National Sales Manager / Bounce Foods & Creator / Golden Grind
What do you get when you merge intelligence, strength of mind, a tenacious wit, and a golden mo together? Confused? Well… so were we when we first met Tahli Watts, National Sales Manager at Bounce Foods, and Creator of NEW foodie phenomenon, Golden Grind.
We’ll be frank. While our nine-to-five often leads to multiple fan-girl moments, there are some that are momentously OMFG worthy. Case in point with Tahli Watts. Tahli is that kind of girl that you spot across the room at a party and just HAVE to meet her. She is infectious, brutality honest and well and truly herself. Growing up in a family of six kids, with her hero of a mum at the helm, Tahli learnt that she could be whatever she wanted to be, and do whatever she wanted to do. Not even the discovery of dyslexia by her teacher stopped her in achieving an ENTER score of 92!
Tahli defies the trite and tired notion that people with learning disabilities suffer at school, and still defies that today, with multiple high flying sales roles, and two profitable businesses under her belt, and all before the age of 30. While Tahli certainly has her hands full with her ever evolving career, it’s clear that nothing will stand in the way of her other passions, her husband Renwick, her girlfriends, and her family. We are so in love with this #careerstory. Hands down our most favourite to date.
Tahli Watt’s for President!
Keep reading for our exclusive interview…
Hey Tahli, can you tell us a bit about where you grew up and how your experience shaped the person you are, and the career that you are in today?
We moved around a lot – 13 houses before I was 18 in fact, all South East of Melbourne. I was always big into sports; track and field, gymnastics, dancing, football, and the list goes on, and on. I was one of 6 children all raised by my single Mother. I was privately educated at Sacre Coeur in Glen Iris, only because I received a scholarship to attend. I was always a bright and mature kid, with a knack for all things numbers, but I never enjoyed reading or writing. In fact, reading out loud in class rooms used to make me physically ill. And then, one day in year 12, when I was forced to read a speech that I hadn’t written, out loud at assembly as the School Sport’s captain, my English teacher picked up that there was something wrong. It was only then that I was diagnosed with severe dyslexia. This all made sense as for years my Mother and I had wondered what was wrong with my ability to read and write, when clearly I wasn’t dumb.
I excelled in Science and Maths which fortunately meant that my VCE results wasn’t too bad, in fact it was incredible high for someone that had almost failed English. I finished high school with an Enter score of 92.
Looking back there a lot of things Mum wishes we had done differently, if only I had been diagnosed early I could have received more support, but it’s interesting to see how it’s all turned out well for me, and really I wouldn’t change anything.
This story gives us a sever case of goosebumps. Dyslexia is a condition that we are hearing more and more of. It’s so common. So you touched on that you went to a private school, how was that experience for you?
So, I went to Sacre Coeur in Glen Iris. To be honest I only attended this school because I received a scholarship otherwise we would not have been able to afford it. It’s a fairly strict, all girls and intellect driven school that really didn’t suit who I am. If I had my time over, I would definitely have gone to another school, possibly a co-ed and sports/practical focused school, but everyone is different. My mum is a big believer in private education, so of course when I was offered a scholarship she really encouraged me to take it. I felt I never really fitted in, although I wouldn’t have achieved the score I did, or perhaps I would have been distracted, if I went somewhere else.
Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
No they didn’t help, in fact they probably slowed my career path down, although maybe it did help boost my VCE results due the schools average, which in turn helped me get accepted into my uni degree, Health Science and Nutrition. I remember sitting in the career advisers office searching for ideas on what I wanted to be and what subjects I needed to complete (limited by my abilities of course) and only wanting to do Medicine. So, full of encouragement the adviser allowed me to go full steam ahead for medicine even though this was always going to be a far fetch for someone who reads and writes like that of a grade 4 student. Really, she should have been exploring back up options with me, or “careers” no “degrees” like they do. I think this is one massive mistake some schools can make. Kids at 18 don’t just need to hear about degrees. Students need education on “careers” and what actual work life opportunities are out there. This is something I never received. I would love to one day, support a program that focuses on this, and doesn’t peer pressure 18 year olds to commit to very expensive, very time consuming, degrees unless they really want to.
We couldn’t agree with you more Tahli. We believe that a more holistic, all rounded approach to careers and further education choices is certainly needed in today’s world. Let’s jump over to Internships, did you complete any at school? Tell us about that experience.
I did work placement with a Doctor friend of ours which I LOVED, and I still to this day wish I could be a doctor. Although – it has had nothing to do with my career.
Did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the courses that you studied and why you chose them?
