Interview with Conor O'Malley - Group Executive Corporate Services and Logistics at National Foods Limited

Nick Hindhaugh, founding Director of Six Degrees, sat down with Conor O'Malley of National Foods, to reflect on the year just passed and discuss the future.

1. 2009 was a tough year for most. What are the key business changes you have made to adapt to the economic climate?

By focussing on their customers, businesses were able to weather the economic storm and reach the targets they set for themselves in 2009. The key strategic changes I led last year at National Foods were the continuation of our cultural safety and sales and operational planning journeys, the integration of the Dairy Farmers' business, and the negotiation and subsequent implementation of the Linfox 10 year contract.

2. What is your outlook for 2010 and beyond?

2010 is already shaping up to be a year of recovery, and companies are keen to ensure their key talent is retained. Beyond 2010, I believe that if companies continue to innovate and focus on their customers, their cash flows will continue to prosper.

3. What are the greatest challenges facing your specific industry/disciplines?

The key challenges facing the supply chain are the continued evolution of consumer requirements, the ability of companies to invest in their physical and IT infrastructure (given the restraints on lending), working with key trading partners in a commercially collaborative approach, and getting the best people to achieve the results needed to deliver shareholder value.

4. What are the key skills and attitudes you will be looking for in candidates in 2010?

The right fit. Not all companies and roles are the same, so it is critical that both the company and the candidate evaluate each other in terms of their requirements. I always look for somebody who is capable of doing the job, has researched the organisation and who matches their skills and experience to the values and culture of the organisation.

5. How do you recruit and retain talent?

When recruiting you should always ensure the position is well thought out and will genuinely add value to your organisation, as well as being of long-term interest for the candidate. It is also important to have a great induction procedure so the candidate gets a good first impression of your organisation.