Having taken on a new role of Head of Category, Preservation, Static Preparation & Ventilation, just as lockdown loomed last year, Ilaria tells us about the challenges and positives of a career shift in the midst of the pandemic.
The challenges and positives of a career shift in the pandemic
Ilaria Meneghin is based in Italy and took on the role of Head of Category, Preservation, Static Preparation & Ventilation just as lockdown was looming in last year. Having previously spent over a decade working for Electrolux Professional as a Product Manager in Cook&Chill, it was a move that meant getting to know new products and a new team – remotely.
She tells us what she learned on that journey and shares her advice on taking on a new role while working remotely.
Tell us a bit about your career history at Electrolux Professional
I joined the company in 2005, starting in Marketing, and joined the Product Management team three years later. I then spent over 10 years working within the Cook&Chill category, launching two amazing product lines; the air-o-steam Touchline was a pioneer in the market with its touch-screen interface and recently the new SkyLine range – a unique integrated solution between oven and blast chiller.
In April 2020, I was appointed Head of Category Preservation, Static Preparation & Ventilation and it was exciting to take up this new challenge.
So, you basically started your new role in lockdown – how was that?
It was certainly a challenging and unforgettable experience because everything was done remotely. The learning process for this kind of role – especially talking about the strategic view – is pretty long because you also need to gain experience about the market. So, on the one hand I had to speed up my learning curve and on the other I was supporting my 9-year-old son who was at home in the middle of the lockdown.
It was a huge challenge for everyone worldwide – from parents to people living alone. In my work, there was a lot of support, even though we had restricted working hours and a high level of workload complexity. Team building became stronger than in a normal working situation and a lot of mutual understanding was required to achieve goals with colleagues almost entering each other’s personal lives while working at home. When there were issues there was a lot of understanding and support for one other.
What were your dreams and ambition when you were growing up?
I was passionate about science and finding solutions. People who endeavor to make big changes in the world really fascinate me to this day. I studied economics at university; my dream was to study pure maths but I followed the more job-oriented rather than academic option.
What do you love most about your job?
It’s the mix of the many disciplines; the design part, the technical part and the customer point of view in that you need to be creative in finding the right way to communicate with customers. I grew up in a very creative family; my father being a designer who conveyed his passion for the development and creation of new ideas and products. So, my job draws on my love of science, being solution-oriented and with creative elements in one environment. And the passion of people for our products is my fuel – a satisfied customer is worth more than any prize to me.
What are you most proud of?
Aside from the two product launches mentioned earlier, I am proud of how I’m able to balance my professional and personal life – giving the best I can to both. It requires planning – it’s the only way to manage anything! Becoming a mother was a big change because my job requires me to travel – at least it did! I saw that my son learned how to deal with me being away for work and he is pretty independent now in managing things himself. So, he gave me the direction to juggle work and home life and and we worked together to manage everything.
Why Electrolux Professional?
When I joined the company over 15 years ago, I immediately felt at home. I have met many great people that have taught me a lot on my journey so far and that’s really the secret ingredient. It’s a company made up of people with passion and expertise and that really makes the difference in this competitive market.
From your experience, what advice would you give to people changing roles right now?
Taking up a new job in the present situation poses a risk that you feel alone. Since you’re not physically around colleagues, you can’t just get up to go and chat with them. So, my advice would be to contact people and don’t be scared to keep close to them. For any job I think it’s mandatory to spend time with colleagues and keep close relations – the more you know people, the better relations you can build.
In Professional, I find that there is a big feeling of openness and people really are a team. Everybody is open to spend time with you and teach you and that is incredibly important.