Teresa Arbuckle is Managing Director at Beko Plc.
Joining Beko Plc in 2011, she is the only female at the helm of a UK white goods company. She has driven Beko Plc’s success; making it the UK’s number one large home appliance brand, recommended by 95 per cent of its customers, according to Reevoo.
Having been elected as chair of the Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances (AMDEA) last year, Teresa is the association’s second ever female chair, dedicated to enhancing safety and innovation within the industry.
Committed to supporting women in business, she has led enrolling female colleagues into Beko’s Women in Leadership course and is a supporter of the UN’s ‘He for She’ campaign, part of the UN’s Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP).
Teresa Arbuckle has over 20 years’ experience working with leading consumer brands and global blue-chip companies such as Premier Foods and Heinz.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I lead the team at Beko Plc, the UK’s number one large home appliances brand, as Managing Director for UK and Ireland. It’s an exciting place to work, with a real focus on consumer needs and driving innovation. We also try to make it a great learning environment where our staff can find rewarding and challenging careers – so I’m lucky to have been with the company for almost eight years since joining as Marketing Director in 2011.
After being promoted to Managing Director in early 2015, I now oversee our 265 staff members over four sites, ensuring we maintain our market-leading position and that we create an enriching environment for our employees. In both positions I have driven growth; by delivering a great value for money message for the Beko brand, while supporting more premium brands for consumer’s individual needs, as well as diversifying into new categories like Small Domestic Appliances and Personal Care (key new lines launching this Autumn for Beko and Grundig).
My parents are originally from Spain but I grew up in the Deep South in Birmingham, Alabama. I learned Spanish and French, and used my language skills to help carve out an international marketing career in Europe after receiving my MBA in 1998. I learnt the marketing ropes at global blue-chip companies such as Scott Paper Company, Kimberly-Clark and Danone, which gave me a good insight into how the FMCG sector works and strong foundations for the rest of my career. After moving to the UK 20 years ago from Paris, I held key positions in Heinz (running the baked bean business!), LeapFrog Toys as VP of Marketing, and the position of Group Head of Marketing Strategy and Development at Premier Foods.
Eight years ago I received a call to work for Beko as their Marketing Director and have never looked back.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
Yes and no; I didn’t have a strict ten-year plan in place, but I always knew that I wanted to get into business management. At high school, I’d had feedback from teachers that they thought I’d be good in a leadership role – or maybe that I was stubborn and determined! I went on to study Business and Art History at Georgetown University and loved it, which led to my choice to do my Masters in Marketing at the Thunderbird School of Global Management.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Yes, I have faced challenges, having been made redundant a couple of times in my career. But the hard times make you evaluate what you really want.
I do believe that my career would have been furthered more quickly if I had been given better support regarding women in leadership earlier in my career. It is not that women are better or worse than men, just different, and need to harness their talents in a different way. This would have been very useful to me if I had understood it sooner.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
I’m proud that I’ve managed to carve out a successful career in an industry that is typically male dominated. At present, I am the only female MD of a UK white goods company, and the second ever female Chair of AMDEA (the Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Appliances). I hope by being in these leadership positions I can show other women currently in the industry or thinking about pursuing a career in the sector that it is possible to achieve success, regardless of what gender you are.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
As a busy working woman, I have multiple demanding challenges both inside and outside of the workplace. Having the support of a diverse team that understand and implement balance has therefore been a major factor in my success. Now, as a leader I ensure that my team receive the help they need to reach their professional and personal goals.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
Mentoring is a great activity to get involved with, not just for the mentee but for the mentor too. It challenges you to think about your industry from a new perspective, as well as being an extremely rewarding experience. I strongly believe that mentoring is vital to support career growth and development.
Structured training is also hugely important to ensure that personal development is prioritised. At Beko Plc for example, we offer training and development opportunities across all levels, including a training academy for our engineers, and internships every year for budding talent. We also specifically have a ‘Women in Leadership’ programme.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?
I’d like to see more support and the championing of women, particularly in leadership positions. At Beko, I’m pleased to say that with myself as Managing Director, and our R&D team headed up by my brilliant colleague Natasha Conway, we’re doing well in terms of gender parity in comparison to many businesses.
However, I know that this isn’t the case across a lot of the UK and Ireland. In manufacturing and engineering for example, the industry is predominately male. We need to invest in more emerging talent within STEM, both female and male, and support our junior colleagues with a clearly defined route to the top. For me, supporting men and women equally to achieve their potential is crucial to evening the playing field.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
I would say find a network of women and men who can support you and give advice early in your career – don’t lose touch with them as they are invaluable for the long haul.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
Beko has been the number one brand in the UK for the best part of five years, and last year we also achieved the number one group with the success of our multi-brand strategy encompassing Grundig, Leisure, Blomberg and Flavel. Our challenge in the future is to ensure that we continue to grow and satisfy consumer needs in the UK and Ireland; making people’s lives easier as the world goes more and more digital. Imagine one day not having to turn on any of your appliances as you voice control them to do all the tasks required for the day!