Building a career in stone: our interview with Angie Squires

From being served goose tongue in frog’s blood in Xiamen, China to being driven between quarries in Turkey at terrifying speeds on black ice, Angie Squires has a very interesting job.

As the Chief Stone Sales and Product Manager responsible for sourcing and importing Beaumont Tiles’s natural stone range, Angie knows a thing or two about working in a male-dominated industry. In fact, she is one of the first women many stone quarries in far flung countries have ever done business with.

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I am often the first woman the quarries have done business with. I am a confident and friendly person and although there is often an initial reluctance it is soon overcome. Being a women often becomes an advantage as I am memorable being a blonde woman and knowledgeable.

We chatted with Angie to find out more about her diverse career, how she found herself in the stone industry and her tips for managing a busy schedule.

Angie, your job sounds fascinating! Can you tell us a bit more about your career? What was your first job?

My first full-time job after University (MSc) was as a Clinical Research Associate for a large Pharmaceutical company. I ran clinical trials around Australia for new drugs; assisted in submissions to the Health Department for registration of new drugs; trained the Sales force on the products.
After the Pharmaceutical industry I moved into Computing for fifteen years selling large mainframe devices to large corporations and then into personal computing where I managed the sales channels.

What attracted you to the stone industry? Tell us about your journey to your current role.

I had taken maternity leave from the computer industry and was approached by a colleague who had started up a stone importing business and wanted my help to establish a channel for the stone. I had done some geology units at University during my Master’s Degree in Science and had always been interested in geology so thought the opportunity could be a fun re-entry into the workforce. I have now worked in a number of stone roles and thoroughly enjoyed it. I love learning about the stones and how they are formed AND of course the countries where I source the stone.

Today I am the Chief Stone Sales and Product Manager responsible for sourcing, importing and ensuring a successful natural stone product range for Beaumont Tiles is available in their 100 plus stores nation-wide. Joining Beaumont Tiles in 2014, I travel overseas three or four times a year committed to bringing the world’s best and latest stone tiles to Beaumont Tile’s customers, builders and renovators.

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I adore travel so this has been a great role for me and it is a very exciting time working for Beaumont Tiles, particularly in Stone. There is a real excitement and interest to renovate your home with beautiful Stone. Our new Stone range contains only first quality, premium grade stones from around the world in some exciting new formats such as our planks which can be laid in herringbone, as floorboards or mixed with other sizes.

What challenges and opportunities have you faced being in such a heavily male dominated industry?

Many suppliers have not dealt with women in this role before so it can be initially an issue. I found that if I had done my research on their country, customs and business then I was ahead of many of my male counterparts. You’d be surprised how many people never bother to even learn the basic words such as “please”, “thank you” and “hello” in that country’s language.

As soon as the suppliers realise you are competent and respectful they are more than happy to work with you. In fact it often works in your favour as being a female is memorable.
I have been taken into people’s homes and dined with their family which is just lovely and certainly helps cement a great working relationship.

We know that you travel extensively to source stone for tiles. What is your most memorable trip?

Hard to choose but will go with my trip to India the year before the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. It seemed that every single road had been dug up to make way for new train lines, freeways or widening. The end result was unadulterated chaos – far worse than the usual traffic chaos.

My kind supplier decided I needed to see the Taj Mahal and offered to drive me there on the weekend with his wife. What should have been a four hour journey turned into 16 hours – elephants and camels were able to pass us. However I would never swap that excursion as the Taj Mahal is the most breathtaking vision. It is a must see. I also made very firm friends with that couple and we are still friends today.
Stone tiles I have sourced in my exotic travels includes:

  • Carrara marble from Italy
  • Porto Santo limestone from Portugal
  • Linnato limestone from China
  • Almond Milk, Almond Blend, Warm Ash and Vanilla Travertines from Turkey
  • Papyrus and Sandy Bay sandstones from India
  • Ebony and Grey Mist granites and Blue Moon basalt from China.

What have you learned working in remote locations?

Always check the local customs before you travel and respect them.

For instance in many parts of India it is impolite to show your legs so best to wear pants. Low cut tops in the countryside of Turkey aren’t advisable. It is very important for a woman to respect these customs to be taken seriously. And it is also important to keep a sense of humour for the inevitable gaff from either side.Being a female can really work in your favour as you are memorable.

With a busy schedule and global travel, how do you make time for yourself and your wellbeing?

VERY good question. I find work/home life balance a challenge. Having a large dog helps as she needs a good walk every day and I do ensure I take her. I also try never to work on a Sunday. I get up early and make the most of the day. I like to get outdoors for a long walk or a game of golf. Last resort is the gym.

I have a great group of friends who I see regularly and find a good laugh dissolves stress!

Where do you see yourself in twenty years?

RETIRED!!! I would like to spend three months of the year travelling and the other nine months playing golf, keeping fit outdoors, enjoying my wine collection and hopefully spending time with my children and grandchildren (fingers crossed).

Finally, what advice would you give to women starting their career in your industry or a male dominated industry?

Always strive to be competent, confident and stay away from the gossipers. If a new opportunity arises, go for it. Don’t hold back because you don’t have all the qualifications or you will never progress. You can learn as you go.