David Wheeler is national account manager at Gallaher

What was your first ever job?
At the age of 14 I worked on a greengrocer stall. I got £16 for a nine-hour shift.

Give us a quick rundown on your career to date.
I worked at Nestlé for a year as part of my university course. After that I joined Gallaher and have been there just under seven years. I started on a graduate programme and moved on to roles such as area sales manager, business development manager for P&H, regional sales manager and now national account manager for Tesco.

How did you get where you are today?
Dedication and commitment to the roles I have had. I’ve also had fantastic support from all my bosses at Gallaher, the teams I have managed and 100% support from my wife.

What part has luck played in your career?
My university tutor showed me the Gallaher Graduate Programme, which impressed me, and then the 4pm deadline (it was 2pm) which didn’t. An hour and 59 frantic minutes later, my application was in!

What is the best decision you’ve made in your career?
Joining Gallaher, where ‘work hard play hard’ is encouraged and where my aspirations have been fulfilled – so far. And the worst? Not standing up for myself in my earlier career in certain situations. Who do you most admire in the grocery industry? The founders of Burts or Tyrrells. They have excellent products that are presented and communicated in an attractive and intelligent way... I also love their crisps.

Do you have a career mentor?
Yes. Mark Rock, my manager for three and a half years, helped develop me in many ways and encouraged me to do my MBA.

What is the most important tip you’ve ever been given?
Whatever you do, be consistent.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I’ve just moved from a people-based role, so I’d say it has to be seeing someone you have helped develop gain a promotion or a new role.

If you could start again, what would you change?
I wouldn’t go to university. I’d take a train up to the City and go from there.

What do you like doing when you are not working?
Training for triathlons, spending time with my wife and eight-month-old daughter and trying to keep the garden under control.

How many hours do you work per week?
Around 50.

Where do you hope to be in five years?
Vice president of sales for Gallaher UK or managing director of one of its overseas divisions.