GERARD Wilson feels he has struck gold. As the Key Accounts Manager for SAM mouldings in Antrim, he has built his sales and marketing career within one of the Province's success stories.
A small family business, manufacturing MDF architectural mouldings for commercial and retail development throughout the UK and Ireland, the company last year won the UK Business Excellence Award.
Known in the trade as the 'business oscars', Gerard believes the reward was due recognition for the way in which the company has run a quality business in terms of sales, marketing and production.
"The company has been growing steadily and our turnover has doubled over the past four years. Being nominated for the award was a great boost for everyone working here and to actually win was amazing. I felt very proud to be sitting in the awards ceremony in London alongside such big companies as Nortel and British Aerospace. Being awarded the 'business oscar' by Princess Anne was a great slap on the back for all our hard work over the years."
Gerard initially joined the company on a placement during a graduate training course run by Parity. After graduating from the University of Ulster at Coleraine with a degree in European Business studies with Spanish he enrolled on the training programme to get an essential grounding in business before applying for his first job.
"I chose my course because I thought it was crucial to have both a language and business skills as the European Union expanded, and then I felt it was important to apply for the Parity course as it gave me a grounding in the financial, sales, marketing and IT skills that I would need and importantly, it would give me a clear idea of how an organisation works as a whole and how each department works individually within that structure."
Never seeing himself as a desk bound person or a number cruncher, Gerard chose marketing as he felt that by generating sales he would see a direct result and an end product to his work.
"When I was working here during my placement I was doing market research and gained a knowledge of the market and the customers. The boss was actually looking for a direct sales and marketing person, and when the job was advertised, I applied and luckily got the job. So just one week after the course finished I was in paid employment."
His role as a 'Key Accounts Manager' is centred around looking after some of the major accounts of company and naturally involves a lot of travel to the mainland, making presentations, organising site visits and working with and training the sales team.
To many people, getting out of the office and travelling around the country each week may be seen as a perk of the job. But Gerard Wilson isn't so sure.
"I'm on the mainland about two or three days every week. …