Opening doors for women to work within Viva Energy’s Supply Chain

Alison_McGregor

 

Supply chains are how organisations – including Viva Energy – deliver products and services to customers. Supply chain organisations and departments have traditionally been over-represented by males but statistics show that more diverse workforces create a more dynamic and successful business. At Viva Energy, we are committed to attracting and retaining more women to work across the broad scope of roles in the company, including within our supply chain teams.

As Viva Energy’s Operations Manager for Victoria and Tasmania, Alison McGregor knows all about the complex nature of the supply chain. She’s responsible for Viva Energy’s supply chain assets, infrastructure and operational capability in Victoria and Tasmania, and it’s a complex operation.

Until now, attracting talented women to supply chain roles has been difficult for a variety of reasons. One of these reasons relates to a lack of awareness of roles that are out there.

“There is certainly a lack of visibility among younger people, particularly when it comes to the breadth of roles that the supply chain and logistics industry offers,” she says. “Most people think of truck drivers, forklift operators and warehouse managers, and those sorts of roles don’t appeal to everyone. Supply chains are so complex that the full suite of roles is not always obvious.”

These roles are far-reaching, and can include everything from planning and scheduling to procurement and purchasing, transport (by land, air or sea), warehousing, distribution, manufacturing and engineering. Essentially, all the tasks associated with the logistics and practical application of moving goods from one place to another.

The changing landscape

Viva Energy – and supply chain as an industry – is actively pursuing a more diversified workforce. “For various reasons, supply chain has traditionally been very male-oriented,” explains Alison. “Young women haven’t had many female role models to follow into supply chain careers. Simple logistic issues, such as having female amenities on some sites, might have also created barriers. But mainly women have never been specifically considered for these roles before. As an industry we recognise these challenges and we’re working to address them.”

Viva Energy strongly supports female representation in the workforce, and there’s a push to encourage women into supply chain roles. “We’re giving women the opportunity to develop their careers at a management level, but we’re also attracting and actively recruiting women into frontline operational roles in our supply chain.”

There’s a number of women now working in operational areas of Viva Energy, including in the operations team at Newport Terminal and the refuelling team at Melbourne Airport, which involves quite a bit of manual handling. “Part of our push is making sure that the tasks we expect any of our people to undertake can be done by anyone, regardless of age, gender or background.”

One very encouraging outcome is the response from experienced male employees, who are eager to see women succeed. “It’s been great to see the support shown by the incumbent workforce to new recruits, through active mentoring and coaching.”

Creating a new pathway

Wayfinder: Supply Chain Careers for Women, is a national industry initiative run by the Centre for Supply Chain and Logistics at Deakin University. Established in 2018, it is designed to create a new talent pipeline for Australia’s supply chain and logistics sector, ensuring a diverse workforce with globally competitive skills.

“The Wayfinder approach is centred around two key objectives,” explains Alison. “The first is about increasing the visibility of the industry, particularly among young people, and making them aware of the breadth of exciting opportunities that exist within it.”

“The second is about rethinking talent acquisition, retention and promotion: finding good, capable people, ensuring that the roles and opportunities are exciting and that they’re encouraged to get involved, and making sure, once people are in, that they continue to enjoy the roles and the industry.”

Until now there has been no obvious university pathway into supply chain as an industry, but that is changing. Part of the Wayfinder program is focused on establishing a national educational framework to bring together tertiary education providers, both at TAFE and university level, that offer courses relevant to supply chain and logistics, and improve visibility across the spectrum.

Rewarding careers

Wayfinder has created a supply chain career map that gives interested candidates an idea of the different sectors of supply chain activities and the specific roles and pathways within it.

The career map also provides an indication of the salaries people can expect by following those pathways. Unsurprisingly, given the skills shortage and the laws of supply and demand, remuneration can be particularly attractive.

With the progression of technology and digital transformation, it’s an exciting time to be involved in supply chain. The opportunity to make a difference and drive better outcomes, efficiency, productivity, customer service and support has never been so great – and will only increase as technology develops.

Getting involved

As a progressive business that is heavily reliant on its Supply Chain and Logistics functions, the Wayfinder program was a natural fit for Viva Energy.

In fact, Viva Energy has taken it one step further being a program sponsor, along with a diverse range of other like-minded organisations. It’s an opportunity for the industry as a whole to share learnings and establish effective talent pipelines for the future.

It also offers current employees opportunities to get involved by becoming Wayfinder Ambassadors, serving as role models and promoting the supply chain career opportunities within Viva Energy in various forums.

In the future there may also be the opportunity to undertake training programs to help Viva Energy employees transition into supply chain roles.

Ultimately, being part of an inter-industry network of supply chain professionals is a huge benefit for both Viva Energy and its people.

Valuable advice

Alison has a great deal of useful advice for anyone interested in the career opportunities that exist within supply chain. “A T-shaped perspective is really useful. By that I mean you have breadth of understanding, how all the elements of the supply chain and the broader organisation fit together, but also depth in an area, so that you can speak with authority and expertise on a particular subject. That makes you valuable to an organisation and able to contribute effectively.”

“Working in the supply chain you see every element of the value chain, not only from an operational, safety and quality perspective, but also from a cost and margin perspective. You’re in the middle of the organisation, seeing end-to-end value creation. It’s a fabulous way to get an overview of how companies transform their raw materials or expertise into a product or service that fulfils the needs of a customer and creates value in their eyes.”

With market-leading flexible working programs, an innovative superannuation policy, and fantastic opportunities for career development, it’s the perfect time to find out more about a career within Viva Energy’s supply chain.

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