Sheragime Keshavarzian (or Sherry for short) is CCL’s newest team member, joining the company just a few weeks ago. He is charged with the task of developing CCL’s technology services, collectively branded CCL-Tech. Here’s your opportunity to get to know Sherry and find out how he plans on approaching this important job.
Tell us a little about your work background
For the last 5 years I’ve worked in the Education sector, but not as a teacher. My job involved procurement to Public sector, Independent and LEA schools. I managed a portfolio of accounts and had responsibility for making sure that our clients (the schools) received the very best resources.
Prior to that, I worked within the FMCG sector; mostly in client-facing business development roles. This brought me into everyday contact with large food companies like Heinz, supermarkets, and major beverage brands.
However, if we rewind back to the very beginning, I initially studied business, which led me to work in the music industry. First, here in London and later on in Australia as an A&R and promotions consultant for distribution companies and then for music companies, such as Sony, Shock and Roadrunner Records. In these roles, I oversaw numerous marketing campaigns, distribution and sales of assigned artists and licensed recordings to media and TV. I have always been fond of music, fascinated with vinyl, cassette tapes and the advent of industry technology. I grew up listening to Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd and Nick Drake with my dad, and together we would critique the songs and their story telling record covers; hours of fun. In my 20s – 30s I was also a DJ, which over time, enabled me to travel the world and perform for party goers in London, Ibiza, Spain, Italy, Bali and Los Angeles. I had the pleasure of performing with some inspiring and much-admired artists. I also briefly worked in the film industry, creating new markets and building revenue through product placement and music in some well-known films, documentaries and TV shows.
I left the creative industry following the market crash in 2008 and decided to return to university and read for a music and digital arts degree, which took me into the technology world. From this, I designed and built a professional Sound and Digital Studio, through which my then business partner and I won tenders from numerous digital agencies and small to large FMCG brands such as BBC, Coca Cola and the Shakespeare Globe Theatre.
To cut a long story short, I have a broad range of experience covering many different industries and sectors and I’m sure this will help me in my new role at CCL.
We hear you’ve known Rudee for some time
That’s true. We’ve known each other since we were very young; I think we were in our early 20s. Rudee was core to my nights out and he introduced me to some great music and dance moves. We have always stayed in touch, even while I was in Australia for seven years. On my return, I found re-settling into the UK hard. In some ways it was like returning to an alien land, so much had changed. But thanks to Rudee and our mutual love of football (that would be Arsenal) and music, slowly, slowly, I settled back in and our friendship took off from where we had left it.
Over the years we’ve had many conversations about how CCL was evolving, growing and developing. In fact we’ve been talking for a couple of years about me joining this fantastic team at some point. With the business increasingly focusing on eCommerce and digital logistics, the right moment finally arrived!
Tell us about what you’ll be doing at CCL
My role is to manage the CC Collect and CCL-Tech B2B technical sales division and take this to market with a big educational piece; our objective, to gain further market-share for our company. But for the first few months, my most important task is to fully understand the technology and business as a whole, to assess where we can make efficiencies and improve processes. This will help drive success, strengthening our business.
As a long-established company, we have a detailed understanding of the customer’s environment, business issues and challenges. In our products and services, we demonstrate unique capabilities and solution. But it is critical too, that we establish effective relationships and communications with our customers, to gain – and retain – their commitment and trust.
At the moment I’m looking at what we do and how we do it, and thinking through where there may be further opportunities for CCL-Tech. In particular, I’m focusing on Asia and Latin America, as I believe we need to commit resources to developing our presence in these emerging markets.
Is there a key or priority project?
One early focus area for me is the issue of collection of duties and taxes from consumers. People buy online without fully understanding costs associated with importation. Sometimes all the costs are included in the purchase price they pay, but not always. This is where CCL can help both companies and consignees, as we have an ideal payment processing solution.
In the first instance, the consumer/consignee receives an email notification from CCL, asking them to contact us or log on to our payment App, CC Collect, and pay the duties and taxes they owe. Those who understand the system will know what to expect. But when this email comes as a surprise, that’s when problems can arise. Consignees can be disconcerted by an unexpected request for payment and it’s not unusual for people to fear that it’s a scam.
My priority will be to help develop clear communications which effectively inform the consignee of their responsibilities and most importantly, address this fear that they are being somehow scammed. We need to educate the consumer, as well as build trust in the CCL brand, in order to reassure this growing base of eCommerce customers, that this is a legitimate and necessary element of the purchase and importation process.
What do you particularly enjoy about working at CCL?
It’s early days, but already I can see how exciting it’s going to be. Joining the team at such an important stage in the evolution of its technology business will bring both challenges and opportunities, and I’m excited, ready to ‘get stuck in’ and deliver value.
What really drew me into this were the many conversations I had with Rudee. His passion for the business shines through, as does his knowledge and vision for its future. Working for someone who is passionate and also a good leader is important to me.
We’ve heard you’re a bit of a traveller – tell us more
Yes, I enjoy travelling, meeting people from across the world and understanding their culture and energy. Some say that travel broadens the mind, but I believe it also helps to put your own life into perspective.
I’ve recently returned from a special adventure in Madagascar. My wife and I had been planning it for some time, as we wanted to do something more gritty than a conventional beach holiday or resort, for our honeymoon. We were attracted to the raw beauty of the island, its culture, music and wildlife. Once there we also learned about their politics and the struggles people face in their daily lives. Many live in poverty, which was heart-breaking to see. But it also showed us how important it is, to have a ‘can-do’ attitude. We decided we wanted to experience the island and its people for ourselves. We trekked for a week through small villages dotted around this vast land and its rainforests, meeting locals and their families. It was exhausting but also fascinating. After that we needed a rest, so we chilled out for a few days on a beautiful secluded island off the north west coast of Madagascar.
How do you see your future with CCL?
My primary focus is to get fully involved in my work and play an integral role in growing the technology business and taking the company forward. I recognise that my friend Rudee has placed his trust in me, and that gives me huge impetus and commitment to make a success of this fantastic opportunity. I want to make a real contribution to the company’s future, as I see myself here for some time to come.
Lastly – and we ask everyone this – do you have a favourite saying or mantra?
I do, and it’s very important to me. It’s… Smile at the world, and the world will smile back.
I’m a big advocate of looking outward with positivity. If you have an issue in the morning, or if something is bothering you, you can leave the house bogged-down in thinking about it. You might walk or travel with your eyes on the ground, and miss the world around you.
But if you put your worry-baggage away and look outward, smile and interact with the people around you, you will be repaid in ways you never expect.