If it wasn’t for an interest in gadgets and technology, Angela Nelligan might have ended up running her own restaurant. The 29-year-old Aucklander recently returned to the country joining Cellnet as national retail account manager after working for a gourmet food distributor in London.
“I got the opportunity to meet [celebrity chefs] Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay. Gordon was just the most amazing guy. I met him at a food expo and he sat and talked to me for about half an hour. He wanted to know all about New Zealand and what foods influenced us. After meeting him I became his number-one fan and bought all his cookbooks.”
As the food distributor’s national account manager for England, she travelled around the country each month.
“Every once in a while I got to go over to Europe to buy the food.”
Nelligan says gourmet food has been her hobby since school, much to her husband’s delight as she does all the cooking and the kitchen is her domain.
Her first foray into the local technology industry lasted for five years and Nelligan was keen to return.
“I wanted to stay in distribution, but my goal was to get back into IT. It’s a bit more exciting than food at times. I just enjoy the fast pace of the industry. It’s forever changing and you always have to keep yourself up to date with the products.”
Her role at Cellnet is newly created.
“I’ll be looking after all telco and IT products on a national level for the mass retailers such as JB Hi-Fi, Noel Leeming and Harvey Norman.”
Cellnet created the role to achieve continuity across these accounts, as well as to branch out into other IT products, she says.
“The goal is to be a one-stop-shop. We also want to get down into store level so there will be lots of travelling involved.”
She says the company has a good team environment.
“In order to get any kind of traction in an account you need to gain knowledge and we have a lot of experts here. You only need to look over your shoulder and you can find someone who is an expert in a certain product.”
Returning to the IT industry has not been too daunting for Nelligan as she says fundamentally the same principles apply anywhere in distribution.
“In IT it’s a tricky one because if you’re out of the industry for three years like I was, everything changes. Before I left New Zealand I was working for a company designing voice and data networks.”
At the time, fibre optics were still being introduced and VoIP was a completely new technology, says Nelligan . “I got back and a lot of mainstream companies had adopted VoIP with the introduction of Skype lines.”
As a people person Nelligan is looking forward to meeting retailers at store level as she can’t understand why anyone would want to work from home or sit all day in the same office.
“I don’t find I have a productive day if I do that. I need to get out and build those relationships.”
And Nelligan has some exciting plans for 2008.
“There are some things I would like to change in terms of how Cellnet interacts with mass retailers. One initiative we’re doing for Harvey Norman is sending out a monthly newsletter to let them know what’s selling, what the new products are and the general direction of the products we have in there.”
Her advice for young people contemplating a future in IT is to work hard. “Knowledge is power and you need to keep yourself educated and get your hands on as many resources as possible. And use the people around you.”
Away from work, Nelligan is happy to experiment with European and Thai gourmet dishes.
“My dream growing up was to own my own restaurant or cafe, but it’s not so much a job as a complete life. When you turn a passion like that into a job, I think it kills it a little bit and I wouldn’t want that to happen.”