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What does an account manager do? A day in the life at Cargill.

Read Time: 6 minutes

May 09, 2024


Spotting and addressing the latest market and consumer trends. 

Crafting and pitching novel menu items.

Delivering customers’ products on time (and sometimes in the middle of a storm).

Sound like a lot? To a Cargill account manager, it’s all in a day’s work.


What is an account manager?

At most companies, an account manager’s role is to build relationships with customers. 

At Cargill, account managers go further. They turn transactional exchanges into strategic partnerships by deeply getting to know customers, proactively meeting their needs and identifying opportunities to create shared value.

Account managers cultivate some of our most important relationships: helping farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, foodservice operators and retailers grow. Each is a friendly face, connecting customers to Cargill’s extensive portfolio of products and services. 

Their days start (and end) with customers on their minds. Managing customer relationships requires patience, resilience and deep industry knowledge to spot opportunities for growth.

Variety comes with the territory. Account managers work with teams in research and development, supply chain, marketing and more to ensure our customers get what they need today and in the future. They handle contracts and sales targets, manage risk and test new solutions. They visit customers, monitor competitors, and stay up to date on the latest industry trends. 

What’s that like? Follow along for a day in the life of a key account manager.


8:06 a.m.: Fast-tracking the day’s priorities

A Cargill account manager bites into a new menu itemAyako Kato tests a new menu item proposed for her customer. Ayako Kato is starting her workday on the rails.

The commercial general manager for Cargill’s protein business in Asia and Europe is riding an over-crowded commuter train in Tokyo, Japan. 

She's also prepping for an important meeting with her dedicated customer, a well-known fast-food restaurant chain. 

Ayako is excited to present a retooled recipe to the customer. She and her teammates have researched consumer trends, found new flavors and created sustainable options for an upcoming seasonal menu. And this morning, Ayako is preparing to answer any questions the customer might have. 

"It's important for me to be a proposer, not the perceiver,” Ayako says. “I don't just wait for directions from the customer, but always bring the voice of consumers into the conversation. I look at how our products can meet market expectations."


9:24 a.m.: Reeling in valuable insights for our customers

A Cargill account manager meets with a customer at his fish farm in NorwayTommy Dalheim (right) meets with an aqua nutrition customer.

Like most days, Tommy Dalheim is on the road to visit a salmon farmer in Norway, a customer of Cargill’s aqua nutrition business

The sales manager helped build this relationship into a fruitful one — including a multi-year deal to supply all the fish farmer’s salmon feed. As always, he’s checking in to see how things are going and to better understand their future needs. 

When he arrives, he is part aquaculture market whiz, part educator — and all customer-driven. He answers the customer's questions on ingredients and combinations to best meet the nutritional needs of fish. He equips his customers with the latest product knowledge. 

What he doesn't know on the spot, he can find by consulting consult with technical support leads — who bring deep product expertise. This collaborative effort empowers customers to make informed purchasing decisions, reinforcing the value of product knowledge.

"What motivates me is the opportunity to see that customers become long-term customers, that they are satisfied, that we develop our customer relationship and how Cargill as a supplier can help them achieve their strategic goals," Tommy says. "Good feed is the most important prerequisite for animal health, and it's also the key driver to make farmed salmon even more sustainable.”


10:17 a.m.: Evading the storm 

A Cargill account manager meets with a customer at his fish farm i A Cargill account manager holds roast beef that she supplies to her customer. NorwayShelly Thompson helps source protein for her customer, a grocery store chain.

Shelly Thompson is checking the weather. 

An impending storm is threatening on-time delivery of eggs, turkeys and ham to grocery stores in the affected area. Delays would be disastrous, especially ahead of the Easter holiday that relies on these food must-haves.

That’s why Shelly, a key account executive for our protein business in North America, is in constant contact with her grocery store chain customer and our supply chain team. Together, they've started to re-route deliveries to avoid potential storms. 

"I have had to thread the needle to manage the customer's expectations while working behind the scenes with our internal teams to provide insight into what we need to do to meet those expectations — without breaking trust on either side of the equation,” Shelly says. "In these instances, I rely on honesty and empathy. I think that approach works to maintain trust."


