Arleth Calogero joined the West Pak Avocado family in 2016 and came from a customer service and administrative role with an apparel company that imported medical uniforms. She used her experience on the import side to take on the role of Export Product Manager at West Pak. She has since forged strong working relationships with clients and suppliers and successfully exports fruit to countries worldwide. Get to know more about Arleth and what’s involved with her position of delivering the green goodness of avocados far and wide.
What are your current responsibilities in your role as Export Product Manager?
I am responsible for overseeing West Pak’s export program to countries like Japan, Korea, the Middle East, etc. My job begins with the pricing and volume offer to our customers, then progresses to the harvest planning, processing, and shipping, all the way to the order’s arrival to our customers. I also work with suppliers and even other packinghouses on purchasing fruit as needed to fulfill client orders.
What is the best aspect of your role?
The interaction with customers: all destinations have different expectations of avocados, consuming them in different ways. Some of them have never eaten a ripe avocado, so I love the idea of sharing a good guacamole recipe with them so they can experience the authentic taste of an avocado.
What is the most challenging part of what you do?
Every day is always something different, even unexpected, which affects the flow of things. It’s up to me to find the best possible solution in each case. For example, the lack of containers available to ship overseas in years past and the fluctuation in pricing more than the previous years motivated us to find new ways to satisfy customer demands.
What are the best strengths that you bring to your job?
I like to think that I’m a positive person and a problem solver, and I can typically find a solution before I bring up a problem. If I am presenting an issue to you, it’s because I have already exhausted every possible solution in all areas.
How has your experience in importing helped your current role on the export side?
Whether it’s importing or exporting, it’s about having a good relationship with the supplier and the customer. It goes both ways and for both parties. You need to have a good understanding – it’s a business relationship, so we need to make it grow and make it profitable. However, I think it’s about all the little things that make the difference for excellent customer service.
How do you incorporate West Pak principles and values into your job?
On a daily basis, I interact with other departments and teams like production, operations, and supply chain, and we get along great—the same with the team in Mexico. Everybody is treated equally and with respect, like West Pak treats us. Also, because we work in export, our customer knows pretty much everyone on the team. Everybody communicates with the customer in their role, which I think is a great experience and demonstrates our commitment to teamwork.
How has West Pak been to work for as a company?
West Pak definitely has a family feeling. I’ve been here for over five years, and I see how the company has grown, and everybody is treated really well. All of the teams are very close, and you get a lot of support from co-workers, which is very nice to see. I have never seen this before in a company. And it’s not just with work; they do take the support outside of work as well.
Tell us one thing about yourself that your co-workers may not know about you.
I did not like avocados until like ten years ago. I remember as a kid not liking the consistency, and now it’s one of my favorite fruits and what I do for a living.
What do you like to do in your off time?
I like to spend time at home with the family, two dogs, and one cat. Although they drive me crazy, not so much the pets, their support has been very important for me in my development at West Pak.
What is your favorite quote?
Al mal tiempo buena cara (you have to look on the bright side).
What is your favorite way to eat/prepare avocados?
Classic Mexican Guacamole, you can never go wrong. You just need a couple of avocados, chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro (super important), lemon juice, salt, pepper, and a little bit of olive oil. Mix it well, and it’s ready to eat with tortillas, chips, pitas, or just as a side.