Wednesday, December 27, 2017

'Schwan's People You Need to Know'

Gilland embraces change as a way to grow in his career

"Schwan's People You Need to Know" is an ongoing series of stories that share some of our employees' experiences as we celebrate our 65th anniversary and participate as a founding partner of the Minnesota Super Bowl 52 Host Committee

Dec. 27, 2017 — For nearly five years, Dan Gilland managed the communications for Schwan’s home-delivery business. He was responsible for reaching thousands of sales people in 47 states with important information regarding everything from sales promotions to new product information to safety initiatives.

But when Dan saw an opportunity to change course in his career and help grow Schwan’s Home Service, Inc.'s, mail-order business, he jumped at it.

“From hearing different people’s stories, I realized that the leaders I admire have had rich careers because they simply took whatever new challenge was presented to them, figured out how to make an impact on that project and then took the next challenge that came along,” Dan said. “This mail-order opportunity is my ‘next challenge,’ so I took it.”

Dan joined Schwan’s Home Service, the company’s home-delivery subsidiary, in 2012 after studying communications at Southwest Minnesota State University. For nearly five years, Dan and his team created videos, blogs, presentations and other materials to help employees execute Schwan’s business strategy.

In 2017, he accepted a position as sales and business development manager, with a focus on leading Schwan’s Home Service’s mail-order business.

Dan recently took some time to tell us about his career experiences, making development choices and his love of Schwan’s® Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream.

Q: What are you passionate about when it comes to leading Schwan’s mail-order efforts?

A: My job puts me in a position where I can make an impact. The mail-order business has high upside and represents incremental revenue for us. I get energized thinking about the opportunity we have with this program, and I’m excited to play a role in its development.

Q: What’s your typical day like?

A: In a sense, I am managing a small business. I need to oversee the mail-order marketing plan, operations and fulfillment execution, customer service, and our profit and loss. In a typical day, I touch all of these parts of the mail-order business. Some key tasks include: monitoring our service (customer ratings/feedback, on-time shipping, etc.), talking to our field fulfillment teams, planning upcoming marketing campaigns, meeting with partners to review the results of recent marketing activities and always monitoring our sales and costs to find opportunities to continuously improve the business.

Q: How have you grown while with Schwan’s?

A: I’ve had the opportunity to manage four different people since first becoming a leader in 2015. I’ve learned just how much a leader impacts someone’s life. You need to understand your impact and invest time and energy into that person. I’ve also learned that most people’s careers are not ladders. I used to think that you chose your function or area of expertise and you stayed in that function. I’ve learned that most rich and successful careers don’t look like a ladder but more like a jungle gym. The jungle-gym approach helps you acquire skills and knowledge across the organization. This has changed how I look at my own career development. I’ve shifted my approach from wanting to stay in communications my whole career to simply trying to excel in my current role and then take whatever new challenges are presented to me.

Q: Tell us something about your new job that most people don’t know and might find interesting.

A: While mail order is primarily for customers in our unserviceable areas, it’s also used for customers to send gifts to friends and family. I’m always interested when I read comments or when we do surveys and find out why people send our food as a gift. Often, it’s because their loved one is going through a hard time, and they know that Schwan’s food will be both practical (easy prep) and comforting to them.

Q: What’s your favorite Schwan’s product?

A: Schwan’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream (#369).

Q: Do you have any recipes you are a master of that you would like to share?

A: I like to use our chicken (especially #404 Oven-Baked Chicken Breast) to make pastas. Just mix chicken with your favorite pasta sauce and our Six-Cheese Tortellini, and top it with Parmesan cheese. Then, you can pair it with our Five-Cheese Garlic French Bread.

Q: Schwan’s is a founding partner of the Minnesota Super Bowl 52 Host Committee this year and the football season has begun. Are you a fan?

A: Yes.

Q: Which team are you hoping makes it to Super Bowl 52 next year?

A: The home team: Minnesota Vikings.

Q: What is your favorite Schwan’s Home Service product to serve at your Super Bowl viewing party?

A: Schwan’s® Oven-Roasted Chicken Wings with BBQ Dry Rub.

Q: Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know about you.

A: I’m very involved in my church’s young-adults ministry. I actually preach to this group of 60 to 100 people about once a quarter (but I’m not considering a career change!).

Q: What’s your favorite memory in all the years you’ve worked here?

A: I think it would be the very first time our mail-order channel grew sales in a period since the time I began working on the business. The feeling of seeing growth that my team’s plans and tactics played a part in driving was such a cool feeling.

Q: What are you most proud of throughout your career at Schwan’s?

A: I’ve had the privilege of leading a handful of employees. I’m most proud when I see them growing as employees and people and flourishing in the company.

Q: What do our company vision and values mean to you?

A: While we’re a large company, at the end of the day, we are still a family company. We were started by a man who had a vision for this company and built it into a beloved brand. I have the privilege and responsibility of ensuring I do my part to help us bring that vision to life, while exemplifying the values he cared about.

Q: What are you most looking forward to for the future of our company?

A: We have an incredible story to tell consumers, customers and employees. We’re a family-owned company still directed by our founder’s vision and values. We were one of the pioneers of home-grocery delivery. We have a brand that literally brings smiles to people’s faces when they think of us. I can’t wait for us to continue telling this story as we continue to grow in scale, credibility and awareness.

Q: How would you describe the culture of our company?

A: A lot of companies talk about culture; we’re a company that prioritizes culture and literally makes it a business priority. What I like most about our culture is genuinely feeling like I work at a place that cares about me and wants me to be my true authentic self.

Popular Posts