Leading Success Through Teamwork and Service

May 1, 2017

Daymon Senior Director Deborah Williams was recently named as a 2017 Woman of Influence in the Food Industry. This honor was all the more special considering she was nominated by the retailer partner whose in-store sampling and selling program she’s helped build and grow over the last year and half. As a 12-year veteran of Daymon, Williams has been a leader for major programs around the globe. We caught up with her to find out her strategies for success.

RNI: Can you tell us about your experience and the different roles you’ve held at Daymon?

DW: I started out as a district manager for a Midwestern retailer’s in-store sampling program, then became the Operations Manager. While I was working on that account, I mentored the team launching an event program at a major grocery retailer in South Africa. Thanks to that international experience, I was tapped to help launch the sampling program at one of Portugal’s largest retailers. Once that program was up and running, I returned to the United States in my current role as Senior Director for one of Daymon’s newest dedicated in-store event accounts on the East Coast.

RNI: What’s been your strategy for successfully growing each of these very different accounts?

DW: It starts with building a strong team. As a leader, you need to identify each team member’s skill and how best to use it to the team’s advantage. Say one person is good at communicating, and another is good at Excel. You help team them up to work together and complement each other. Then they form this quiet bond. It’s not about your job vs. my job; it’s about working together for the same cause and the same goal. That helps get things accomplished. So does fostering an environment where asking a question or not knowing something is not intimidating. It’s OK to say, “I hear you but I have no idea what you’re asking from me.” That helps with achieving the ultimate goal of providing what the customer wants.

You also have to be attentive to the customer’s needs. We’re not just talking about in-store sampling with our retailer partner. We’re listening to their struggles and offering solutions. The same goes for the suppliers we work with. That not only helps build the business, but also the value our partners see in working with us.

RNI: What would you say is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career so far?

DW: Not to be afraid. You can’t come in to a new account being timid or not confident. My first strategy is to come in saying we have the best program in the U.S. If you can’t express that and don’t believe it, you can’t convince retailers and CPGs that you’re the best.

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