Craig Manson: selling from the heart

Craig Manson: selling from the heart

After 20 years in diverse sales roles, Craig Manson’s career has come a full circle.

The head of sales and marketing in the consumer imaging product group at Canon started out selling cameras for a competing vendor and had even considered a photography career while at school.

Apart from cameras and Canon’s other consumer electronics; he has sold and marketed coffee, pharmaceuticals, liquor and beauty industry products but says the core skills of his trade mean the jobs haven’t been all that different.

When he switched to Canon’s consumer division after eight months on the business-to-business side, he says it felt like coming home.

“Consumer businesses are quite similar in terms of getting a product to market through big retailers. The similarities are greater than the differences in terms of the theory.

“The day to day practicalities are quite different, but if you’ve got a few brain cells it’s not that difficult to work out,” says Manson.

He says six years at hair products company Schwarzkopf were pivotal in increasing his marketing expertise and his ability to apply it to a range of sectors.

“At Schwarzkopf I was fortunate to get a lot of money put into my education, with overseas leadership, sales and marketing training. That showed through clearly how you could jump across different markets with the training you’ve got.”

People making up each industry aren’t that different either, he says.

“All industries are full of personalities and lots of egos in different places.”

Prior to Schwarzkopf, Manson completed eight years at Roche in the 1990s, gaining a company-funded post-graduate diploma in marketing.

His time there afforded invaluable experience in FMCG and grocery marketing and, more importantly, category management. He is now seeking to increase category management at Canon and has hired staff with experience in this area.

“It’s about growing the category, not just your brand, and making the whole market bigger. Grocery [retailers] are exceptionally good at it.”

Part of this approach involves buying retail scan data to increase the overall picture of the market Canon operates in.

Among the aspect of his job, Manson particularly enjoys making the most of the multinational’s global resources, while still being able to strategise locally.

“We work very closely with Canon Australia and Canon Europe. Canon has five sales organisations – Oceania, Asia, Europe, the Americas and Africa. That means we can react quickly to the global market place. Oceania is more related to Europe than anywhere else in the world, while Australia has more of an American influence.”

He also enjoys the fast pace of product development in the sector, with a perk of the job being able to test the latest models.

“It’s a very dynamic environment and I enjoy that,” he says. “We’re always taking the new stuff home to play with – it’s a buzz.”

But new gadgets aren’t the only thing taking up his free time – he has two young children to keep him on his toes, as well as a recently-bought house that he plans to renovate. However, not being big into DIY means he’ll be “tinkering around the edges” and will leave the big jobs to the professionals.

Q + A

Favourite gadget

Canon’s G7 – an SLR camera in a compact body

Favourite sports

Rugby, tennis

Favourite cocktail recipe

Passionfruit caipirinha, limes, cachca rum, sugar, passionfruit, crushed and poured over ice

If you could have a cup of coffee with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

Richard Branson or Leonardo da Vinci

If you weren’t in IT what would you be doing?

Something in a creative industry, photography is creative so I am in both

What book is on your bedside table?

Mr Nice by Howard Marks

Who is/was your mentor?

Michael Beard at Schwarzkopf Hamburg

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