As the New Zealand Association of Convenience Stores (NZACS) prepares to award the winners of the 2021 Peter Jowett Scholarship, we asked 2015 winner Rachel Williams to tell us about her Peter Jowett experience.

Williams was in the early stages of her career at British American Tobacco New Zealand (BATNZ) when she was approached by a co-worker with the opportunity to take part in the Peter Jowett Scholarship.

She went on to win not only the Peter Jowett Scholarship in New Zealand, but also the NACS Convenience Industry Global Achievement Award in Las Vegas – an experience that she describes as “phenomenal”.

“Arriving in Las Vegas, the NAC’s trade show exceeded expectations. The passion, energy and innovation represented across the trade show was remarkable,” Williams told C&I NZ.

“Representing New Zealand and presenting my concept to the world felt surreal. The New Zealand scholarship awards process and the overall feedback from the NZACS awards evening, which became a strong focus for me in advance of my travels, heavily strengthened my entry into the Las Vegas competition and supported me in securing the win.”

Since 2015, Williams has been promoted to the role of National Field Manager for BATNZ, a key strategic and operational role, where she is oversees a team of 35.

“One of the most enjoyable elements of my role is the energy I get from the team and the opportunity to work with over 4500 retailers across New Zealand. I take great pride in the fact that we are continuously recognised as a top FMCG sales team by our retail partners.”

Speaking on how the Peter Jowett Scholarship has helped to bolster her career, Williams says that the entire experience was and invaluable opportunity for functional career growth.

“The awards truly do support you to challenge your thinking on the industry, stretch your focus and test yourself through viewing your idea through a variety of lenses. The project supported me to network internally and externally, growing relationships and exposing me to wider areas of the business,” she says.

“I have been privileged to take that approach moving forward within my career journey to date. My experience has helped bolster my confidence, my capabilities, and my leadership traits. It has helped me to navigate a new role I’ve been appointed to, and I enjoy drawing on these experiences by seeking out and creating new and challenging opportunities.

“The next phase of my career will focus on building on my national field and leadership skills with a return to the account management space, as a channel manager. This pathway will allow me to further enhance my commercial and business leadership skills, while again working with some of the biggest retail banners in New Zealand.

“I sincerely thank the hosts, organisers and all involved for granting so many young New Zealander’s these exceptional opportunities.”

Williams congratulated the four finalists of the 2021 Peter Jowett Scholarship and offered up some advice for them ahead of the finals.

“I think it’s critical to ensure the audience has a solid understanding of what your concept means to you. You have leveraged the question to identify a gap in the market. How would your concept add value to your life? Request support from your peers, friends, family, and colleagues to test and challenge your thinking.

“The support you receive on this journey is self-driven, however always remember to stick to your roots on where you see your concept going. Receiving feedback is a critical part in the process, however it is important to keep your concept and your presentation true to you.”

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