I went to Deakin University and studied Health Science and Nutrition – a four year double degree that I think has all changed now. After missing out on Medicine, I choose something science specific and linked it to my passion of food and health. I did thoroughly enjoy the course although I have never once applied it to my working career (well only just very recently with Golden Grind). Degrees can still go a long way – they look great on resumes and show employees you can achieve many things, although there probably isn’t much point in doing a specific degree, unless you know you want to do that specific job. For example a teacher becomes a teacher. I wish now I just did ‘Business’ or ‘Marketing’ something more generic, although maybe I wouldn’t have had such success with my unique dyslexic brain. I think that’s the big thing kids need to know – understand what ‘jobs’ are actually available to you at the end of your degree. The reason I have never used mine is because I wanted to get into nutrition of sports science, but there are very few paid positions (particularly for females in sport), and hence I was forced into taking a sales role so I could pay my rent.
I believe that it may be all well and good to say “I’ll just study this for now and then figure out my life later”, BEWARE – degrees can be very expensive and if you’re like me, and put the whole thing on HECS, this debt will sit against your name for a very long time.
Thank you for your honesty Tahli. Let’s dive into your actual career path. Who you have worked for, and explain any highlights.
I took my first sales role for an events company at 22 and got poached after 6 months. I moved on to another event company and still in sales (selling weddings, corporate events, functions, etc.) for about 9 months. After this time I realised that whilst I didn’t mind selling, I had no connection to events, so started looking for something to do with health or nutrition.
I then took a job at a New Zealand health beverage company and starting selling their branded waters and juices to cafes and retail shops. This was my first role in FMCG. After 6 months there, knowing I like FMCG and still enjoyed sales, I took a role at Nutrient Water, an Australian company founded by three Melbourne Boys. I really loved my time at Nutrient Water. I learnt a lot and I stayed in the role for about two years. At 26 I decided I needed more formal sales training with a bigger company, and I wanted to increase my skills so I could start applying for management roles. I hence, took a sales role with Red Bull, the kings of fun, but also renowned for their stringent sales training and techniques. I had a lot of fun with Red Bull, and I learnt a hell-of-a-lot. I stayed with Red Bull for about two years.
At 28 I knew I had outgrown the role, but I was finding it really hard to snag a management position without management experience. I also struggled to get a role with a more corporate company, and maybe that was because I was late 20’s and about to get married. But then a bit of a random position jumped out at me and I decided to give it a go. I was the Sales and Marketing Manager of a nightclub in Melbourne which seems like a bludge job but it was actually super hard. As much as I enjoyed parts of the role, the scene wasn’t for me and so 9 months in, my Mother and I decided to bite the bullet and open our own café. We created Evolve Fair Food Store from nothing and gave it our everything for 18 months when we accepted an offer to sell. At this time, we had the wheel in motion for Golden Grind but unfortunately with a mortgage and life, I couldn’t sit around and wait, so I then started applying for FMCG roles again. Maybe it was maturity, or balance of skills and experience, but late last year, Bounce offered me the role of Sales Manager for Australia. I am still with them and we have grown and achieved a lot in this short time of 1 year and I now obviously, also do a lot of Golden Grind on the side.
LOVE this career trajectory Tahli. You really define hard work and passion. Can you give us more info on how you landed your job at Bounce?
Eight years ago I had my first ever sales role in FMCG and I have worked my way up ever since (taking a break to run my own cafe for 1 year). I suppose it’s a combination of experience and hard work/results. Sales are obviously very measurable which I have always loved, as it can immediately show results and transparency between the hard work we put in, and the results we achieved. As for Golden Grind, this is pure passion and love for wanting to have my own brand. It also comes, though, after many years in the health space and having worked for myself before. Plus I attend a lot of seminars and read a lot about business. I hope to end up running not only Golden Grind but a vast array of companies and brands one day.
What is the hardest part of your current job?
The juggling act. Which is obviously very unique. It requires very good time management. If I was to comment on Bounce alone, it would be the pressure of making sales targets and still, after eight years of sales, cold calling (walking into accounts or meetings and trying to sell for the first time).
Tahli, how do you juggle all of these hats? What does a day a typical work day look like for you?
I wake at 6am and either do a yoga or long walk with my dogs. I always eat brekkie by 7.30am and then I’m ready for the day at 8am. I do 1 hour of Golden Grind emails and then start Bounce at 9am. I am either on the road selling into accounts, or meeting with key accounts/distributors, or in the office making meetings and doing admin (spreadsheets, budgets, orders, paperwork). At 6pm I go for another walk or do some house duties and then I work on Golden Grind from 6pm-8pm. 8pm dinner and bed with a book or chats with the hubby.
Wow, with such a busy life, you must have plenty of great role models. Who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?
My Mother. She raised six children on her own which is the biggest feat there is. I will be forever grateful for her love and inspiration. She still teachers me daily how to be a better person, and has helped provide me with the qualities I need. She never said “no” even with all those kids, and her philosophies and principles are the best I’ve ever heard.
What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career, and potentially want to start their own business?
Experience is key. Get “doing” rather than reading or learning. You will learn more by applying yourself to a situation/path than someone ever telling you about it or studying it. I would also say that time management is key, and always maintain a balance. Have patience, pay attention to detail, and do not be lazy. Reward doesn’t come from luck in the real world.