"Keep your eyes open and look at the bigger, long-term picture. Consider viewing your career through a 10+ year window, not just what role you want to be doing this year or the next." – Anthony Colant, National Account Manager, ITW Food Service
When Anthony Colant interned with ITW’s Food Equipment segment in college, he realized it was his dream job. By taking ownership of his career and becoming an expert in his role, he became a National Account Manager at ITW.
Tell me about your background and how you started your career at ITW.
I first heard about ITW when I was in college when I met someone who was a current employee within ITW’s Food Equipment segment. His excitement about his role and the variety of different opportunities available sparked my interest in working for the company.
I started my own career at ITW as an intern the summer before my senior year of college. I did rotations throughout the segment, spending a few weeks with various businesses and product lines within Food Equipment. I got to test products and spend time with different sales reps out in the field.
Overall, I got to know the business well. During that internship, I really enjoyed learning about the ITW culture and the depth of opportunities that the company had to offer. Upon graduation from Miami University, I accepted a full-time position at ITW. I spent 18 months as a Sales Trainee before moving into a Territory Sales Manager position at Hobart.
From there, I spent a few years working with our Vulcan Cooking brand as a Sales Development Manager and gained invaluable experience working inside one of our product lines. I really enjoyed working closely with our customers and providing differentiated solutions to help improve their businesses.
What do you do today?
My current role is National Account Manager for ITW’s Food Service segment. My accounts are large food service chains. I travel to visit our customers or work on a new product with them. Sometimes I am in the field overseeing the installation of our products, or I am previewing a new concept the customer is designing. I am the bridge between customers and the product lines that I represent.
What excites you most about your role?
The thing I like most about my job is working directly with our customers. It is exciting to see a project that I have worked on with them be implemented. When I first started, my biggest project was a national restaurant adding dishwashers to all their stores. I was very excited to work with their team on the logistics and testing of our products, and watching the project become a reality in thousands of stores.
I also enjoy working very closely with engineering – a lot of the products that go to my customers tend to require some kind of customization, or what ITW would call Customer-Back Innovation. For a customer that wants a lot of customization, I take their needs and bring them back to the engineering team. It is my job to then bridge the gap between engineering and the customer to meet their needs with a finished product.
How did taking ownership of your career allow you to get where you are today?
Taking ownership of my career allowed me to experience different divisions within the Food Equipment Group. Throughout my career, I have had great mentors who encouraged me to seek opportunities within the company and broaden my experiences.
My first manager during my internship really gave me ownership over my projects and the ability to be independent. I continued to talk to him about what I was interested in and he allowed me to steer my training toward those goals. When a sales role opened up, I was ready for it, and I had already laid the foundation for that position. He was also very focused on introducing me to other people in different roles throughout the company, so that I learned as much as possible and had a variety of experiences.
What is some advice you have for people trying to make the most of their careers?
Keep your eyes open and look at the bigger, long-term picture. Consider viewing your career through a 10+ year window, not just what role you want to be doing this year or the next. Instead, look at where you would like to be in the future and map out a way to get there. Other than that, the advice I received when I first started at ITW has still held true in every role I have had: Strive to be an expert in your role, do what you say you are going to do and be nice, while having fun.