as a business mentor by many of the group’s members.

His outstanding performance and attitude were most recently recognised with the promotion to the position of Head of Sales – incidentally coinciding with his seven-year anniversary at the dealer group.

Wholesalers

Niek Derks, European Product Manager, ALSO International

Niek Derks is a very recent addition to our industry, having joined ALSO International in January of this year. Derks, as European Product Manager, is part of the wholesaler’s vendor management team.

Despite working full time from home, he has very quickly become the go-to person for all things digital. In his first month in the job, he created several world-class tools for his department which have since been widely used across the company.

Derks’ communication and analytics skills, desire to understand the business and increase his knowledge all bode well for a future leadership position.

Saffron Fox, Customer Services Assistant, JGBM

Starting at JGBM in a temporary position to cover maternity leave, Saffron Fox works in the returns department at the wholesaler and after a year was offered a full-time position. In that first year, she impressed by converting the customer usage of JGBM’s online returns system from 61% to 98%.

Paula Kastrouni, Sales Manager, Westcoast

Paula Kastrouni has quickly moved through the ranks at UK wholesaler Westcoast, having started as a teenager in 2014 selling products to a range of different resellers. Over time, she has become what Managing Director Alex Tatham describes as “one of the company’s leading sales managers – dedicated to her team, customers and Westcoast itself”.

Laura Verbunt, Brother Labelling Manager, JGBM

Brother Labelling Manager at JGBM, Laura Verbunt moved to the UK from the Netherlands last year and started her role at the wholesaler in April 2021.

In just a few months, her tenacity and drive have resulted in the positive re-organisation of her department, added customers and growing revenues.

Verbunt is currently designing and developing a Brother labelling portal website for customers to use as downloadable content while also writing scripts for the wholesaler’s in-house filmed video content.

Resellers

Antoine-Louis Cloquet, Franchise General Manager, Bureau Vallée

Antoine-Louis Cloquet became the youngest-ever store manager at France-based Bureau Vallée when his father Bernard opened his second store in Saint Dié in the Vosges region in 2012. Having spent a year in Belgium and Luxembourg in some of the group’s other franchised retail locations, he returned to Saint Dié, allowing Bernard to spend more time in his group role as Director of International Development.

In 2019, Antoine-Louis bought the family business and now manages a total of five franchised stores, with total revenues of €5 million ($5.9 million) and 19 employees. 

Kelly Doepker, Interior Designer, FriendsOffice

Kelly Doepker is a very recent recruit at FriendsOffice, having graduated from Ohio State University earlier this year. She has clearly hit the road running and impressed not only her immediate design colleagues, but the dealer’s management as well, all in a short period of time.

Working efficiently and conscientiously  on her own as well as with her team – for example on the new CET design program from HON – she is a fast learner, improving her skills, while also helping existing staff members hone theirs. 

Rollin Guernsey, System Engineer, Guernsey

Guernsey is a well-known name in the US business supplies space, most notably so for its founder and CEO David Guernsey. But his nephew Rollin has certainly proved his mettle in the dealership too.

Having started in the warehouse doing jobs nobody else wanted to do during school holidays at the tender age of 15, he moved into the IT department where he developed a pick-to-voice system in 2012 as a third-year student at the University of Virginia. He became a full-timer in 2014 following graduation.

The dealership uses the Microsoft Dynamics (DAX) ERP system where Guernsey is currently the lead developer; it’s a back-end system replete with customisation that he has written to improve performance.

The independent dealer’s front-end is also predominantly customised by this IT expert who has quite literally written thousands and thousands of lines of code that positively impact staff, customers and even other dealers – all the way from expanding operational performance to online excellence.

Perrine Isenberg, Marketing Assistant, Lacoste Dactyl Bureau & École

Perrine Isenberg is Marketing Assistant at Lacoste-Dactyl Bureau & École, France’s largest independent dealer since its merger in 2018.