11:44 a.m.: Delivering value beyond a sale

A Cargill’s account manager is responsible to bringing solutions to their customersHeldrey Dregoti discuss solutions for customers with his teammate Ivam Lima. Heldrey Dregoti often knows his customers’ opportunities better than they know them themselves. 

In fact, that’s part of his job as a category account manager in our food solutions business in Brazil. There, his team continually discusses potential solutions to help their customers succeed. 

Today, he is sharing insights about the cocoa market with his customer, a popular candy maker. Cargill provides chocolate and other ingredients that go in sweet treats. Heldrey helps them navigate market uncertainty so they can make the right decisions — even if it doesn’t lead to a sale today. 

It’s one of many ways Heldrey and account managers like him build trusting relationships with our customers. 

“This is the differentiator that most often helps us to be the partner of choice,” Heldrey says. “I shape my customer service and try to deliver what is of value to them at the end of the day in a personalized way.” 


1:30 p.m.: Prepping for a customer taste-test

A meal of beef and broccoli served on a bed of rice.Cargill works with foodservice customers to deliver menus that appeal to consumers of all ages.

In the customer’s studio kitchen, Ayako preps 20 new food samples — unique items that appeal to Gen Y

It’s a special request from the customer to appeal to a growing customer niche. She knows her team has nailed the challenge, and she’s excited for the customer to taste-test what she and her team have cooked up.

“Observing social media platforms and pouring over data from our talented insights team has helped me understand what younger generations are crazy about,” Ayako says. “This has helped me come up with cool new concepts for menu building.”

Any new menu item must be delicious and quickly prepared. Once the customer chooses their favorite sample, Ayako will help ensure the new food products and preparation instructions get delivered swiftly. 

Who are Cargill’s customers?

Cargill serves a diverse range of customers — supplying products, services and solutions. They include:

  • Consumers
  • Farmers, growers, producers and ranchers
  • Foodservice: distributors, chains and local restaurants
  • Manufacturers: cosmetics, food and beverage, industrial and pharmaceutical
  • Retailers: distributors, grocery stores and industrial retailers
Learn more about Cargill products and services.


2:26 p.m.: Scoping out news he can use

A sunset on a fish farm in the North Sea.The sun sets on a North Sea fish farm where Cargill supplies aqua feed.

Back at his home office, Tommy watches the recording from a recent sales meeting. Many gems of wisdom were shared, and he jots down a few notes. He’s particularly interested in proteins and fish oil alternatives in development — they could be interesting novel sources of sustainable ingredients for fish feed, he thinks.

He also combs through the latest industry newspapers, journals and newsletters that flood his inbox each day. He notices one of his customers has achieved a big win. He sends a news clip and a note of congrats to his key contact. 

“You must be solution-oriented and be able to help the customer find new solutions,” Tommy says. “A big part of that is having deep knowledge of the aqua nutrition industry.”


3:33 p.m.: Shipments en route, crisis averted

Cargill turkeys featured in many holiday meals.Holiday feasts often feature delicious turkeys provided by Cargill.

Shelly sends another message to her customer, her fifth of the day: an alternative route is in place and stores will receive their deliveries without delay. She can sense a sigh of relief in the appreciative response she receives back from the customer. 

The storm won’t stop families across the U.S. from enjoying their egg decorating and savory turkey meals as planned.

“I am a classically trained chef, and always thinking about food’s role in people’s lives,” Shelly says. “I am always glad when I can come up with a solution that helps to keep the customer’s product on the shelf.”


5:04 p.m.: A new lead to end the day

A child holds a handful of jelly candy which includes ingredients supplied by Cargill.Cargill supplies ingredients for customers’ indulgent candy recipes.

Heldrey gets a call from a customer. That market opportunity he had showed them earlier? They want to pursue it. And they could use his counsel on how best to move forward.

A new lead is a good way to close out the day.

“We as account managers have a fundamental role to be a trusted consultant,” Heldrey says, “and point out ways for our customers to succeed and continue to grow.”

Are you interested in a sales role at Cargill? View open roles and learn how you can join our team of professionals.


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