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The “taste” of a new challenge

15 February, 2017

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Date of Publication: 15 February, 2017
An interview with Ana Jerez Quintana, new Operations Manager for a food distribution company for the hospitality industry. After 11 years of successful experience in another important group in the Food & Beverage sector, she decided to change company, above all her role, and give it a new go.

Hello Ana! Can you tell us what your job was before?
I was head of the technical department of a large international catering company in Barcelona, for the development of new solutions and processes to adapt to individual markets and, above all, to improve the efficiency and profitability of the food, managing a team of 12 people.


Why would a successful manager like you, at some point, decide to leave an established position and risk embarking on a new venture?
I needed new challenges, to continue to learn, grow and develop my professionalism. I had a challenge in mind: that of exploring another area within the world of food, to be able to work in another city and in another country. Right now, in my new job, I'm involved in the area of Cape Verde in Africa.


For any company it’s always difficult to lose an important member of staff. Didn't they try to convince you to stay?
The moment a person makes a decision of this kind - not for financial reasons but only for the need to change - the company can do very little about it. The only thing they can do is keep a positive attitude, facilitating the employee’s departure from the company and the handing over of the work.


How did you get the new job?
A person should always know how much he or she is worth on the labour market, without ever stopping to look for professional alternatives. Only in this way you can take advantage of opportunities when they arise. And for me it was like this. Today, the web and social networks offer great help for those who want to continue to look around and evaluate new job opportunities.


Was it easy to go from organizing a technical department to the distribution industry?
No, not at all. In my case, I spent so many years specializing in a very specific area that leaving was not easy. What’s more, as happens in one’s private life, the more time you spend in one place, the more difficult it is to decide to leave it. Getting out of one’s comfort zone always requires a great effort.


What’s the secret of success for a food company?
It’s a constantly changing world where you always have to be on the pulse and know what your competitors are doing. The consumer and customer is very demanding; listening to his or her needs is a key factor to continuous improvement. In my case, I’m always committed to listening to the ever more demanding cooks and chefs to meet their needs.


In the food industry, what are the most difficult skills to find?
As happens in many other sectors, rather than the technical skills, key personal qualities are fundamental, such as responsibility, having analytical skills, an aptitude for problem solving.

For companies, the big challenge is to know how to value these skills, motivating employees each day so that they feel proud of their work and part of a team, with the aim of achieving new goals.

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