Nicola West joined Lantmännen Unibake in 2010 when Bakehouse was acquired. She had been working there as a buyer and supplier manager since 2007. With the acquisition, her role became Head of International Development, and her major task was to look after the goods that were exported from Europe to Australia and South Africa and also to look into new markets. “At that time, I did a lot of travel, which is something that I have always enjoyed. When I was working at Bakehouse, I used to travel around Europe but when we joined Lantmännen Unibake I started travelling a lot more globally, in particular to the markets I was responsible for in Australia and South Africa and Singapore.”
“When we started looking into strengthening our position in Australia, we identified a business which looked like a good fit for Lantmännen Unibake. The acquisition took about three years and before finalizing it, I was asked if I would be interested in moving to Australia for a couple of years to help with the transition. For me it was a step up in my career within Lantmännen to become a Sales and Marketing Director and in addition, it was a very different and exciting opportunity.”
Which challenges have you faced during these 18 months in Australia?
“It is difficult to start in a new country because everything is new. The advantage I had was that Australia has a lot of similarities with the United Kingdom; but still you need to start from zero in a new country: new job, new home, and new country.” Being on the other side of the world during a global pandemic is not an easy job either, “My husband was going to join me for a while in Australia during my second year here. Unfortunately, he got stuck back in London at the start of the pandemic and has not managed to get back out here yet with borders still closed.”
International Mobility is not for everyone, “there are people who don’t enjoy travelling and maybe they wouldn’t enjoy doing what I have been doing for the last ten years, but I personally love it”. Lantmännen Unibake is a mix of people from different countries and cultures, “I joined a small business that became a global business and gave me the chance to end up on the other side of the world. I completely encourage people to do it because it has been a fantastic learning experience. I get to live in a completely different place and experience a different culture”.
What would you say to someone who is hesitant of making the step?
“I suppose it is normal to doubt and it brings with a bit of a risk, but I would, and I did, think about all the positive aspects that comes with such an opportunity, and above all trust the people who are offering you the role. My assignment here has an expiration date and I trust Lantmännen Unibake that when this comes to an end they will support and guide me to the next step in my career, whether that be to remain in Australia, go back home or move to another country.”.