August 5, 2022
My Donaldson journey is probably a little bit different to most, because although I’ve been with Kitchens International for a decade, we’ve only been part of the Donaldson Group Family since 2021.
I have to admit I couldn’t help being a little apprehensive about the acquisition to start with, but I needn’t have been! The Donaldson Group culture is very similar to that of Kitchens International, it is a very creative and supportive place to work, where everyone pulls together, and bounces ideas off each other. Group processes are slightly different to what I was used to, but people took the time to help and support me as I adapted.
The biggest change for me was moving from working on just one brand to five! I’m now responsible for Optima Kitchens, Smith & Frater, Stonecare, MGM Kitchens and Kitchens International. I thought it would be overwhelming, but I’m really enjoying the variety. I worked exclusively on Kitchens International for a long time, and I know the demographic very well, but it’s been really exciting to work on new brands and learn new things. I think I’m a lot more engaged.
I studied Business Management at uni and was considering a sales or marketing role within the licensed trade after graduating. Whilst studying, a part-time role came up with Kitchens International, so I took it and before I knew it, I was working there full-time. Initially I was effectively working as a designer when they bought creative development in-house. It was a nice role to start in – I was designing point-of-sale materials and print ads, I established the social media channels, worked on the website, and was involved with events.
Fast forward 10 years and I’m delighted with how my career has progressed. I’ve learnt a lot of new skills, met a lot of interesting people and been given a lot of incredible opportunities. My biggest highlight with the Donaldson Group has been joining the Group marketing team. I’d been going to team meetings for months, but wasn’t formally part of it, so officially joining the team was really nice. There was a welcome lunch and a night out, so it felt like a real celebration.
As Head of Marketing, I oversee the creative development of all of our Interior Divisions brands; plan and manage events (that could be a dinner or exhibition, or sometimes it’s working at events with key contacts); develop strategy and annual plans; manage budgets; analyse how our website and socials are performing; prepare award submissions; and get involved in the future development of team members.
It’s a varied role and – cliché alert – no two days are ever the same; we work on similar key tasks, but for different brands with demographics, objectives, and target markets. I spend a lot of my time working closely with branch and studio managers, for example, working with them on objectives such as ways to increase engagement at branch level. My biggest achievement in my current role has to be developing and designing a kitchen selector tool for Kitchens International, it’s revolutionary within our sector and gives us a real edge. I’m very proud of it.
There are plenty of opportunities here – alongside the support and training you need to make the most of them. With a dedicated budget for training, we have freedom to choose specific courses that will benefit us and our role. Everyone has a quarterly review where we identify two things we’re doing well and two things that we can improve – and we’re given the support we need to actually make those improvements and develop new skills.
Just a year ago I only had experience of managing one brand, but since we became part of the Donaldson Group, I’ve become heavily involved with planning for all of the Interiors brands and have been promoted to Head of Marketing for the division. That’s pretty good career development if you ask me!
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