We catch up with SAF’s Commercial Manager, Phil Dring.
Phil, you joined SAF in 2011 as a Commercial Manager, what brought you to the company?
I previously worked as a Relationship Manager for a large corporate bank, a role that I really enjoyed. However, the impact of the 2008 financial crisis on the Banking sector created a lack of opportunity in terms of progression and personal development. I was reaching a stage in my career where treading water was not an option.
Moving to SAF could have been considered a bit of a gamble for me in that I was moving from a large Corporate organisation to what was, at that time, a relatively small team. The reality was that SAF could provide just the role I was looking for.
The skills I acquired during my time in corporate banking have of course been put to good use, but, more than that, working within a flexible and creative environment has really aided my personal and professional development. I definitely made the right move!
What does a typical day entail for you?
Typically, it can be one of two things. When it comes to supporting our retained suppliers, our remit is a national one. I will often be up and down the country meeting with our suppliers or their sales teams. This could be to discuss a strategy to best progress an opportunity or to attend meetings with their client, who may be looking for support in structuring a finance facility that meets their specific requirements and enable them to place an order.
On other days I will be in the office working on a variety of tasks, all of which will fundamentally revolve around working on existing or new funding opportunities. Days like these see me liaising with our suppliers, the client and of course the funders we work with in order to secure business.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
SAF have developed and maintained long standing relationships with a number of key suppliers. We often talk to companies about our desire to become an intrinsic part of their sales team and a large part of my job satisfaction comes from getting to a stage where this is the case.
Above this, what I enjoy most is playing an influential role in closing sales for our retained suppliers which, without our input, would have otherwise been unattainable. There are multiple instances where a transaction we have concluded has been the single largest revenue sale recognised by the supplier that financial year.
We have helped individuals and regional teams to meet their quarterly and annual sales targets through sheer tenacity and being able to provide their clients with a solution that enables the order to be placed. It is these successes and the feedback we receive from our suppliers that really makes the role enjoyable and fulfilling.
If you hadn’t pursued a career in sales, what alternative career path would you have liked to pursue and why?
Initially my intention was to take up a position in the foreign office. The application process for this takes just under a year, but it was a move I had taken seriously, so much so that I had taken a 1 year course in Mandarin to strengthen the languages element of my CV.
At this time, I had no family commitments and the thought of living and working abroad was something that really appealed to me. To a certain extent, it still does! When SAF set up their Singapore office I’ll be the first to put my name in the hat.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I have two young children who have a social life that frankly I’m envious of! They go to lots of clubs and my spare time revolves mostly around them.
On those occasions where I have some time, I still love going to the gym or playing a game of footie with my friends. We may not be what we once were but it’s still a good laugh!