In this Career Insider, product manager for Beneo’s non-dairy alternatives and BeNeLux country manager Stefanie De Roover lifts the lid on a varied and challenging role, and offers advice for those seeking a similar position. “Never stop being curious,” she says…
Name: Stefanie De Roover
Job title: Country Manager (BeNeLux) & Product Manager Nutriz
What does your job involve?
Actually, there are two sides to my job. On one hand I’m the country manager for the markets in Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg (BeNeLux). Within this role I manage our existing business, develop new business and identify promising opportunities in this region.
On the other hand, I’m a product manager for BENEO’s non-dairy alternative product range, Nutriz. In this role I promote the growth and development of the range internally and externally. As part of this, I’m in contact with different departments within BENEO, such as marketing, R&D, production and quality, in order to gain a broad view on the company, an element of my role which I really enjoy.
What skills do you need?
Although I’m part of the commercial team, my technical know-how is required every day. This is another part of my job that I take great pleasure from, even more so when I see just how much our customers appreciate this level of advice and expertise. My studies in biological engineering and my master in industrial management are a solid basis for providing this level of insight for customers. Additionally, empathy helps a lot, as well as reading between the lines and taking the time to listen to people.
How did you get into it?
In 2009, I started as a member of BENEO’s Customer Technical Service team, taking care of all technical questions regarding BENEO’s ingredients. During this period, I learned a lot about BENEO’s ingredients portfolio, the characteristics of single products and travelled a lot to support our worldwide network of customers. In the years that followed, I improved my commercial skills as sales representative for the Netherlands. Both these positions gave me valuable experience and knowledge that I still use on a daily basis in my current position.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
It’s the variety that comes with my job: I love being challenged every day and enjoy being able to grow our business with ingredients I personally believe in. In this respect, I’m in touch with different partners inside and outside the company, allowing me to gain a different perspective on projects. Also, travelling in and outside Europe provides me with insights into other cultures and different ways of working which helps to keep my business life diversified and exciting. I also like BENEO’s working philosophy which gives the commercial team a high level of independency, while at the same time stimulating entrepreneurial efforts.
Are there any downsides?
There are no downsides in a job like this that you enjoy as much as I do. Writing reports is something which I would probably regard as a less fascinating part of my job because it keeps me away from the commercial life, but it’s inevitable within any business like BENEO.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
Convincing and motivating colleagues, encouraging them to feel the same level of enthusiasm for a project is a very fascinating, but demanding challenge within my role.
What have been the highlights of your career so far?
Shaping the new commercial structure for the BeNeLux market was very challenging, educational and rewarding at the same time. I believe that the organisation will strengthen BENEO as a company in the BeNeLux market and support further growth.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in BENEO’s commercial department?
- Always nurse your technical background and never stop being curious for new information. But don’t stop there, also become familiar with economical principles and commercial strategies.
- Regard a dynamic and international environment as an opportunity to grow.
- Be creative and a solution-minded entrepreneur.
How do you see yourself in five years?
I hope that I can continue to learn, absorb information and experience new things like I have done over the past 3 years. As BENEO is a dynamic and growing company, I believe that a lot of opportunities and interesting challenges will cross my path.