Can you tell me who you are and what your job role is at Vernacare?
I am Emma Gill and I'm Vernacare's Business Development Manager for Latin America. This involves working with our distributor partners in each country to look after our existing customers and introduce our broad portfolio of infection prevention products into new healthcare facilities.
Many hospitals in Latin America currently hand wash, or chemically disinfect plastic bedpans and urinals, so we offer an alternative that ensures best practice from an infection prevention and environmental perspective. A huge part of our task is to educate clinicians and estates managers about the Vernacare single-use system for toileting immobile patients, which is accepted globally as the safest, cleanest and most environmentally friendly method available.
Where were you working before you came to Vernacare?
I was European Business Development Manager for Synergy Health, which was acquired by Vernacare in November 2017. The two businesses have now been fully integrated and this meant that I started my new job at the start of 2018.
My previous key account and extensive customer service experience made my new role a natural next step. It helps massively that my degree was in Spanish and I'm fluent in the language. My Madrid accent does, however, occasionally raise some smiles in Latin America, where the Spanish pronunciation is very different.
What is a typical day like for you?
I relish the fact that there's no such thing as a typical day. Spending five-days-a-week stuck in an office would be my nightmare. My passport is always in my handbag ready for the off!
I've made my first exploratory visit to Chile, Peru and Brazil, which was a great opportunity to meet our distributor partners in person and get to know them. I was able to better understand some of
our key Latin American markets and understand how I can best support our distributors.
When I'm not travelling, I'm often found on Skype or WhatsApp – communicating with our distributors. Planning and delivering training sessions takes up a lot of my time at the moment, particularly introducing new products since the Synergy Health acquisition. The Oasis® waterless bathing wipes are proving a very popular addition to the portfolio.
"I get great satisfaction from the fact that our product range helps to improve the hospital experience for patients by protecting their dignity, increasing their comfort and helping to prevent infection."
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I love the variety of my job and the opportunity to communicate with our partners and customers in different countries. I love hearing their stories and finding solutions to overcome any challenges and obstacles they may face.
I get great satisfaction from the fact that our product range helps to improve the hospital experience for patients by protecting their dignity, increasing their comfort and helping to prevent infection. It's also great to see the response we get from clinicians, who say that they would never go back to the laborious task of hand washing bedpans. They find that they have more time for patient care, which is very rewarding to hear.
What are the challenges?
Most of our Latin American customers are up to five-hours behind the UK, so as an early-bird, who's normally up and working from 6am, it's difficult to adjust my body clock to working long into the evening. At the moment I'm working both ends of the clock so feeling the need for a small Siesta during the day.
Integrating two well established businesses can be challenging, however it helps that our product ranges are complementary and we have the same commitment to quality and customer service. I'm lucky to have such supportive colleagues, who have eased my transition and provided a great induction process.
What is critical for you to ensure success?
Our distributor partners are absolutely critical to our success. They are our eyes and ears in the local market and so it's imperative that we have open communication with them, that we listen actively and support them all the way. With three Spanish speakers in our international team, we have no problem in communicating with our distributors and customers in their native language and this is really important.
Good education and training is vital to ensure that our distributors know our business and our products inside out and can be trusted ambassadors for Vernacare. In turn, they can then train and educate our customers in how to get the most out of our products and use them correctly.
Vernacare excels at customer service and quality management and our robust processes and standards ensure that we are able to replicate the same high standards we set in the UK into our international markets.
Tell us something we don’t know about you…
At one time I had aspirations to be a classical pianist, but I became distracted by other interests at University! I now play for my own pleasure at home. When I'm not making music, I'm out and about in my home village of Monton and am secretary of the local community association. This involves organising a summer festival, which is growing each year and means organising 90+ stalls.
I studied German as well as Spanish at University and our German drama group won an international competition and a three-week holiday to Germany, which at that time meant the scary crossing of Checkpoint Charlie into the East. Considering my current role, it was a good job that the guards did return my confiscated passport!