Noa’s path to being a Business Manager at Contined
21 September 2018
Noa Bastiaans, Business Manager, has been working at Contined since 2012. In an interview, we discussed his career path in the food industry, the company he works for, Contined, and market developments and how Contined adapts to these changes. In this part of the interview, Noa’s career and reasons for working in the food industry are discussed.
Noa studied Food Technology at Hogeschool Larenstein, with a specialisation in marketing. ‘’The reason for studying Food Technology is because I wanted to develop products. So that when I would walk through the supermarket, I could see the products I made.’’ However, during that study, he found out that working in a lab for eight hours a day would not be his dream job. Noa decided that focusing more on marketing and trying to get the customers to consume your product, would be more interesting for him.
In order to be successful in marketing, Noa wanted to learn more about technical (marketing) management. ‘’How does an organisation need to develop in order to be more efficient and more attractive towards the customers?’’ Noa felt that he had a gap in his knowledge to answer that question, and that is the reason why he did a second study in Nijmegen, Business Management.
After Noa was graduated, he worked as a Product Manager at Stegeman. He was responsible for new product concepts, as well as marketing and market research. Furthermore, he was active in the sales of the products. “Overall, at Stegeman, I was the middleman for all departments, which gave me the opportunity to gain experiences in several aspects within a food company.”
After several years, he decided that he wanted to develop himself more on a sales level, and he started working at Imcopa, where he would be responsible for the sales of soy lecithin. This was a good learning experience, but due to a lack of supply of soy, he changed jobs and started working at GfK.
‘’At GfK, I was responsible for the sale of market insights and knowledge towards companies working in the food sciences industry. So, this was a little different compared to his previous employers. Instead of working at a food company, he was now working for a company which was focusing on company and market research. ‘’This was a really good experience for me, as I was learning a lot about the different food markets. However, I felt that the research and advise I gave was too abstract for me.’’
‘’What I found out at GfK is that the R&D and sales departments at every food (sciences) company, are the key pillars for a corporation to be successful. And with my background, the R&D aspect still triggered me, as at a certain moment, that was the reason I started working in the food industry.’’ At that moment, Noa found Contined, a distributor for food ingredients, such as functional and fruit ingredients. At Contined, Noa could combine his interests for R&D and sales.
At Contined, Noa is in direct contact with R&D people and purchase to discuss and discover new ingredients and recipes. Furthermore, he is in contact with producers of single ingredients to discuss prices and to coordinate a good supply of these ingredients to Contined’s customers. ‘’The difficulty for me at Contined is to convince the companies developing product concepts to use our products, instead of the products from our competition. But that is something that I love doing.’’
In 2012, when Noa started working at Contined as an Account Manager, he was responsible for the technical ingredients, such as pectin’s, fibres and natural colourings. With these responsibilities, he could use his technical knowledge, but at the same time, be in direct contact with customers.
The reason he is not an Account Manager anymore, but a Business Manager, is that Bösch Boden Spies (BBS) took over Contined and that the previous Business Manager retired. BBS is a trading company with 30 years of experience in food ingredients distribution, located in Hamburg, Germany. ‘’We already knew BBS before the take-over, as they were responsible for the cranberry market in Europe, except for the Benelux market, where we were responsible for. ‘’
Contined and BBS are a good fit, as the companies are similar, but not the same. Right now, the BBS group is in the cranberry market all of Europe, including Contined’s target market. Furthermore, BBS is more of a trading company, where Contined tries to be more in contact with the specialists and quality developers.
Despite the take-over, almost nothing has changed for Contined, they are still the same company with the same employers and focusing on the same market. Once a month, the two companies come together for meetings and strategic decisions. And as Noa is now one of the Business Managers at Contined, he is one of the decision makers that is in direct contact with BBS.
However, he is not just a Business Manager. ‘’Being a Business Manager takes up 60% of my time, but during the other 40% I am still a salesman, with the responsibility of pectin’s.”
In part two of the interview with Noa Bastiaans, the trends in the food industry will be discussed, and how Contined adapts to these trends.