The Trident trio who left Hull to open new offices around the world

By Hull Daily Mail | Posted: 4 Apr 2019

From the sunny beaches of Australia to the subtropical climates of South America, Hull graphics and brand specialist Sonoco Trident has grown far beyond its Hull roots.

With offices in countries including Brazil, the USA, India and Singapore, Trident is now a truly global business.

But behind every international firm is a starting point, and for Trident, that place was Hull.

As Trident has expanded into new countries and continents, the daunting task of setting up offices across the globe has fallen on the shoulders of people from Hull.

Read more: From Sydney to Sao Paulo - Hull's Trident expands into new continents

Today, many remain working in all corners of the world, having settled into life outside of East Yorkshire.

Hull Live asked three of Trident’s team, whose roots all lie in the city, to share their experiences of life working abroad.

Dan Bunting – Sydney

Dan Bunting (Trident)

How did you first get involved with Sonoco Trident?

I was living with my sister after spending a year backpacking in Australia, and she actually applied for the job for me, I think she wanted me out of her house! Turned out to be a good move!

I was successful in the interview and my first role was as an administrator on the P&G account in Colonial House in Beverley. Since then I have done numerous roles, including a year in Nottingham onsite with Boots at its HQ.

I never expected it to develop into the role I am doing 15 years later, but Trident has always encouraged people to work hard and forge their own paths, and they have certainly allowed me to do that.

How did the opportunity to set up the team in Sydney come about? 

Although I am now in Sydney, originally, I moved to Singapore in 2008 to set up our Asia offices. This came about by applying for an internal secondment to fulfil the role for two years.

After my year backpacking, I had always wanted to go back and work overseas, and originally applied for a position in Cincinnati when Trident expanded to the US. That didn’t work out, but the Singapore position did.

I ended up staying in Asia for five years and helped grow the team in Singapore and China from our original three, hull-born staff, to almost 50 by the time I moved to Australia.

Sonoco Trident now has a new office in Sydney, Australia (Getty Images)

The Sydney opportunity came about after working closely with Bob and Sonoco in Australia to research the ANZ market, understand the opportunities in the region and put together a proposal as to why Trident needed to be located there in order to be ‘Truly Global’.

After partnering with a local company for a number of years, we decided to acquire the business, and start growing the Trident brand in Australia.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when setting up the new office?

Part of the reason we decided to set up in Sydney was that the Australian market is incredibly loyal to its partners and suppliers, and in order to become a credible business in the region, we needed a physical and credible presence.

This was a big challenge when comparing to our European clients being willing to work across the entire region with suppliers, rather than demanding local, face to face relationships.

Read more: How Hull business Sonoco Trident has its staff's wellbeing in mind

We decided to tackle this by partnering with a well-respected local business, which eventually led to us acquiring them, and opening Trident Australia. 

How does business in Sydney compare to the business scene in Hull? 

I think the business world in Australia compares closely to Hull, in that it is quite a small market (comparatively) and people appreciate personal relationships, good service and the culture of the business.

What are the things you miss most about Hull? 

It’s easy to say family, which is true, but I’d say the one thing I cannot get here in Sydney, is chip spice and good gravy and chips!

What would you say to someone considering moving to another country to work?

I would suggest that it is always worth considering broadening your horizons. The world is becoming a very small place, and working overseas is a great way to visit new places, test yourself and experience new things.

Dan Buckley - Singapore and China

Dan Buckley (Trident)

How did you first get involved with Sonoco Trident?

I first got involved with Trident when I was studying Graphic Design at Hull College. I was 17 years old at the time and I was introduced to several members of Trident who came in to promote their business and hire apprentices.

I did not join Trident at first, and instead I worked for a competitor in Leeds, however, I returned back to Trident and Hull because I knew the company was at the forefront of its industry and had big plans to expand globally.  

How did the opportunity to set up the team in Singapore come about?

I was working on secondment in Cincinnati, USA, helping support the first few months of our America expansion, when I heard there was an opportunity to head out to Singapore to work with Dan Bunting to expand Trident Asia.

At the time I knew nothing about Singapore and I’d never been to Asia, but I knew I already wanted to be a part of growing Trident in the Asia region. I left the USA, had six interviews for the position, and was finally selected to move to Singapore in 2010.

Read more: From Sydney to Sao Paulo - Hull's Trident expands into new continents

When I arrived in Singapore there were six staff including myself and one client. Now we have expanded the region with offices in Guangzhou China, Chennai India, and Sydney Australia, managing a full portfolio of global clients for the Asia Region.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when setting up the new office?

