NAMA Emerging Leaders

Shivani Gupta, Division Controller
Canteen Vending
MBA, Masters in Accountancy

1. What are the skills you use the most in your career?
Since I’m a finance professional, using my technical skills is a given.
However, some of the management skills I think are very important include: the ability to collaborate and synergize, whether with sales, IT, operations, or clients.

2. How did you get into the vending and refreshment services industry?
I got into the industry based on a call from a recruiter and, the rest is history. I’m certain I made the right choice! This is an evolving industry, and I love every minute I’m part of it. I greatly value the fact that I work for a company that has such a big focus on developing people and providing endless opportunities.

3. Give us an idea of your role and key responsibilities:
My core responsibility is to handle all financial activity in the Mid-West Region. That includes managing a full team of smart finance professionals, making sure the financial statements are correct, and managing the budget process and M&A activity. Also, I work to ensure we stay true to our strategy and provide the most pertinent information to all players as quickly as possible so we can drive information-based decision making.

A big part of my job is also to help create the right culture where people embrace new ideas, take care of their teams, communicate openly, and have a passion for results.

4. What does an average day for you include?
As most folks in the industry would agree, there is no average day in our industry! There are days when I work by myself in my office with my head buried in my laptop, others when I’m out and about visiting branches and spending time with my team.

5. What are the biggest challenges you face in your business?
The biggest challenge facing us right now involves industry regulations. There are multiple proposals to promote healthy products in vending. I think there is a big wave from consumers towards healthier products, but balance is necessary. Consumers still want some of the indulgent, core products including snacks, coffee, and soda. We cannot change faster than our consumers, and this shift needs to happen over time.

6. What are the greatest opportunities?
Our industry is going through an evolution with a big push on innovation. New technology and concepts, like office coffee and micro markets, have opened up so many possibilities. We also finally have tools to get a lot more insight into our sales and what customers want. Newer products are entering the channel attracting newer consumers. These open up a host of opportunities in terms of growth, effectiveness, and efficiency.

7. Moving forward, what are your personal/professional goals?
I want to continue to learn and grow as our industry evolves. I’ve been blessed with great mentors and opportunities that have been instrumental in my professional development.

On a broader scale, I want to be involved in the community and industry to see how I can add value. I think the stronger and more mature the industry, the stronger the players in the industry get. The industry attracts more talented people and it becomes a more interesting work environment.

I’m a part of the WIN advisory council and would like to promote workplaces built on talent and skill rather than gender or race.

8. Could you provide us with an idea of the most memorable work experience(s) you’ve had?
I’ve had many amazing moments. When I started out in the industry, I was completely shocked by how hard everybody worked!!! But we have so much fun on a daily basis and every day is an experience in itself- never a dull moment holds so true.

9. What is your advice for young people starting their careers in the industry?
This is a tough, but fun industry. I would advise new people to try and learn the industry and the business from multiple aspects. Also, bring your passion with you if you’re just starting out.

As previously published in NAMA’s InTouch Magazine.

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