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Meet our Global Account Director Russell Harris
“I have always enjoyed the challenge of growing sales and speaking with different customers across the world. The potential we have to grow our business with existing and new products is significant, and this is what I enjoy the most.”
Get to know Russell Harris who has done an inspiring journey within Axelent since his journey with us started five years ago.
Can you share a little bit about what you did before you joined Axelent?
I have been working within the construction industry for 22 years. Prior to joining Axelent I worked with a company who specialised in damage prevention products, working with both retail and distribution centre sectors. I initially started as project manager, and over the next 10 years also took on roles as Contracts Manager, Sales Manager and International Sales Director. This role is ultimately what lead me to the relationship with Axelent, as they were one of my customers.
For how long have you been working with Axelent and in which role did your journey start?
I have been working for Axelent for just over 5 years. My initial role with the company was European Sales Director, helping the business to integrate a new product line into our business across Europe. In November 2018 the UK Managing Director moved away from the UK, and at that stage I was asked to take over the UK MD role. After just over 3 years in this position Stefan Axelsson and Andreas Gotmark presented me with an opportunity to join the global sales team in Sweden as Global Account Director.
What is your current role and how does it differ to what you did before?
My current role managing global accounts is a very exciting and challenging one, and it differs from how Axelent may have worked previously. As a global company we have many successful customer relationships across the world. However, as each country have their own objectives and sales targets to achieve, it is difficult to maximize our global potential with all of these large customers. My role is to work alongside our global offices and sales teams to grow our local customer relationships to a global procurement level. This can include agreeing pricing structures, framework agreements and specification requirements. All of this information is then shared between each of our offices to help Axelent grow on a global, and local level. I would say the main difference is that I don’t have an actual team reporting to me, as I have with all my previous roles. I manage with our customer’s expectations and ensure that they are being strategised and communicated throughout our business from start to finish.
What challenges did you meet on the way?
As this is a new role within Axelent there are always going to be challenges to overcome, this is all part of a business adapting to changing markets and customer needs. Many of our offices and customers have been used to operating at a local level. Therefore, we have had to change the way we think during our discussions with customers. To fully understand a customer’s needs or the potential for growth, we have changed the way we communicate. When it comes to global customers, we now need to share all knowledge and information throughout the organisation to ensure we maximize our potential.
Has there been anyone within the organization that has been an inspiration or a mentor for you?
I have seen many other people within the organization take on new and challenging roles and make them a success. I would say two of these people are Marcel Darroch Davies and Andreas Gotmark who have held many different roles within our business and grown and learnt different skills throughout each one.
When you were given the opportunity for this role, how did it make you feel? Is it as you thought it was going to be?
To be honest, it wasn’t an easy decision to make. During my 3 years in the UK as MD we had made a significant amount of progress and enjoyed significant growth year on year. However, the chance to join the growing global sales team was too big of an opportunity to pass up on. I also had to discuss the role with my family, as although they had been used to me travelling in previous roles, during my time in the UK trips abroad were minimal. I knew that the role would be challenging, this isn’t something that would ever deter me. I would say the first 6 to 9 months was a learning curve, and now I believe that internally and externally we fully appreciate and understand the opportunity we have to grow our global customers by working together.
What do you enjoy the most with your job at Axelent?
As with all my roles, I enjoy the unknown of what each day will bring. What phone call or email will I make/take that will present an opportunity to grow our business. I have always enjoyed the challenge of growing sales and speaking with different customers across the world. The potential we have to grow our business with existing and new products is significant, and this is what I enjoy the most. I also enjoy building or strengthening my relationships with our internal offices and mentoring whenever I can.
How does your workdays look now?
As mentioned above, each day is different. Some weeks I will be travelling to different countries, then there will be a period of working from home. I will usually have video calls with customers, or discussions with our regional offices. When we have a large opportunity with a global customer, I work with that office to secure the correct offer. However, each day I will be looking at our customers to see where we have the potential for a global agreement, and how I can best influence this.
If someone were to ask you how it is to work at Axelent, what would you say?
Axelent is a great company to work for. Although we are a global company, they work hard to ensure that people are heard, and ideas are discussed. We have an extensive premium product range and a huge customer portfolio. As you can see from the interview, Axelent will provide opportunities within the organization for those that want to push themselves and succeed. I have been lucky enough to make many strong relationships throughout our business, and I look forward to making more for many years to come.
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