Q&A

CREATIVE CONVERSATIONS: David Hill, managing director, Cocoda Ltd

By Anthony Myers contact

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CREATIVE CONVERSATIONS: David Hill, managing director, Cocoda Ltd

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Cocoda Ltd specializes in the export of premium chocolate with a global network of retailers and partners. MD David Hill started his career in confectionery at United Biscuits and was mentored by Hotel Chocolat's Angus Thirlwell before setting up Cocoda in 2004.

Name:​  David Hill

Job title:​ Managing Director

Company:​ Cocoda Ltd

Website:www.cocoda.biz

Twitter url:​ N/A

Linkedin url:linkedin.com/in/cocodaltd/

Tell us about your job/company/role?

Established in 2004, Cocoda Ltd is a single B2B contact point for UK exporters and non-UK importers, distributors and retailers of fine foods and confectionery for a range of quality chocolates, confectionery and biscuits from the UK.

Cocoda is exclusively contracted to manage export sales for brands which have been carefully selected for their quality, reliability, appeal and ability to supply overseas markets. Customers are invoiced directly by the brand owners while benefiting from the services of one of the most experienced export managers in the sector.

I travel around the world selling luxury chocolates, confectionery and biscuits, so what’s not to love? Seeing the brands Cocoda sells on shelves around the world gives me great satisfaction ...

What drew you to working in the confectionery industry? (Apart from the free chocolate!)

I had a sales job with United Biscuits (including Terry’s Chocolates) in the 1980s but was fortunate to be subsequently mentored by Angus Thirlwell (Hotel Chocolat) from 1996-98. His enthusiasm and knowledge rubbed off and, via a few stops along the way gathering experience and contacts, his inspiration set me on the path to where I find myself today.

What do you love most about your job?

Put succinctly, I travel around the world selling luxury chocolates, confectionery and biscuits, so what’s not to love? Seeing the brands Cocoda sells on shelves around the world gives me great satisfaction and keeping in touch with all the people I’ve met over the years, many of which I count as personal friends rather than merely ‘colleagues in the industry’.

What do you dislike most about your job?

Those that express interest in something, request details, samples etc., and then don’t respond to any follow up emails or contact. If you’ve changed your mind, fine, but at least have the courtesy to let me know.

What is your biggest creative achievement so far?

Apart from ‘creating’ Cocoda and the niche in which it operates, I don’t see myself as particularly ‘creative’ and prefer to let the brands I’ve worked with over the years do the creative talking. One has to acknowledge where one’s own and others’ strengths lie, and the brand owners have far more effective creative resources than I do.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

I love what I do so hopefully still doing the same but with more sales in more markets!

Describe a typical workday.

There’s no such thing as a typical work day and I’d go crazy if I were at my desk 9.00-17.30 five days a week. When I’m in the office, I’m in constant touch with the owners of the brands Cocoda represents, keeping them up to date on progress and orders. I’m also in constant touch with customers and potential customers all over the world, making sure they have everything they need for securing sales of the brands, ensuring smooth transportation, arranging samples and other support activities etc. However, I’m also overseas up to 100 days each year visiting customers, retailers, trade shows or on consulting projects, which can all be different depending where I am, be it in the US, Europe, Asia, Australia or wherever, but there is no such thing as a typical work day!

What do you do enjoy doing outside of work?

Not working! Apart from the obvious cliché of spending time with family and friends which I do enjoy, I’m a keen cyclist and like nothing more than getting out and putting in the miles, especially when the sun is shining, and the wind is on your back!

What do you think will be the next big thing in the confectionery world?

Not sure but hope it’s more impressive than Ruby Chocolate.

Apple or Android?

The laptop is Windows based, but for phone and tablet, most definitely Apple.

What is your favourite book or podcast?

Don’t have one but am looking forward to receiving ‘Cultural Chemistry; Simple Strategies for Bridging Cultural Gaps’ by Patti McCarthy, which is currently on order.

Where do you stand on social media – can’t live without it, or an evil necessity?

I‘m quite active on LinkedIn as a B2B platform, and while I wouldn’t suggest every other platform is evil, I find much of it rather banal and definitely not a necessity for Cocoda.

If you could change one thing in the confectionery industry, what would it be?

Ensuring consumers understand the difference between the sugar-filled, low-quality, mass-market products, and higher quality, clean ingredient indulgence products to be enjoyed as a treat (and in moderation!)

What’s the biggest misconception about working in confectionery?

That one gets bored or sick of chocolate!

What advice would you give to other people looking to get into the confectionery industry?

Not all confectionery is created equal, but it’s a remarkably friendly industry so take time to listen and learn from those who have experience in it.

Time’s Up! Thank you David.

  • CREATIVE CONVERSATIONS is Confectionery News’ online series profiling influential people working in the confectionery industry. We want to discover what makes you tick and to inspire others to follow your path.
  • Please contact CN editor Anthony Myers​ to put yourself or a colleague forward.

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