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Face Time: Meet National Sales Manager: B-fit, Niki Carlino

I grew up in Sydney, where I still live. I’ve always loved the arts and throughout school I really wanted to be a creative artist and work as either a painter or sculptor. The original plan was to be a fine artist.

My first job was in a local fruit market while I was studying in high school and this was a great learning experience and my first introduction to the retail sector. However, I wasn’t a fan of getting up at 4am on the weekends!

I followed my passion for art into university where I studied Fine Art and completed a Master of Art at UNSW for four years before I made my way into the workforce. My major was painting dealing with colour and conceptual shapes and images.

While unfortunately I do not actively practice now, I am definitely looking into pursuing this more in my free time, as I still appreciate painting. Many of my hobbies outside of work revolve around the arts, as well as films, reading and good food.

Art was a focus but I think I also always wanted to work in business. I have always been fascinated by consumer goods and the needs that have given rise to the FMCG categories and the products in it. It might sound funny, but I enjoy shopping in a well serviced store that enables me to choose the products I need while also having a large selection of organic and natural products.

My first job out of university was as a sales representative selling juices and CSDs to the major supermarkets. It just came about from a friend who referred me.

I’ve held numerous positions over the last 21 years since, ranging from Sales Representative through to Sales Director. I’ve also worked extensively with key retailers and distributors in the UK and USA. In my most recent roles, my key responsibilities have been managing and instilling collaborative relationships, both internally and externally, and ensuring KPIs are met.

The experience I’ve gained over the last two decades working in the food and beverage industry led to my current role which I’m extremely excited about; launching into the Australian market a unique, new to the category, plant based, organic hydration beverage brand called B-fit. B-fit is a truly differentiated product offering to the category and we’ve built strong plans to expand our presence in the market over the next 12 months. And the best thing about it is it tastes incredible!

My current role consists of leading the strategy on route to market, developing and deploying new distribution points for B-fit. This consists of developing end to end go to market and channel strategies for the brand. This entails building and maintaining long term relationships with current and new customers and their management teams by providing guidance, information and support around B-fit and education around the benefits of B-fit.

One of the things that I’m very proud of professionally is the relationships I’ve been able to foster within the FMCG space, both nationally and internationally. It is especially satisfying seeing NPD you launch become part of the fabric of shoppers’ habits. Those habits are starting to change in Australia where people are now looking for true “better for you beverages” that offer plant based nutrition with less sugar, no artificial preservatives, sweeteners or colours and deliver on taste. B-fit delivers on all these attributes.

It is a busy role and every day brings something new. I like to start working early, so essentially on any given day I start by breaking down plans to understand and focus on both customer and internal key priorities. It’s also great to be able to work with so many departments as it gives me an insight into all parts of the business, from finance to logistics.

Being part of a great team is also a great motivator. Following product inception through to creation really motivates me as well and the innovation that this channel allows businesses to showcase. I also enjoy the interaction and negotiation with the buyers as these conversations always are robust and can lead to some great results.

Coming from an arts background also allows me to think creatively and I’m always interested in applying my skills to the creative and marketing teams and casting lenses over these functions. It especially comes in handy around clean labelling which now is gaining traction in the FMCG space.

I think that flows into my work philosophy too, which is to be the best version of yourself no matter what and be mindful of others and treat all just like you would your family.

Family is a big focus for me and instilled by my Italian heritage. I have two beautiful daughters aged four and one and a beautiful partner that creates our family of four. My kids have made me more patient and allowed me time to play and be engaged with their needs.

And while COVID-19 has brought about its challenges for all businesses, adaptability is key within business so the transition to new ways of working have been fantastic. I’m learning so much now within the current scenario and I’m looking forward to being part of the new retail landscape in the future.

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