Pickup Coffee’s Managing Director Rami Chahwan On His Career Journey And The Philippine F&B Industry

Filipinos love to eat, ask anyone and they will tell you that. For that reason, the F&B industry in the country is a developing market. It is an evolving sector that contributes remarkably to the economy. 

We’ve seen trends emerge because of the pandemic and technology over the past few years. It has changed the way we purchase our needs and wants as technology allowed us to shop from the comforts of our homes. We can now conveniently choose and pay online and receive items right at our doorstep. Consumers would take advantage of retailers’ and e-commerce online shopping platforms which provide the same quality products without dealing with the hassle of going to a mall and spending hours of shopping. Convenience has become the way to consumers’ hearts, especially having the Millennials and Generation Z become the majority of them. These tech-savvy generations prefer ways that could save them time hence favouring options that use applications such as food deliveries, online grocery shopping and other retail shopping. 

Rami Chahwan, Managing Director of Pickup Coffee, shared the trends he foresees in the next few years and how he would present them to the Filipino market. Let’s take a glimpse at Rami Chahwan’s career journey, achievements, and his notable insights regarding the retail scene in the Philippines.  

Rami has always been passionate about the F&B industry since he was young. Being hired as a manager of Tim Hortons in Canada way back is what ignited his love for restaurants and he wouldn’t have it any other way. He would have still evolved in the F&B industry even if he was given a chance to change his field of career, believing he would have remained in a high-paced field where every day is somewhat different and not routine. Sitting behind an office desk is the last thing on his mind. Rami would rather serve and connect with different kinds of people everyday.  

“It’s not the type of work that I would have enjoyed. So I think this is what also made me succeed because everyday, I am actually excited to go to work. I wake up in the morning ready to go and ready to face a new challenge. And it’s been almost two and a half decades that I’ve been doing this, and the same passion is still within me today. The reason I’m still working in the same industry must be because I love it deeply, and it’s kind of ingrained in me.”  

For certain, Rami’s passion and dedication in his career truly paid off when he got recognised as one of the Top 50 Rising Tigers Nation Builders in the Asia Pacific in 2022. Mitigated feelings overcame him during that. Also, humility from the fact that Rami came from a place where individual awards are not necessarily a big reward. For him, it is all about the team and he wished that they were able to receive that award with him because it’s a testament to all their efforts.  

“I’m privileged to lead them, but once you reach a certain level in the business world, you cannot do it alone. Without a strong team, you can’t get such accomplishments done.” 

For Rami, the pandemic is the epitome of the major transition globally. It has altered a lot of behaviours and made things more accessible.  

“Simply using an app today, you have access to an unlimited amount of restaurants that you could order from. And that kind of changed the game because what used to be a very prime location in the past that would drive most of your traffic is no longer the same today.”  

Rami believes that it brought back and elevated the strength of the retail industry by also presenting digital marketing. It requires skill, it’s a new art every leader must learn and develop.  

For a time when people were working from home, big F&B companies began to redefine themselves and refocus their efforts because for Rami, at the end of the day, having great food is what matters for the consumers to repurchase. People are not worried about spending but they want to make sure they’re spending for the right quality as they want to see the value in whatever they’re spending on. 

Almost every industry is in the momentum to fight for technology. Big brands are considering accelerating their digital growth. Based on Rami’s observation, that’s what changed – most people are now relying on their smartphones for their transactions. His advice to retail leaders is to constantly reimagine and make sure that stimuli are reaching their desired target market. Though Rami is not extremely familiar with the digital space so he tries to surround himself with champions in that field and he has learned so much working with them – like in advertisements, it’s not as predictable as just a typical OOH marketing in the past where its visibility is everywhere outside and they’re just enough to persuade the customer to purchase. Today, even though there are so many motives thrown at customers digitally, retail pioneers must still find a way of coming out of that lot and making their presence felt. Rami stated that going digital is a good thing because it’s unlocking new channels though despite the pros and cons, leaders need to be able to navigate it.

“Those that are more nimble and agile in doing it will eventually gain more traction.”  

Closing the conversation, Rami has advice for aspiring marketers which he has used for the last 10 years.  

“I think if they can have the self-awareness and modesty to see that there’s always room for improvement and keep working on themselves would be a key takeaway I would give them. I mean, ultimately, at the end of the day, this is what an MBA prepares you for. When people go to do higher studies, they’re being trained on how to continuously improve and how to continuously train themselves and work on themselves. So if there is one message I could give an up-and-coming marketer is don’t settle and be self-aware. Not everybody is good at everything, but not everybody is also ready to improve themselves. So if they are ready to do that, they’re going to have an edge over the rest of the marketers that are out there.” 

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This spotlight article was originally produced by Rockbird Media and edited by Payments Consulting Network. 

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Payments Consulting Network is a media partner of Retail & E-commerce Summit Asia– Retail Revolution: Setting the Landscape Ablaze happening on July 17-18, 2024 at Shangri-La, The Fort BGC. Rami Chahwan will be the moderator for “The Supremacy of Implementing a Customer Centric Mindset” Fireside Chat. Hear more about his remarkable perception together with the other industry leaders in this event. Register now!