Women in ACR: Hayley Billson


13 June 2016
Hayley Billson, Dean and Wood Birmingham
This month's interviewee for the Women in ACR series is Hayley Billson.

Hayley, daughter of John Billson, Managing Director of Beijer Ref UK and Ireland, is the sales manager for refrigeration and air conditioning wholesaler, Dean & Wood, a member company of Beijer Ref working, at their Birmingham branch.

​Where did you study and what course/diploma/degree did you gain?

Hayley Billson at the counter

​I studied at Crownship, the training company in Hull. I gained my F-Gas certification, and my NVQ level 1 and 2 in refrigeration and air conditioning.

I also spent two weeks on the road  after my training getting practical experience. I spent this time with service engineer Carley Gorman when she was with WR. Carley was a finalist in the Trainee of the year award and was an ideal choice. I helped her with service and maintenance repairs for supermarket refrigeration customers. 

This time was short in relation to my two year training program, but very valuable.  It taught me a lot about the realities of life as a service engineer. As a result, I can now empathise with customers, knowing what they do day in, day out. I was also keen to get involved with the industry in other ways and joined the committee of the IOR in Newcastle and the IOR London dinner committee. This enabled me to get involved with non wholesaler topics.

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​What attracted you to the industry?

​My Dad! He has been in the industry for 40 years, so I have grown up with refrigeration and air conditioning. When I was two years old, my Dad practised his acetate overhead projector presentations while I sat next to my elder sister Clair who like me ended up in the industry.

What do you specialise in now?

​I started my industry career in marketing and then moved into wholesaler sales. I was sales trainee in Leeds area, followed by a two year stint in Newcastle as Sales Engineer. I then managed the Birmingham branch of Dean & Wood.

It was clear to me that it was the sales part of the job that enthused me the most. I get a real buzz from supporting my customers with pre and after sales and this is what I chose to specialise in.

What do you know now about the industry which you wished you had known before?

Everyday is a school day and there are no limits to the learning. I have also, recently, come to realise that you can continue to have a career in the industry as well as being a new mum. (At the time of writing, Hayley and her partner, Greg, are expecting their second child in July).

What excites or interests you about the industry and your part in it now?

​In my job role, I love nothing more than meeting people. Whether they are customers, suppliers or colleagues, I have met some great characters. And, I have made some true friends along the way. In contrast to the cut and thrust it is a sociable industry, which adds fun to the pressure.

What would you say to other women who are considering coming into the ACR industry?

​Do not be intimidated about the industry being male dominated. Everyone I have met during my seven years in the industry has been kind and welcoming towards me. Not once have I felt that my gender was ever an issue.

​Where do you see your career developing?

​I get inspiration from my Dad and have always chased his footsteps and I am ambitious enough to believe I could part fill them one day. That said he has big boots to fill for such a small guy!

​What are the challenges of this industry?

Hayley Billson in the Dean and Wood warehouse
​Refrigerant legislation. The enormous, continuous change with refrigerant legislation is a challenge for most people in the industry. No sooner do I get used to the most recent refrigerants, the legislations change and with it new products are developed.

And, so, new refrigerants and new equipment to suit them is not only industry challenging it is my most challenging sell at the moment. Well gone are the days when people simply buy a branded product froFar gone are the days when people simply bought a branded product from a wholesaler mate.

​What are the benefits of being in your role?

​I like to think the main benefit is to my customers, the extra value I can give them to take cost out of their supply chain by offering solutions to headaches. For me personally, being a people person I get to meet new people on a daily bases.