The biggest challenges I faced was the culture shock. Singapore is Asia’s cultural melting pot. We currently have 10 different nationalities and 12 different languages spoken in our Singapore office alone.

These cultures span from Singaporean, to Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, Indonesian, Korean, English, Myanmar and Filipino, and when I arrived in Singapore, I had never worked with any of these cultures.

Sonoco Trident is based in Kingswood, with offices around the world (Sonoco Trident)

To help tackle my lack of cultural understanding, I set out to learn as much as I can professionally and personally so I could respect and manage a team which is so diverse in religion and culture.

How does business in Singapore compare to the business scene in Hull?

Asia is the growth engine of the world. The economies of countries such Singapore, China and India have exploded since I moved in 2010. This means things move very rapidly compared to the UK and Hull.

What are the things you miss most about Hull?

I miss popping to my Grandma’s on a Sunday morning for breakfast and a cup of Yorkshire Tea. I also miss a good Hull fish and chips (pattie included).

What would you say to someone considering moving to another country to work?

It’s not for everyone. I probably know more people who have moved back to their home country than stayed, however, I don’t know anyone who regrets moving away, even if it’s for a brief period.

For me personally, moving away for almost 10 years so far has been a complete life-changing experience professionally and personally.

I have worked in London, the USA, Singapore, China, and I’ve had the opportunity to travel to many other countries for business. I would not change it for the world and I hope this is just the beginning. 

Alex Bekto-Jones- North America and Latin America

Alex Bekto-Jones (Trident)

How did you first get involved with Sonoco Trident?

I first got involved with Trident back in 2004, May 17 to be precise. I was studying for my BA in Marketing & Advertising at the University of Hull on their four year program that included a “year in industry.”

I spent the third year full-time at a company in a related field while writing a number of reports connecting the business theories we were learning to day-to-day examples I was living at Trident.

Read more: Meet Hull and Humber's brightest stars as top 30 under 30 is announced for 2019

I remember being terrified interviewing with Bob Carroll, in an ill-fitting suit, at Colonial House in Beverley, having never formally interviewed before; however within minutes the conversation became very natural as the tea & a chat mantra even lived back then.

I subsequently started a week after my second year exams were complete, straight in as CSR on the newly-won Unilever business, I remember our sales target for the account was $2k a week.

How did the opportunity to set up the team in your country come about?

It started with Unilever Ice Cream in Rome, establishing a small on-site team inside Unilever’s Ice Cream HQ of the time, after which I moved to the US, focused around our Cincinnati studio to support our expansion with P&G.

The hard-work of setting up had already been completed but after a big-win on Gillette Global prior to Beauty & Grooming with P&G we had to ramp up quickly from seven folks to our current 40+.

Sonoco Trident encourages staff to have a 'cup of tea and a chat' (Sonoco Trident)

2012 saw us expand into our own Mexico City office before we opened up our official regional HQ with full Trident footprint in 2015; driven by both client requirements and a desire to expand our presence into the LATAM market.

Just January this year saw us open up in São Paulo thanks to our existing client relationships and leadership commitment to growing in the region.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when setting up the new office?

I could write an essay on this topic and still omit numerous critical points. Each location has its own challenges as you rapidly learn local cultures, laws, rules, expectations and try to balance them against the timelines and budgets that we’ve set ourselves throughout the process.

Read more: The faces of 24 of Hull's most influential women

That’s before trying to ensure client demands are seamlessly met. In terms of tackling whatever’s thrown at you… leveraging the fantastic people and colleagues around me was key, there’s a degree of learning from your mistakes but tapping into the resources and experiences of colleagues certainly helps to mitigate.

How does business in North/Latin America compare to the business scene in Hull?

Tough question to answer as I’ve been away from Hull for the last 13 years and our current Latin America focus means I have the opportunity to work across numerous cultures at the same time.

What I can say is that our Truly Global Trident mantra, although requiring adjustments in implementation, genuinely reapplies across the regions I’ve been fortunate enough to work in.

Sonoco Trident is based in Kingswood, with offices around the world (Sonoco Trident)

What are the things you miss most about Hull?

I think anything I say for this one is likely well out of date…obviously I still have a lot of friends back at Trident HQ. Is the Gardener’s Arms patio (Cottingham Road) on a sunny Friday afternoon still a thing?

What would you say to someone considering moving to another country to work?

Go for it! No regrets.

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