Cambrian College was a very positive experience – getting to meet people from all over, the teamwork, learning how to manage time. A lot of the things I learned provided good fundamentals and foundational knowledge for the future.
Craig Vendramin can safely claim legions of fans amongst postsecondary students. The Customer VP with Kraft Canada, Vendramin “gets product in front of consumers.” And for millions of college students across the country, that product includes Kraft Dinner, the ageless staple of late-night study sessions.
Vendramin, 46, joined the company “right out of college,” when he started as a sales representative, promoting Kraft products to new and established markets. In 2014, he celebrated 24 years with the company and says sales “is in the blood.” His grandfather and father were salesmen, and his brother, Brian, is a business professor at Cambrian College who advises students on the finer points of selling.
Vendramin graduated in 1990 with a three-year business diploma that included a year of marketing. He remembers fondly the time he participated in the provincial marketing competition – Cambrian won that year – which he describes as “the Olympics of marketing.”
That, and other hands-on opportunities, enriched Vendramin’s education and provided him with real-life field experience – an essential part of his postsecondary education.
“We always worked in teams, and you have to learn how to maximize that – sometimes you have to lead and sometimes you have to follow within the team,” he says. “You have to learn how to capitalize on each member’s personality.”
While in school, Vendramin worked at a local grocery store, which he attributes to sparking his interest in the food industry. Juggling college and a part-time job was tough, but it taught him to balance priorities and exposed him to the inner workings of a business in action.
“Cambrian College was a very positive experience – getting to meet people from all over, the team work, learning how to manage time,” he says. “A lot of the things I learned provided good fundamentals and foundational knowledge for the future.”
Twenty years later, Vendramin still draws on his college experiences – especially when working with individuals from diverse backgrounds.
“I still use that knowledge today, because my role is very focused on teamwork,” he explains. “That spectrum allows us to brainstorm and develop innovative solutions to challenges.”
Vendramin is also motivated by the unpredictability of sales.
“It’s an exciting field in which to work, there’s always something new,” he says. “There’s healthy, but stiff competition. I really enjoy the food industry. There are always all kinds of novel campaigns underway, so I don’t really ever get bored.”
Vendramin has sage advice for students considering a postsecondary education.
“No matter the field you choose – whether you’re an artist or a tradesperson – a business education will be of benefit to you,” he muses. “At some point profit matters, and you’ll likely work with business professionals; your job will involve some element of business. I’ve had this discussion with my kids. I believe a business education is a critical component of any career.”
Three teenagers keep him and his wife, Amy, busy, and food always seems to be at the centre of family activities.
“Not to worry,” Vendramin says with a laugh. “The house is always well-stocked with the whole Kraft line-up.”