With her strong work ethic & passion for her team, Natalie helps us do MORE

As one of the biggest food service companies in Africa, Food Partners-RCL FOODS’ out of home division-serves a multitude of different businesses in different channels from Quick Service restaurants, contract caterers, hotels, retail delis to forecourts and bakeries. As the name suggests, the 130-strong Food Partners team are passionate about food and working with its customers to help them succeed. Proud to be part of this team is Natalie O’Connell, our National Outlet Executive, whose strong work ethic and love for her team helps us do MORE.

We interviewed Natalie to learn more about her and her journey so far…

  1. Tell us more about yourself and what you are passionate about

I’ve been married for 17 years and have a 14 year old son who makes my heart very happy. I come from a very close-knit family and am blessed to still have my parents in my life, who are happy and healthy. When I’m not cooking up a storm, I love to create things and do art, design and décor in my spare time.

  • What are you enjoying most about your current role?

I love that I am part of a large team, working with great people who make my day. We are a close and happy bunch of people who would go to war for each other.

  • Tell us about your career journey so far

After leaving school, I wasn’t able to go to university due to my parents not having the financial means. I believe that this has taught me to work hard and fight for what I want in life. This attitude has lead me down an incredible career path. After starting my career as a car salesperson, I got the opportunity to move into the FMCG industry with CG Smith Sugar (before Tongaat split with Illovo) as a sales rep on the road. I then moved to Pillsbury as a rep and was promoted to Regional Sales & Key Accounts Manager for Pick ‘n Pay. I was then head hunted by Smollans to manage the Foodservice synergized division as the National Sales Manager. A few years later, I moved to Ceres Fruit Juice where I held the position as National Key Accounts Manager for the Foodservice division. After spending three years in the Middle East due to my husband getting a job offer there, I returned to Foodcorp as the National Foodservice Manager which then became Rainbow Chicken and now RCL FOODS.

  • What has been your proudest/most fulfilling moment at RCL FOODS?

There have been a number of moments that I have been very proud of during my career, including landing a new merged team and being able to lead through change. What I find truly fulfilling is when I receive feedback on the wonderful work that my field team and trainers and technical teams are doing out there and watching them flourish and move onto higher roles in the business.

  • What is the best piece of career advice you have received?

Throughout my journey, I have received incredible advice from a number of people at different stages of my career. They include:

  • Don’t let anyone dampen your sparkle
  • Keep it real – be your authentic self
  • Don’t ever give up on yourself and your dreams
  • Hard work always pays off
  • What do you love most about being part of the Food Partners team?

I love that I feel part of a beautiful family that really cares about me and my wellbeing. It’s having passionate people like Natalie on our team that enables us to deliver innovative and consistent quality meal solutions to the Food Service industry.

To find out more about Food Partners, click here: