Kelly Orme was the first to launch veggie ready-meals into Morrisons, but she says that working in wholesale is much better – you can be passionate and be yourself
How long have you worked in your current job?
Four years this April. To be honest, I only expected to be in the role for a couple of years. I came from a top four multiple and didn’t think the world of wholesale would be half as glamorous, but I’ve loved it. I think I’ll stay!
What are your day to day responsibilities?
I’m responsible for buying, so negotiating cost prices and trading terms and range selection for our seven wholesale members.
But I’ve also got involved in quality assurance and all the technical development of own brand and developed our beginning-to-end processes, as well as working with the marketing department to make sure our key messages are right.
How long have you worked in wholesale?
Off and on, I’ve been in wholesale for around 10 years. I was at Makro for six years before travelling to Australia to work for a supermarket. When I returned to the UK I worked for Morrisons and now Caterforce. Wholesale is completely different to retail but it’s great.
I was always asking “Can I make this work? Am I good enough?” Impostor syndrome kicked in!
What’s been the toughest moment in your career?
For me personally, it was emigrating to Australia because a lot was riding on it. My husband and I went but it was my job that took us there and that pressure was tough because I was always asking, “Can I make this work? Am I good enough?” Impostor syndrome kicked in!
How did you over come it (assuming that you did!)
I got stuck into the job, and realised I was good enough and that I could actually do it. It was a leap of faith. When we came home, it was the right thing for us, but I had loved my job there and been successful.
How about the most rewarding / greatest achievement?
There are loads! My first big achievement when I first graduated was bringing in New Zealand lamb for Somerfield. At Morrisons I brought in Easter confectionery and the first vegetarian ready-meal range. At Caterforce I’m really proud of the technical developments I’ve initiated.
In wholesale you are allowed to be passionate and to be yourself – arguably more than in retail
What do you love most about your job / what would you change?
At Caterforce I have autonomy and a freedom to do things across the whole business. In wholesale you are allowed to be passionate and to be yourself – arguably more than in retail, where you always had to adhere to an established culture. I’d like a greater diversity of teams in the industry as a whole – not just gender but ethnicity too so it’s truly representative.
Where would you like to be in five years?
I want to be happy and doing something I love. I’ve got a young family and I’d love to sit here and say I’d like to be an MD but that’s not practical for me at the moment. My husband and I both work flexibly because we want to be there for our children.
How do you like your eggs: boiled, scrambled, poached or fried?
I’m not an egg lover to be honest – more of a porridge person.
Be yourself. Don’t try to be someone else and don’t try to be like a man.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Be yourself. Don’t try to be someone else and don’t try to be like a man. A manager once told me that I smile too much! I couldn’t stop that, it’s who I am and as long as I’m not smiling at the wrong moments, I couldn’t see there was a problem.
What’s the best book or film you’ve ever read?
The Sound of Music – are there others? It’s the most perfect film ever – it’s got Julie Andrews on a mountain!
If you could change one thing about your job what would it be?
The admin. It’s less admin heavy than in retail but still I’m not a keen form-filler. I’m a doer and I love projects and getting people excited about stuff.
Is there anyone you really look up to – who is it and why?
My first boss at Somerfield called Rosemary. She is so inspirational and an exceptional buyer. She was a woman who wasn’t afraid to be herself, and she was both strict and encouraging and a great mentor.
Diverse teams are stronger. If your team is narrow you are not going to deliver for your customer.
Why is it important to you to support Women in Wholesale’s objectives?
Diverse teams are stronger. If your team is narrow you are not going to deliver for your customer. Everybody should have an opportunity and wholesale is such a fantastic industry to be in that I want other people to know about that.
Established in 1991, Caterforce is one of the biggest foodservice buying and marketing consortiums in the UK. It sources products from a wide range of leading suppliers and manufacturers to support its seven independent foodservice wholesalers.
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