Young people – a somewhat vague term in itself, I would argue – are often asked: What, if anything, do you find interesting about our industry? For me, and specifically in my role as Key Account Manager for Fellowes Brands in France, the answer is easy: first the search for and then the provision of concrete solutions to customers. I mean that both from a distribution as well as product perspective.
These solutions and how to offer them have changed, even during my relatively short time in this sector. Digital, for example, does not undermine the fundamentals of marketing and customer service, and I would certainly say that digital awareness and savviness is essential to attracting young talent.
New entrants complement what is often regarded as a very traditional industry – it’s not an either/or situation. Amazon or Bureau Vallée, for instance, have each in their own way changed sales methods and customer relations.
Our sector is not immune to a generic and widespread resistance to change – it’s obvious in every channel I deal with. Naturally, it’s vital to make end consumers understand the benefits of innovative solutions. From a distribution point of view, what most satisfies end users is the ability of distributors to offer them an efficient omnichannel experience.
A customer may today want to physically go to a store to obtain information and tomorrow, that same consumer will use a digital channel to complete the purchase.
The advances in teleworking and homeworking – massively exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, of course – have required rapid and significant adaptations on the part of distributors and manufacturers in our profession.
The search for innovation
On the product side, real innovation is ultimately rare. But it’s there. One notable development I would highlight in our space has been the rapidly growing importance of well-being in the office. By wanting to reconcile work and health, entire ranges of innovative products have emerged, including air purifiers that improve air quality in office spaces and all manner of ergonomic equipment.
It has opened up completely new categories and markets to companies such as Fellowes which, by the way, still relies on its core range to finance product development. Document shredders and binding machines remain hugely important to the organisation, in part so we can develop innovations in the area of sit-stand desks, monitor arms, etc.
It’s companies visualising opportunities for growth and grasping them that make jobs attractive to young people.
I joined Fellowes France as an intern in 2015, at the end of my Masters from EM Normandy International Business School. I first participated in the commercial development of our air purification range, then gradually took charge of Fellowes’ superstore clients with a focus on ergonomics, becoming Key Account Manager at the beginning of last year.
I had actually worked with several other manufacturers in our industry in previous work experience roles during my studies. These included Henkel, Staedtler and Deflecto where I was placed in various settings to acquire a broad set of business skills with an international, commercial outlook.
All these jobs allowed me to learn about the market, see how it operates and how vendors bring new solutions to consumers.
Fellowes Brands became one of my priority targets when I finished university because it’s always struck me as a very dynamic company. By dynamic, I mean progressive, innovative and open to change – it’s in its culture.
The changes in the various positions I’ve been assigned to demonstrate Fellowes’ ability and desire to support me in my personal development. I would like to mention Country Director Emmanuel Lombard and International Key Account Manager Charles Drevon-Balas in particular here. Their support, quite frankly, only further strengthens my desire to succeed and prove that this trust is justified.
My ambition is to continue to progress and contribute to the future of Fellowes Brands by stepping up the development of core as well as non-core category products.
It is said that 80% of people resign from their jobs for managerial reasons, not because of the role itself. Food for thought? I, for one, consider myself very lucky to be in this industry and this company.
Jérôme Perhaut is also listed in our ‘Leaders of the future?’ Special Anniversary Spotlight.