Monica Chia started Karimix to bring back simple flavours to the foodservice industry. She works with chefs to create simple flavours with a twist for her clients to use in their branded ranges. It’s the twist she adds that’s trendsetting (keep that trade secret quiet okay?) As a self-confessed work-a-holic it’s no surprise she won our Rising Star of the Year Award. We grabbed her for a quick interview.
Tell us a bit about your career journey to date?
I had quite a radical career change due to being fed-up with working in a male-dominated industry, where I was constantly undermined. I joined a friend and set up a business in food manufacturing as it’s always been a passion of mine. Eventually, I was able to give up my day job completely and I bought out my partner when she retired. This gave me the freedom to restructure business strategy and set new targets - all of which I’ve met.
What are the top 3 challenges you’ve faced as a leader and how have you overcome them?
One challenge is bringing together the range of different personalities that make up a business - from factory floor workers to office staff and managers. I try to encourage good working relationships by having one staff room for everyone.
Finding a new site for the business when the temporary site became too small, with a very limited budget and big ideas and objectives was incredibly difficult. I saved, borrowed and took on extra consultancy work to fund the move.
Aiming for the top and trying to achieve the highest accolade for food manufacturing along with developing a brand that sits well amongst the big household names. I’m proud to say we achieved Grade A global accreditation this spring and the brand now has much better awareness nationally.
How do you bounce back from rejection and the challenges?
I like to step back and rethink the problem, restructure my approach to it, and plan a different route to reaching that same objective. It’s all about how you frame things.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your career to date?
To have faith in myself and the courage to push on when times are hard.
What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry?
Have the courage to go after your goals and understand that you might reach them in an entirely different way to what you first thought. Be open to this.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
AHHHH! This is a toughie. I’ll admit, I live, breath and sleep work. My dear friends will often step in to break this cycle if they feel I’m getting overloaded. Also, now I have a fabulous partner who I want to share a life with, I make sure we have Saturday to ourselves and only a little work on Sunday if required.
How have you found mentors and sponsors to support you in your career?
I’ve found that mentors have been most supportive when discussing specific issues, as they can share their experience and opinion. My family has been amazing, but I don’t think they fully understand my determination to succeed.
If you want to make connections with successful ladies like Monica, there’s no better place than at the Forward Ladies Awards Grand Final. Held in Leeds at the Royal Armories on the 1st December, it’s set to be a fabulous celebration of women in business! Find out more and book your ticket here.