Paul Vita

Background

Fundamentally I am a “defrocked brand marketer” who deliberately strayed into broader commercial roles and loved it. I have worked in big business (Allied Bakeries, Fererro, Hain Daniels, Lyons Seafood’s & smaller ones (Discovery Foods, Pukka Herbs, Thomas J. Fudge’s) But what really “gets me out of bed in the morning” is working with small businesses helping make them, bigger and stronger, usually in the main supermarkets.

What skills can you bring as a mentor?

I understand what it takes to be a challenger brand and genuine relish the David & Goliath challenge. I know how to grow food and drink businesses. Both top and bottom line. I understand the pressures and frustrations of having an amazing product, possibly superb branding, but little money to bring the dream to reality. I work cross functionality, bringing internal and external teams together with a common aim to excel at what they do. And have some real fun & sense of shared personal achievement in the process.

What do you think makes the difference between a good business and a brilliant business?

At the end of the day it is always about the people. And with people it is as much about attitude as functional skill, although some of that obviously helps. Beyond that, clearly an amazing, ideally differentiated product and brand helps. Conviction & belief from the brand owner and a recognition of the skills they have, and those they don’t (I have never had the guts to start a business so you are already one up on me).

If you had your time again in business, what would you do differently?

Realise how important the people around you are to success earlier in my career. You can’t do it all yourself. Have the confidence to rely less on research/data and more on instinct (danger of being in a big business). Celebrate success and have fun, as much as worry about the future. Always make sure everything you do is as remarkable as you possible can, instil this in those around you and never compromise your standards.

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Joint Managing Director, Thomas J Fudge’s