David Whitaker


David WhitakerIt’s Monday at our Cambridge office and David Whitaker, our #leadinglight, is looking energetic despite having stepped off a plane 48 hours previously where he spent a busy week at his head office in India.

We have a lot to catch up on. David’s career has sky rocketed since we first met at a workshop we ran in 2012 for executives who mid recession, were looking for help and advice on marketing themselves in a sluggish job market.

David recalls “As a sales and marketing professional I thought my CV was quite good however I was keen to take all the help I could get.  How wrong I was about my CV!  After a few hours I realised I was missing a trick.  Instead of thinking of myself from a marketing perspective and how my skills could benefit an organisation, I had fallen into the trap of writing an autobiographical CV that wasn’t getting me interviews.”

Bio – David started his career at ICI Paints in Purchasing then moved into Marketing for Commercial Vehicle Paints. After ICI, David started what has so far been a 27-year career in the Fragrance and Flavour Industry with one of the leading companies in sales working in both UK and the Netherlands. He spent two years selling for a UK Chemicals Distributor before a long 16 year spell with IFF working as European Sales Manager and Global Product Manager. Following redundancy in the UK, David spent one year working for a Dutch Company as head of sales before joining Eternis Fine Chemicals last year where he is VP Sales & Marketing.

Why we nominated David as a #leadinglight:

  • “People do business, not companies” is David’s mantra. He is less focussed on transactional sales – it’s more about the relationship and trust he has with his customers. This approach builds on what is best for both parties rather than being totally price dependent.
  • His positive attitude when the chips were down in his career.  “Being made redundant didn’t do me any harm.” During the workshops he thought not only about his own needs, but those of all the other delegates many of whom he has stayed in touch with and supported.  Displaying a positive attitude rubs off on others
  • Choosing to join a smaller entrepreneurial business based in India as their first Europe based Global Vice President rather than settling for a less risky, more predictable position in a European company. He is enthusiastically contributing to its growth by sharing his expertise and helping transform the culture to reach a global audience.  His colleagues are delighted with how well he has fitted in.  Despite not really enjoying very spicy food, he just gives it go and tries whatever is put in front of him.
  • His humility and self-awareness.  Whilst David was out of work, he witnessed a family having to deal with the tragedy of a child’s sudden death through illness and a mental health issue within his own family. These events had a profound effect on him making him reassess what was important in life. He now asks himself “get some perspective, what are you getting so wound up about?”

People and training that have influenced David:

David feels he always has lots more to learn and loves a challenge.  “If a course unsettles you, knocks you off your rhythm and makes you examine how you do things, that’s a success.”

Apart from a Product Management Course at the CIM and the two days with Career Ambitions, he recently spent an intensive week on a Relationship Management Program run by Homi Mulla (in India) on how behaviour influences results. He is now ‘on a journey’ to continually learn how to get the balance between people and results right and as important, how to give and take good critique (as opposed to criticism).

David’s nominations for career attributes for the future:  be honest in everything you do, be open to learn and understand what you don’t know, satisfy whatever needs your customer has.

Nominated and modelled by Lindsey Reed and Katherine Wiid

If you know someone who has inspired you, why not nominate them as the next #leadinglight? To read about our other #leadinglights, click here


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