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Naëlle Blondel
Naëlle Blondel

Area Manager at Yooji

Work-study to find your way

I am a graduate of the class of 2018 and I did my first year of work-study at Unilever in the field. The fact that I was often out in the field enabled me to progress both professionally and, above all, personally. I'm naturally shy and being a salesperson has helped me learn to reach out to others to achieve my goals.

I did my second year of work experience at Unilever's head office, where I was able to act as a link between distributors and suppliers. It was really interesting.

At the start of your work-study programme, you're always thinking about trying to stay with the company or looking for opportunities elsewhere. I started to think during my M2 whether I wanted to stay in mass retail or do something else. But I'd already more or less made up my mind with the work placements and experience I'd already had in this field.

The first jobs after graduation

After my two years of work-study at Unilever, I was offered a fixed-term position. I was a bit scared about it, so I turned it down. I lived near Paris and the job on offer was in Le Mans, which wasn't ideal.

Two months before the end of my studies, I was offered a permanent contract that followed directly on from my work-study placement. So I was taken on at Pasquier brioches.

I'm moving from a company like Unilever, which has a very international scope, to a company that has more of an SME feel, even though it's open to the international market. I think that's when I started to develop a product ethic.

I also enjoyed being able to get in touch with any level of hierarchy in the company without necessarily wondering about the hierarchy. That's why I stayed with brioches Pasquier for 3 and a half years.

From Pasquier to a start-up

I wanted to change companies because I had no opportunities for advancement. On several occasions I applied for positions for which I was shortlisted and in the end they recruited someone internally. I was a bit depressed at the time about these rejections.

And finally I got a message from the HR manager at Yooji who offered me a job as an area manager.

I didn't know the company at all at the time. The position offered had more responsibility than the previous one. I passed all the interviews with flying colours and I've now been with the company for over 6 months.

I manage the Paris Ouest area as an area manager, mainly supermarket and hypermarket shops. I also have a manager's hat as I supervise a work-study student who is in Normandy, my favourite region.

I manage both his objectives and my own, which are to grow sales for our shops and the company in general.

Growing in a new sector

I sell frozen foods in portions for babies. I don't have any children myself and those around me are grown up so I wasn't familiar with the concept. 

Yooji is an SME based in Bordeaux that has its baby food produced in Agen. These are organic products sourced mainly in France. Offering them frozen avoids food waste as they are sold in portions. 

This packaging also allows us to have several types of product in the same packaging. And, of course, the quality of the ingredients also makes it possible to feed your child in a healthy way. 

In the last few months, I've learnt a huge amount about baby food. 

Discovering a managerial temperament

On the sector manager part, I already had experience.

As for management, I'd never had any exact training on the subject but I think I have natural leadership. 

I like taking decisions and I find these new assignments really challenging. 

Putting ethics first

For a very large company like Unilever, it's very complicated to be CSR on all subjects. 

For an SME, it's simpler to have a positioning on CSR.

This aspect is important to me because as a sales person, you have to believe in the products you sell to your customers. 

When I was at EM Normandie, and I was part of the network office, I was complimented, "I know where I come from and I know where I'm going in life". It's a leitmotiv that still drives me today. I think it's important to keep it in mind throughout your career.
 

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