Laurent Hugol is the Key Account Manager who knows what it takes to remain relevant in a rapidly changing industry. He shares his thoughts on flexibility and spending long hours with high profile clients.
Pride vs arrogance
“I’ve been working for Iggesund Paperboard since 1989. That’s a very long time and of course there have been many major changes since I first began in Paris – at that time through an agent – but one thing never changes: we French can sometimes be perceived in our attitude as arrogant. But Iggesund is never, has never been and will never be arrogant. That’s one of the most important success factors. That when we take on a job, whatever it may be, we always have great respect for the challenges it entails. We are proud but never ever arrogant.”
A long day at the airport
“I’ve made masses of mill visits with customers over the years, sharing best Iggesund performances and practices, and very often things happen that give both my guests and me memories for life. Like the time I was with a major important customer and when we got to Charles de Gaulle Airport we found out that the flight was ‘a bit late’ due to a snowstorm. We booked a table at a restaurant where our group of fourteen people spent half the day (and all my budget, ha ha) before we got off the ground. Then there was about four centimetres of snow in Paris. When we landed in Stockholm and travelled up to Iggesund we were met by one and a half metres of snow and -30 °C.”
The biggest difference then and now
“The market is moving very quickly and we need to follow it carefully. That’s why we changed the organisation when we moved the local sales offices to a joint European office in Amsterdam in the beginning of the millennium, as many customers now are multinational. We need to serve the need quicker than in the past. The idea with the Sales and Technical Service Managers being in home offices is to be close to the local decision makers, such as converters and end-users. Every day comes with new unpredictable challenges. You have to be very flexible and ready to challenge your own habits.”