Two of our Mira Marketing based associates have been spending time with our parent company Kohler in Wisconsin USA. Here's part two of their reports from Shaun Skelton, Associate Channel Manager.
Why a secondment at Kohler Co.?
This secondment offered the opportunity to learn first-hand about Kohler from a global perspective, the Fixtures and Global Faucets organization, and ultimately help me see the role the Mira play. I was particularly interested in how marketing plans are developed and executed at Kohler and wanted to focus on how to learn from the best of what Kohler does and bring it back to Mira. On top of the amazing job and development opportunities, there was the chance to go and experience a different culture and way of life—it was all around an opportunity I could not pass up.
What were you hoping to gain from your secondment – what does it involve?
The secondment is to be a part of the digital marketing team and gives me the chance to further develop skills in selling products online, learn what is important to different types of consumers buying a wide array of bathroom and kitchen products (Kohler have a product portfolio of 30,000 SKU’s!) and to learn from experienced Associates at the heart of the Kohler business. By accepting this opportunity, I was focused on three things: learning, developing and contributing. Firstly, I wanted to learn not only about the Kohler business and e-commerce, but to also learn new ways of managing business, working with people, driving change and improvements, and pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
Secondly, I wanted to develop experience in building relationships with people from different cultures and developing leadership skills by learning from and working with some of the best leaders at Kohler. And finally, the whole purpose of my secondment was to contribute back to the team by delivering key 2018 objectives to drive YoY growth helping to set my business up for success in 2019.
How are you finding being away from home for 6 months?
I’m absolutely loving it! I got to Kohler in June and have been able to experience a beautiful Wisconsin summer—taking in the lakes, beaches and of course the rooftop bars. The 6-hour time difference is tough to get used to, as it makes it difficult to catch up with friends and family at home until the weekend, but I leave my watch on English time so I don’t have to do the math to know what time it is if I think about trying to call people at 3am.
What were the key differences you found between the US and the UK (both work and outside of work if you like)
The food portion sizes—they are enormous! Seriously, though, the biggest difference is the scale of the USA compared to the UK, including Kohler compared to Mira. The sheer size of the business that we’re a part of, and how the culture is the same across the huge amounts of people who work there, is mind-blowing. There is a Superbrand feel as soon as you enter the village of Kohler and this is even clearer with a visit to the inspiring Kohler Design Centre, the relaxing Kohler Spa, or while staying
at the American Club.
How do you think the secondment is helping you develop?
Every day is a school day at Kohler. I am learning so much and so quickly that it’s hard to keep my head on straight! I am driven to continuously improve and challenge myself daily thanks to the level of achievement and experience of the teams here. My confidence has increased due to having moved from a comfortable environment at Mira into a situation where I was working with a top-tier team, had so much to learn and wanted to get up to speed as quickly as possible to contribute and help drive improvement at Kohler and realising that if I worked hard and set my mind to it, it was totally possible.
I have had to adapt and integrate and use the skills I have developed to operate successfully outside of my comfort zone—not just in the day-to-day job but in understanding a new life and work culture. By managing my own product categories, in the fast-growing e-commerce channel, I am learning how to manage a business online and drive sales to achieve growth. I’ve also had further aspects of a global experience as managing the Bathing and Showering businesses has included launching shower doors from Mira!
What would you say to an associate considering a secondment?
If you get the opportunity, then go and do it! It’s been a life-changing experience—living and working in a different culture and most importantly hearing new ideas and ways to do things. I can’t recommend it enough!