Updating Results

Mars Australia

  • > 100,000 employees

Kavindu Kulathunga

What I do can have a massive difference on the profitability for Mars and our customer. In my role, successful selling leads to real time results.

What's your job about?

I work in the Confectionary segment for Mars. I manage a territory of stores/businesses and ensure that they maximise their efficiency and profitability. Specifically, my role allows me to visit stores and speak to their managers about sales performances, present opportunities for them to increase profit – things like making sure their stock levels are high, accurately recorded, and capturing in store opportunities to sell more confectionary. It involves utilising key selling techniques such as negotiating, building relationships and increasing profit. I’m really able to partner with the stores and have a direct influence on how the store performs. What I do can have a massive difference on the profitability for Mars and our customer. In my role, successful selling leads to real time results.

What's your background?

I grew up in Melbourne and completed all my studies here. I was fortunate enough to go to a strong school that ‘spoon fed’ me the information that was needed to do well in school. My tertiary studies were completed at the University of Melbourne which is a huge university, and hence I really had the scope to build my own career, grow my independence and maturity. The initially adaptation to university life was difficult as the drive to succeed had to come from within as opposed to being given all the information to do well. Whilst studying, to build experience and confidence, I worked at a retail company casually, which was definitely a juggling act when exams came along. After finishing my 4 year degree with First Class Honours, I was accepted into the Doctor of Physiotherapy program which I thought would be my career. However, after the first year I realised that it really wasn’t for me. At that point I took some time off to re-evaluate what I wanted and what was important to me. I decided to apply for a couple of different graduate programs in different areas to see what fit. I knew I loved building relationships and working with people so Sales was a naturally great fit. I was lucky enough to get accepted into the Mars Graduate Program and the rest is history!

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Absolutely! I am someone that’s a bit different to the traditional, being from a science background going into sales management. It’s quite different but there were definitely transferrable skills such as time management, organisation, and negotiation skills. To be successful in Sales you need to be persistent, resilient and results focused. Sometimes, you’ll be told no so you need to be able to navigate road blocks and come up with alternate options. Interpersonal skills are also key, it’s all about building successful relationships. They’re all really transferrable and learnable skills.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

I really enjoy building relationships with new people and hence learning about their backgrounds whilst representing Mars in a really genuine way.

I love to see the fruitions of my hard work. I love building trust with the store managers to help their businesses grow and to see the real time results of these relationships. Sometimes you’re seen as somewhat of a consultant to help them grow their businesses.

I was also able to manage external merchandisers which was a great insight into managing people in my very first year of the graduate program!

What are the limitations of your job?

Sometimes you find your constantly being told no, which can really crush your spirits. It can be lots of work for minimal result sometimes. However this does create a strong sense resilience as initially you might take it personally but you realise that it’s generally not your fault. Also there is an element of physical labour as you need to move stock and build displays.

My key limitation was the isolation that is created when you’re out in the field but that’s the time when you connect back in with your colleagues and managers to reenergise and build your confidence.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • Don’t have your career path set in stone. Don’t feel pressured, if you’re thinking you want to do something, get some advice. Don’t get pressured into staying in something you don’t want to do.
  • Build relationships and your network. Try to be social and make connections with others. They were really valuable for me in helping me to make those decisions about my future career.
  • Try to get some experiences – like volunteering, working, travelling abroad, and internships. It helps you to build some perspective and just experiencing what the world has to offer.