Updating Results

Douglas Cullen

What's your job about?

Diageo is the world’s largest producer of spirits, I’m responsible for field sales in Sydney’s Inner West, looking after over 100 customer accounts. On average, I meet with about 7 customers a day, to ensure Diageo is doing everything we can to beat the competition in store and in venues. I work with clients to make sure our brands and products show up best within each premises, whether that’s a bottle shop or a licensed venue. This requires a lot of planning and preparation so I’ll generally do this early in the morning and be on the road by 9:30. My job is a combination of selling, setting up displays and customer relations. Meetings will generally involve discussions on pricing, promotions and what we can do together to maximise customer sales.

What's your background?

I grew up in Stirling, Scotland. When I finished school, I went to the University of Edinburgh and studied chemistry, graduating with a Master’s degree in July. As part of this, I spent a year working in a research laboratory in Hong Kong. I’ve always looked for opportunities to live and work in different parts of the world and my time there really reinforced this desire.

When I finished university I had to decide between pursuing a PhD or trying something different. This led me to apply for a role with Diageo in Sydney. I knew about the company due to their massive presence in Scotland and the number of roles available for STEM graduates in the supply side of the business. However, it was the commercial side of things that really interested me. I was successful in my application and started working in field sales, which I’ve been doing for about 5 months. I really liked the company values and the relationship between our team and line managers. The work environment was one where I really felt I could develop and so I applied to be part of the commercial graduate program. I’m now on the 3 year program and I’m looking forward to 3 roles in 3 years!

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes, definitely! My background and education aren’t traditional preparation for a commercial field sales role. Being numerate definitely helps with pricing and margin calculations on the spot, but interpersonal skills are the most important part of the job. Relationships with customers are key to successful partnerships and positive results for all involved. Organisational skills make a real difference too, making sure everything gets done to deadlines.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

The thing I most enjoy is changing customer’s perceptions of myself and Diageo. Diageo is a large multinational company and the majority of my customers are independent venues and shops. If I can bring an element of service to these clients, and make them feel valued by such a big organisation, then I feel I’m making a difference. I also enjoy seeing how the efforts I put in produce results for our team, both in terms of numbers and activations which look great.

 What are the limitations of your job?

There is responsibility associated with the role. I am accountable for the performance of my territory and have to put in effort to ensure that it is performing well. This means a lot of time on the road and you have to be comfortable spending time working alone. There is a support network within our team who are always happy to share their expertise and advice, but a high degree of self-motivation and willingness to solve problems through initiative is a necessity.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • Keep your horizons broad. If you’re not sure what career path you want to follow, it can feel like your focus of study is becoming very niche. Unless you know exactly what you want to do, stay abreast of things that interest you.
  • Take every opportunity possible to get out of your comfort zone. Living in a different culture can be challenging, but it is something you definitely won’t regret.
  • Take time with your applications. It makes a real difference when what you submit is tailored to the role and organisation you want to work for.