According to Managing Director Laurent Bertrand, she has done an excellent job in helping to produce the company’s new range of catalogues that are very much based on a ‘multi-local’ culture and were developed in the middle of the pandemic.

Isenberg’s capacity to remain calm under pressure and her incredible work rate contributed to a smooth process in what was a challenging time at Lacoste Dactyl Bureau & École.

Hunter Jordan, Sales Director, Herald Office Solutions

Hunter Jordan began working in Herald Office Solutions’ Interiors division in 2014. Over the past several years, he has helped this part of the US dealership almost double in sales, with his own contribution consistently placing him in the top two sales reps of the company.

Jordan currently has the  role of Sales Director over three divisions – Business Products, Interiors, and Office Equipment – while still maintaining his own book of business. He has served on the Furniture Committee for ISG and worked on advisory councils for various industry vendors.

Joëlline Jouannin, Purchasing Executive, Lacoste Dactyl Bureau & École

Joëlline Jouannin has been part of the procurement team at France-based independent reseller Lacoste Dactyl Bureau & École since the end of 2019.  She has been on a mission to satisfy customer demands and secure product availability in what has been a very difficult period – in terms of first the company’s merger and then COVID-19.

Falko Nils Köhler, Customer Experience Director, Lyreco Germany

Working for Lyreco in the German market, Falko Nils Köhler has been with the France-based global business supplies reseller for five years.

In his role as Customer Experience Director, he was tasked to develop and implement a holistic digital transformation concept in Germany that includes a highly participative approach. From more transparency and digital awareness to a strategic mindset of customer centricity, Köhler has succeeded in overseeing a major cultural shift for the company in this challenging market.

He is currently building an entirely new organisation based on the strategy to help Lyreco home in on this customer focus and reinforce the capacity to deliver best-in-class customer value.

Katarina Kollarova, Marketing Content Specialist, Lyreco

Another Lyreco employee, Katarina Kollarova joined the reseller following her graduation in International Business Studies in 2018. She quickly stood out with her excellent communication skills, drive and reliability.

Last year, Kollarova was promoted to Marketing Content Specialist in the CASH (Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary) region with a particular focus on social media communication. She is highly regarded for her pioneering approach and all-round business acumen.

Kelvin Mak, Assistant Manager, Supply Chain Excellence, Lyreco Hong Kong

Lyreco’s third employee with great promise in these pages is Hong Kong-based Kelvin Mak.

Following graduation, Mak spent the first three years of his career as Assistant Planner at Hong Kong International Terminals, one of the largest container operators in the world. It certainly provided him with a solid foundation in managing sophisticated logistics operations. This was followed by positions at several other haulage  firms.

His tenure at Lyreco is still relatively short, having only started last year. But during this time, he’s proved to be an agile and capable professional who has helped the reseller overcome many pandemic-related challenges. He’s also thrived on leading Lyreco’s digital transformation initiatives in Hong Kong.

Bayley Mifsud, Indigenous Engagement Lead, Officeworks

Since joining Officeworks in 2020 as Indigenous Engagement Lead, Bayley Mifsud has been responsible for recruiting 272 new indigenous team members, which is a 3.8% representation of the reseller’s workforce – incidentally the highest within the Wesfarmers Group based on percentage representation.

Rather than ‘merely’ recruiting employees, Mifsud has been a key driver in retaining them with a wide range of initiatives. These include: cultural awareness training which was completed by 99.8% of team members and is now mandatory for all new starters; forming relationships with store leadership teams to educate them about the importance of indigenous employment and how to manage it in an appropriate way; support in the development and exaction of a number of events for team members to celebrate key indigenous events throughout the year.

Mifsud is also a talented indigenous artist and has been the lead designer in the creation of artwork to be showcased in Officeworks’ new Indigenous Art Otto private label range which is due to launch later this year.

