Nicola Richardson is the General Manager of Retail, eComm, and Brand Partnerships at Asahi Beverages, but before landing there she had to travel across the world and work in a number of unique roles. This is her story…
I was born in Stafford, England, and grew up in a close-knit family. I have an older sister and a younger brother, and our extended family of relatives who moved from England. They have always been an important part of my life, and we are like a real-life ‘Family Griswalds’ living within a few kilometres of each other and frequently taking holidays together. It turns out we also like to dress the same in ‘matchy matchy’ puffers.
Growing up was a mix of school, sports, and hobbies. I enjoyed school and was actively involved in everything from sport, music, debating, and school plays. I was sporty but also a bit of a nerd and enjoyed the academic side of things. As a result, I was lucky enough to get a scholarship to study Marketing at University. I say lucky because one of my teachers unbeknownst to me nominated me for the sponsorship – such a kind thing to do! And a reminder of the impact we can have on others when we care about their development. I have tried to pay this forward throughout my life and career.
My journey into the working world started with selling shoes in a retail store. During my university years, I took on various jobs, from being a debt collector, to a hospital cleaner in the maternity ward, and even working as a grocery merchandiser. I then started my marketing career at Dulux Paint on their graduate program. Looking back, it was a random mix, but each experience taught me something valuable, whether that be what a hard day’s work can really look like, having empathy for others and learning how to be agile and adaptive in all types of situations.
As a child my parents introduced me to the world through trips back to the UK and exploring different parts of the USA and Asia. In my 20s travelling became a passion. My boyfriend (now husband) and I backpacked across Europe before settling in London where I worked in the Marketing team at Campbell’s Soup. I was so fortunate to gain this experience and learn best practice from a global business.
Marketing was my thing – I loved the consumer, insights, communications and bringing things to life with agencies, sales teams, and customers. Upon return to Australia, I was offered an opportunity to work in sales, again through the support from a leader who thought I could do it. And whilst I thought I would do a ‘stint’ in sales, who knew it would become my new passion.
Currently, I hold the position of General Manager Retail, eComm, and Brand Partnerships at Asahi. My path to this role included being the Sales and Transformation Director at Lion Dairy and Drinks and the Marketing Director there before that.
Currently, I hold the position of General Manager Retail, eComm, and Brand Partnerships at Asahi. My path to this role included being the Sales and Transformation Director at Lion Dairy and Drinks, and the Marketing and Category Development Director there before that.
Throughout my career and life, I have been blessed with having the support and backing of people who have believed in me and given me great opportunities. This is no different at Asahi where I feel very grateful for being part of a great business, whilst getting the chance to do what I love. I have an awesome team and am passionate about developing people and giving them opportunities, just like I have been so fortunate to have.
In my spare time, I cherish moments with my family, watching my boys play sports or do plays, and spending time with extended family and friends. I like to run (it helps clear my head), play basketball (albeit badly), golf (even worse), and do charity work with my kids. My family includes my husband Dave, our sons Josh and Liam, our dogs Freddy and Snoop Dogg, and our cat Ebony.
For those in the retail industry, my advice is to focus on your core proposition and get this right first and foremost. Be famous for something that matters to your customers and communicate effectively with your suppliers.
To suppliers, my advice is to be as customer centric as possible. Understand where the value lies for both you and your customers and concentrate on strengthening that connection. Empower your people, support their success, be their biggest cheerleader and never stop learning.
This article originally appeared in the December/January issue of C&I Retailing Magazine.