Day in the Life of an Agent: Justine Fantillo

By: Jacquie Maynard

BC Trade Development Manager for PMA Canada

As BC Trade Development Manager for PMA Canada, Justine Fantillo is the touchpoint for the BC wine and spirits market—everything that happens in the region flows through her. Whether it’s liaising with PMA brand managers, guiding promotions, or digging into some juicy marketing data, Fantillo makes it happen for the 80-plus brands and approximately 35 suppliers that PMA Canada represents.

“I like to say I’m the liaison between dreams and what can actually be done,” she laughs.

Follow Your Passion

Fantillo has always loved hospitality and marketing, but it wasn’t until after taking a break from her career and travelling in Thailand that she ended up in the beverage industry. “It wasn’t my original vision, but when I thought about it, all the pieces fell into place,” she says. Now, she has eight years in the beverage industry under her belt.

Her previous role at PMA was as a key account manager, but after a few years, it didn’t feel quite right.

“Sometimes it takes the right conversation with the right people to make your dreams a reality.”

“I’ve always been a behind-the-scenes type of person. I love building things for people—building that killer presentation, finding the data and similarities for what I needed to make the pitch. I always had in the back of my mind that I’m passionate about this, and it came down to being upfront with my managers. I told them ‘This is my passion, this is what I enjoy doing, what position exists that can make that happen?’ Six months later, the perfect position came up.”

Sometimes it takes the right conversation with the right people to make your dreams a reality. “I wasn’t unhappy in my previous role, but I saw my little sparks of passion and followed them.”

Lots of Meetings

Just because it’s her dream role doesn’t mean there wasn’t an adjustment. “Coming from sales, where you’re always up and moving around and meeting with people in person, and then going to a desk job was quite a shock,” she laughs.

She came into her new role about six months ago, so the pandemic was already underway, but even before that her role required many Zoom meetings liaising with brand managers across the country. For her, the biggest change was managing the region as a whole.

“I’ve always had to deal with suppliers, but before it was in a more sales-oriented way,” she explains. “This role is more transitional, instead of focusing on my accounts. Now I worry about the entire sales team’s capacities and help the brand managers succeed across all channels. It’s a juggling act.”

Along with her sales coordinator, Fantillo’s main goal is to make plans that are executable and compliant.

“We help brand managers from different provinces understand the landscape of BC.”

“It’s part managing expectations with the brand team—helping guide their fiscal plan, pricing, even POS—but we’re also the regional experts when it comes to what you can and can’t do in a regulatory sense. We help brand managers from different provinces understand the landscape of BC.”

Growing into this leadership role has also inspired Fantillo to help other women go after their passions and reach their goals. “Beyond my career, I feel a heightened responsibility to use my position to encourage and support other women to apply for leadership positions, and further my abilities to be a good mentor,” she says.

Now that she’s settled into her role, Fantillo is excited for the upcoming year. “Heading into 2022, I can start affecting the changes that, I think, got me the job in the first place. It’s an ever-growing and adapting company, and there’s always something that can be improved and so much to learn,” she notes. “That’s what excites me.”