#MyRIAStory

Rita Mascia, Global Bid Manager, Altro Limited

Rita Mascia joined RIA just a few years after she started at flooring and wall cladding manufacturers Altro. Since then, the company has continued to  extend its reach across the globe, taking full advantage of the many export events and activities RIA organise.

Rita joined Altro Limited, the Letchworth-based flooring and wall cladding manufacturer, in 2015 with a mission to set up a new global bid management system that would better enable the company to compete for contracts overseas in rail. 

So, they set up a Global Bid Manager role – the position Rita now holds – and radically changed their way of bidding for contracts, with a new focus on looking at overseas opportunities. Rita tells us: “It was about setting up a global client-centred view.” 

If you’re involved in rail business, you can’t afford not to be a RIA Member – for the industry networking and intelligence and for their representation to clients.

Although she had worked as part of a bid team of consultants for a tender to another RIA member for six months prior to Altro, this was her first major role in the rail industry, with Rita being part of some significant changes to the business. “For the first three or four months, I interviewed everyone in the company to see how the various teams did business before. What was clear to me from the beginning was that we didn’t have enough opportunities to engage with all the key players in rail on a global scale”, Rita says.

Here, Rita says, is where RIA could help.

Boosting export opportunities

Joining RIA only a year into the role, in 2016, Rita still remembers doing the application, and very quickly saw the benefits. “My biggest motivation was the opportunity for networking for the global team. RIA does a lot of work, much of which is not just UK based. We had colleagues coming from our subsidiaries abroad and they’d be able to join a RIA event in the UK, or there were RIA events abroad that they could join.”

The focus on the international market quickly bore fruit, with key progress for Altro in Taiwan. Rita tells us: “One of the first events I attended from RIA was a supplier event with key players from Taiwan’s railways. Not only did we have presentations from Taiwan’s agencies, but we had British companies present on how they exported to Taiwan. 

“One company said they had been trying to export to Taiwan for 10 years as they didn’t have a good partner in the country. At some point they found this partner, and they were suddenly very successful in Taiwan. So we thought: we can use this agent too! I got the contact details for the agent in Taiwan and, within a few weeks, they started sending us requests for proposals for rail opportunities in Taiwan.”

What was clear to me from the beginning was that we didn’t have enough opportunities to engage with all the key players in rail on a global scale

Similarly, Altro found a meeting organised by RIA in the Japanese Embassy in London would kick off new opportunities in the country. “We had meetings with five Japanese operators and a train manufacturer. The conversations helped us understand more about their market and, following up from the seminar, we secured a trial for our products on a carriage of JR   West’s trains, for 18 months. And JR West are extremely pleased with Altro’s performance and they love our product! 

“Now we are waiting for a refurbishment or new build project before we potentially get an order. And we were also allowed to use their logo, which is helping promote us to other train operators and manufacturers too. And we now have another promising potential order with another train builder too!”

 

Take advantage of the opportunities
Altro’s strategy has seen the company grow their exports footprint from 44% of total revenue in 2015 to 53% in 2020 – nearly a 10% increase. Rita’s message to others on how to achieve this success is simple: “You get out what you put in”. 

“If you’re involved in rail business, you can’t afford not to be a RIA Member – for the industry networking and intelligence and for their representation to clients.” She tells us.

RIA does a lot of work, much of which is not just UK based. We had colleagues coming from our subsidiaries abroad and they’d be able to join a RIA event in the UK, or there were RIA events abroad that they could join.

“If I was a new member, I’d get to know the team at RIA and understand what each member of the team does. The team are always very friendly - if you need help on a particular issue, ask them. If you need an introduction, or assistance with a contact in the industry, ask them.” 

Rita’s also clear on how to make the most of RIA membership: “Take advantage of the opportunity that more than one person can attend any RIA event – which is different from a lot of other organisations.” And “sign up to the emails - they’ll keep you up to date with everything.”

She concludes with a reflection on the importance of creating new relationships. “The key is networking. Not to build business, but to build relationships. These relationships may lead to new business in the future, but you need to build the relationships first.”

We couldn’t say it better ourselves!

Interested in becoming a RIA Member?

Click here to see how RIA can support you , or contact RIA's Membership Engagement Manager Rose Garber:

Email: rose.garber@riagb.org.uk
Phone: +44 (0)7824 665 007

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