In our regular series, big cheeses remember when they were little Babybels
Hi, Kimberley! Who are you and what do you do?
I am Kimberly Cole, and I’m a global sales and marketing exec with 30+ years experience.
What was your #MyFirstMcJob?
Working as an Avon lady in Melbourne with some of my school friends.
What did you have to do?
Effectively door-to-door sales. We’d walk around, put Avon books through letter-boxes, come back, knock on the door and say: “Can I have my book back, or are you going to order something?”
What were the perks of the job?
Getting all these little samples. We’d pool our orders to get volume discounts and win prizes. I won a display case for most sales one month/quarter. That was very impressive! So we had our own little syndicate of Avon ladies.
What did you spend your first paycheque on?
Clothes and going to the movies!
What was the funniest thing that happened?
One old lady would order every single month. God knows what she did with it all. Maybe she was just a hoarder, because she ordered so much! She’d often put in an order for $100 worth. She lived in this tiny little house and was also a super chain smoker, so it was just very bizarre. I’d go in to and have a cup of tea and a chat. I think she just liked the company.
What skills did you learn that you still use today?
It took a lot of confidence to knock on people’s doors. I later went onto a job that was in market research where I had to knock on the door and ask to speak to the person whose birthday was closest to that day’s date, to ensure they got random sampling, which confused everyone! When I try to get my sales team to do cold calling, they all hate it. It makes me think: when I did cold calling, I wasn’t even behind a phone and would have the door slammed on me.
Why is alumni important to you personally?
Wherever I travel, I’ve always got people to catch up with. From a business development perspective, they help me connect or understand what’s going on in a particular market. From a personal perspective, it means I never have to eat alone!
Why is alumni important generally?
Boomerang hires — employees who went off because they thought the grass was going to be greener, but then return — are invaluable because they can hit the ground running that is a lot faster than trying to train someone from zero.
What would happen if you did your old job again today?
I think a lot has changed in the world since I was an Avon lady. I think people would be quite shocked if I came and knocked on their door and gave them a catalogue. But now that everything is becoming retro, maybe it’s all going to come back?
If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, what would you say?
I didn’t listen as well as could, and I probably missed some good advice and opportunities along the way. So I’d say: “Listen to those around you!”