What we think

This is where you can peer into our minds and learn a bit more about us as recruiters, consultants and humans. Expect plenty of insight into Consumer, Retail, Recruitment, and life in our Leeds and London spaces. Some tips from the top and the odd guest appearance. Enjoy and please feel free to leave us a comment!

Career interview: Kim Brown, Nisa

23rd February 2022

As part of our 20th birthday celebrations, we have been speaking to the clients and candidates who have been part of Seven’s journey in Consumer Goods & Retail over the last two decades, to hear their experiences and see what we can learn! This week we speak to Kim Brown, Head of Cost-to-Serve at Nisa, who like many of our network has a background in retail trading. Kim has had an interesting career trajectory and some great advice, we thank her for taking the time to speak to us.

Hi Kim, tell us about your current role and the steps you took to get there?

My current role is Head of Cost-to-Serve at Nisa. It’s a newly formed project team with a remit to identify ways to improve efficiency and profitability.

Prior to this the majority of my career was at Sainsbury’s. I started out as a junior Buyer in Pork and then progressed through various food and non-food categories, coming full circle to head up the Meat, Fish and Poultry buying team in my last role there. After that, I joined Nisa as Head of Fresh and Frozen trading team. Nisa has really added breadth to my career – I’ve gained experience in a smaller Wholesale organisation, developed change management skills through the Co-Op buy out and transition, and now have my first non-trading role and am loving the variety and new challenge!

Sounds really varied and we love a new challenge! What part have Seven played in your career story?

I have been both a candidate and a client of Gabby’s on several occasions. The thing that sets Gabby apart from others is her focus on people and cultural fit. She recruited me into Nisa – a role that on paper didn’t fit with anything I had said I was looking for but she knew me and knew them and knew it was a good fit. She builds her network up in a traditional way and fosters proper human relationships which enable her to see and understand people’s needs. As a client I have described newly formed Trading roles that required a tricky combination of technical and behavioural skills that I didn’t believe we would find, yet she instantly understood and targeted a different type of candidate, perfectly matching the brief and changing what I looked for going forward.

We’re really proud of Gabby’s work and our clients love her approach. So, Seven was established as a business in 2002. Where were you working at this time and what was your biggest learning from that role?

In 2002 I was the toy buyer at Sainsbury’s. If I’m honest it wasn’t my favourite role – there was a lot of ambiguity as Sainsbury’s were only just getting into General Merchandise. At the time I would have said my biggest learning was you have to be passionate about the products you buy and I didn’t feel that about the toy industry. With hindsight though, it taught me bundles about resilience and the tales of trading my first Christmas in toys have often been repeated with mentees when helping them work through where they are placing their self-confidence and how they are approaching tough situations. I draw on the experience of that role more than many of the others and can now see the value it had.

So often it’s the roles and projects we don’t enjoy that end up giving us the most value isn’t it. If you could go back to that time at Sainsbury’s in 2002, what piece of career advice would you give yourself?

Be brave and get out of your comfort zone, there is a big world out there. Secondly, put all of your energy into making change work when it happens – don’t resist it.  You might just surprise yourself!

Thank you Kim! Lovely to speak with you.

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