This month, our Top Talent interview is with Head of Insight and Customer Experience at Bidfood, Sarah Whiddett. She says taking risks, speaking out and using every opportunity to put yourself forward has helped her to progress quickly at Bidfood
Name, job title and company
Sarah Whiddett, Head of Insight & Customer Experience, Bidfood
How long have you worked in your current job?
I’ve worked for Bidfood since 2014 (recruited as an Insight Manager), and been in my current role since September 2015
What are your day-to-day responsibilities
I have a dual role, in effect, which is centred around the customer.
Firstly, I head up our insight team, who are responsible for supporting our business and customers with the very best insight about the market, key sectors, and consumer, and customer, behaviour.
The second part of my role is about helping the business in its ambition to deliver service excellence to its customer, inside and out.
This collaborative role with our people team is all about ensuring we understand what we need to do as business to make our customers and people’s lives easier. This is a varied role which can have me sitting in an IT strategy meeting in the morning to talk about enhancing our online ordering platform, to presenting the very latest food trends at an industry event in the afternoon – no two days are the same!
How long have you worked in wholesale?
Bidfood was my first role within wholesale, so nearly four years. Previously to that I worked at Waitrose, and before that I worked agency-side for two leading research agencies.
I think my varied experience across a variety of other sectors (including banking, retail, telecoms, business services) has helped my current role.
What’s been the toughest moment in your career?
Coming into wholesale and starting with Bidfood was a tough moment – I’d come from a world of consumers where there was a plethora of data and insight to draw on, and the insight team was well embedded within organisations. The world of wholesale, and chefs, and B2B is all very different; it was a steep learning curve.
I had to work hard to gain the respect of different teams and sell the value of insights and research across the business. The Insight team we have now and the work we now do is completely different to when I first started.
How about the most rewarding?
At the start of our Service Excellence journey at Bidfood, we knew we wanted to be famous for service, but there were disagreements about where to start to get there.
At a brainstorm meeting with senior leaders across the business I took the opportunity to stand up and make some suggestions about how to approach this. From there my new role and a large project uncovering what service excellence means to all our customers across all touch points and at every stage of the customer journey emerged.
For me, it was the most rewarding moment as in taking the opportunity to speak up and give my views in a very senior meeting, landed me a fantastic job and all the opportunities that have since come with it.
Shortly after this, I got to present to a couple of hundred of our senior leaders on the outcome of my work at our bi-annual Leadership conference.
I was the only non-board member to present and it was an amazing opportunity and incredibly rewarding.
What do you love most about your job?
I love the variety and freedom to work with so many different people and organisations both inside and outside of Bidfood. I also love the fact that I can see the results of the work I do directly with the customers, and that I work in an organisation, which is completely bought in to a ‘customer-first’ mindset
Where would you like to be in five years?
I’m currently studying for my Diploma with the CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing) and so I’d love to be more involved with marketing, joining up my expertise across insight and customer experience. I hope to continue the development of my leadership skills, and would love to be a senior leader within the business
How do you like your eggs: boiled, scrambled, poached or fried?
Boiled, with dippy soldiers!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Fake it until you make it. If I hadn’t taken chances in my career and stretched myself, I wouldn’t be where I am today
What’s the best book or film you’ve ever read?
Having studied English Literature for my degree I’ve read hundreds of books over the years – I just couldn’t narrow it down to one.
If you could change one thing about your job what would it be?
Unlimited funds so that I could implement all the ideas I come up with!
Is there anyone you really look up to – who is it and why?
I’ve been asked this question before, and I find it really tough! I’m a bit of a perfectionist and so I tend to admire qualities in lots of different people rather than just one person – I look up to people who are truly talented in what they do, but conduct themselves with gravitas and kindness – pride, arrogance and a lack of manners overshadow any skill or talent in my eyes.
If you would like to take part in the next WiW top talent blog, or would like to nominate a colleague, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org