Megan Rossi, Furniture Designer, Friends Office

As Furniture Designer at FriendsOffice, Megan Rossi has been instrumental in closing a number of large furniture projects for the dealer. Having joined the Ohio-based independent in 2015, she has redesigned several of FriendsOffice’s furniture showrooms and put together programmes and selling tools for the sales team.

She’s assisted large universities and healthcare organisations with standards programmes, and led the design initiatives of historic buildings turned into downtown workspaces or entertainment spaces for local banks.

Rossi is a mother of three young children and has been through a very tough time in her personal life most recently, but that hasn’t stopped her from always putting the customer first in her job, according to CEO Ken Schroeder.

Max Smith, Account Executive, Innovative Office Solutions

Max Smith grew up in the office supplies industry and is part of the third generation of the Innovative Office Solutions family business. Son of Jennifer and Brooks Smith, he has been immersed in this customer-centric dealership for over ten years, thriving on connecting with others and building authentic relationships with customers.

He uses his in-depth knowledge of cross-category solutions to uncover client pain points and challenges, and maximises these insights to set them up for future success.

Smith has also long been involved in philanthropic community efforts. In 2013, while at Concordia College, he founded the InSports Foundation, a non-profit organisation with a mission to help kids participate in sports. The foundation has since impacted over 44,000 children throughout the Midwest by providing free camps and financial assistance – and to help them stay in the game.

Trevor Wist, Procurement Officer, Wist Business Supplies & Equipment

Trevor Wist has worked in various roles at Wist Business Supplies & Equipment throughout his degree course at Arizona State University. Upon graduation in 2018, he began full-time employment in the family’s dealership, with a focus on growing the ad specialities category.

Sourcing, specification, procurement, and fulfilment of this niche vertical are some of Wist’s current duties, but he’s keen to learn more about the entire channel as his career continues.

Software providers

Oliver Rowles, Customer Care Manager, Prima Software

Oliver Rowles joined Prima Software in 2014. Over the past seven years, he has worked his way through the customer care department to become the company’s UK & Ireland Account Manager. Recently, he was promoted to the position of Customer Care Manager, reporting directly to the board.

During his time with Prima, Rowles has also achieved IT & Telecoms Level 2 & 3 qualifications and last year the ILM Team Leader Level 3 qualification.

He regularly organises and hosts customer user group meetings, webinars and training events, taking full responsibility for all content and delivery.

His greatest strength, other than a great understanding of reseller operations and the channel, is an ability to form relationships with all of Prima’s clients. He listens with empathy before applying his excellent knowledge to always deliver the best solution possible to customers.

Rowles is also a shining example to those around him, making him the perfect fit to excel in his current role as part of which he line-manages six other customer care consultants.

Joseph Thomas, Client Onboarding Manager, Prima Software

Joseph Thomas has spent all his professional life at Prima Software and started as an apprentice in the company 11 years ago. He’s now a trusted member of the management team and also reports directly to the board of directors.

Having worked in the customer care department for several years, his technical knowledge and communication skills defined his next role as a Client Onboarder, managing new customers moving to Prima from their incumbent system.

Thomas became so accomplished in this position that he was then promoted to manage the team of client onboarders.

During his time with Prima, Thomas has also continued to study hard to add to his qualifications, and amassed a variety of diplomas in a range of IT applications. He always leads by example and has incredible enthusiasm to face any task.

Ones to watch…

When OPI canvassed opinion for this list of up-and-coming professionals in the business supplies space, the response was delightfully comprehensive and wide-ranging. Although busting the 30 limit, here are a few more impressive individuals from three organisations who deserve a special mention. 

Bureau Vallée, France

  • Valentin Satta, Country Manager Belgium

Lacoste Dactyl Bureau & École, France

  • Valentin Bachelier, Programming Analyst
  • Morgane Morin, Deputy Manager – Customer Sales Services
  • Romain Ruffaud, Logistics Manager

JGBM, UK

  • Liam Forbes, Warehouse Operative
  • Amy Fox, Sales Admin Assistant
  • Matt Rogers, Warehouse Operative