Alison O’Neill is a Supply Chain Manager, working in one of Woolworths’ busy Distribution Centres – known as the Big Shed. In an industry and role that is highly male-dominated, Alison shares her experiences of 15 years’ employment with the business.
She takes being responsible for a large team of people very seriously and is enormously proud of her contribution: “My role is to create an environment where 500+ team members can be their best every day so that we, as a ‘Big Shed’ community, can service the stores we provide goods to.”
1. Working for a household name
There are probably very few people who haven’t heard of Woolworths and working for such a respected and esteemed business was part of the appeal for Alison. With such a huge reach across a wide range of interconnecting teams, there are impressive opportunities for career growth and development. With presence in almost every town, Woolworths Group has an impact on the local area and the people who live in the community:
“No matter what town or suburb you visited there seems to be a Woolworths or Big W. They’re big and everywhere, I saw this as a business that must have lots of opportunities to serve our communities.”
2. Varied opportunities and career growth
Alison has enjoyed the range of career options available to her. It has allowed her to experience different roles and learn new skills, in order to find the position that suits her best:
“I am grateful for the many and varied career opportunities. I’ve had different projects to work on, leaders to learn from, personal mentoring, development programs and networking. There are so many ways that Woolworths Group has helped me with my development. I am just blessed to work here.”
3. Having a good work/life balance is important
Before joining the team at Woolworths Group, Alison studied communications and majored in psychology, then worked in HR. After several roles in food manufacturing, Alison joined the team at Woolworths Group as part of a greenfield site. While progressing career, Alison has also raised a family.
“I have been blessed to have three children while succeeding in a very challenging role. I’ve continued to grow my career, moving into operational roles and landing in the Supply Chain Manager chair.”
4. Seeing women in leadership roles
Although supply chain is traditionally a male-dominated workforce, times are definitely changing. From the first time Alison met with the team, she was impressed by the women she saw in leadership roles.
“The first time I travelled to the Woolworths Group support office, a female leader of our Supply Chain sat down with me and just talked and listened. She talked about the business with such passion, and she was so genuine in listening to who I was, that I knew I had joined an awesome organization”
That Woolworths has partnered with WORK180, reaffirms what Alison already knew about the company’s forward-thinking attitude and how they are motivated by diversity.
“I am proud and grateful that Woolworths Group is partnering with WORK180. It validates what I know, experience and feel, which is that Woolworths Group is committed to women and their development – both career and life-wise.”
Woolworths Group supports women to succeed in leadership through some amazing leadership development programs.
Learn more about these and other team benefits at Woolworths Group.
5. Making a positive impact on people’s lives
As a leader, Alison knows it’s not just the day-to-day lives of the members of her team who she impacts, but their families too. Creating a happy, safe, and positive work environment means they can also be the best people they can for the important people in their personal lives as well as at work.
“There are so many ways that this role has an impact but as the leader of the Big Shed one of my greatest joys is at our annual service anniversary dinner. We invite the team members and their families along. You can see the family’s pride at hearing what a wonderful person they are to have as part of our team and what they uniquely contribute to our Big Shed community!”
6. Working with diverse, inspiring people
We all know that the team you work with can often make or break your experience of a job. At Woolworths Group, everyone is encouraged to be true to themselves, and differences are celebrated. Alison says:
“I work for a company that allows you to be your authentic self – where you feel like you have found your tribe. If you surround yourself with a diverse bunch of great people, it won’t feel like work either.”
In particular, Alison admires and is inspired by the “courage”, “empathy”, “curiosity”, “willingness to learn” and the “support” her colleagues give each other.
“The team that I work with are all outstanding.”
7. Doing something you love
Above all, Alison encourages everyone to find out what they enjoy doing and work towards a career in that. It may not be what you first thought of – as Alison can attest through having studied psychology at university before different roles in several industries. But each of those steps along the way will help you gain the experience you need to excel in a job that is meant for you.
“Do something you love – it never feels like work then and allows you to be at your best every single day.”
For Alison, it’s not an exaggeration to say that she has found her dream role within Woolworths Group:
“When I was at school there’s no way I’d have believed that someone was going to trust me to successfully run a business with such a massive budget and 500+ team members. Dream on! – But this dream did come true, and I love it.”
If you are considering a role in supply chain, know that at Woolworths you will have found an environment where you can be your true self and work alongside a team that will challenge, respect, and encourage you to be the best version of yourself.
“At the end of each day, it’s great to feel like I have been my authentic self, given my all and that someone else’s day has benefited as a result – almost like paying it forward every day for someone.”