Born into an army officer’s home, Sheena Saigal learned from a young age that the only constant in life is change.
“I’ve had a bit of an unconventional life and career journey,” said Sheena. “After growing up and completing my schooling in India, I continued to further my studies, achieving a diploma in hotel management, MBA in Marketing, Masters’s in Accounting, CPA qualification, and program management certification.
“All this between starting a family and moving halfway around the world to Australia! Here I am, two decades later in my adopted home, grateful for the opportunities this land has to offer.”
Sheena shares how her numerous life and career changes have helped her grow into her current role as Delivery Manager – eCommerce at Coles. She’s used change to pivot, invigorate her career, shape her values, and develop her unique leadership style.
Here’s how you can use change to your best advantage in the same way.
First, don’t be afraid to take on new challenges
Sometimes, change gets thrown your way. Other times, you have to spark it yourself!
After working as a finance manager for more than ten years, managing a large ledger and influencing critical financial decisions in various companies, Sheena decided to seek a new challenge.
She pursued studies in program management, cementing her delivery expertise and gaining exposure to different business initiatives.
“That’s when I started my retail journey as a Program Manager at Coles. I led programs that delivered improvements to our customers, while also generating revenue for Coles. From one change to the next, I then moved into the eCommerce team as a Delivery Manager.”
In this role, Sheena delivers strategic and commercial initiatives and leads the eCommerce team. Together, they create positive experiences for Coles’ online customers, while unlocking sustainable online growth for the business.
Use each career experience as a slingshot
There are many ways career experiences can slingshot you in new, interesting directions. (Did we mention Sheena also used to run a café with her husband?)
“At our café, I’d look after customer retention and relationships. This gave me a greater desire to understand and improve the customer experience. This lent itself to my current role as we undergo our customer-obsessed transformation at Coles – this was the biggest attraction for me! Everything we do is customer-centric with immense growth opportunities.”
For Sheena, eCommerce is a fast-paced, extremely exciting space to be a part of.
“We have a deep appreciation of the value of brand and the experience for our customers. We’re becoming more agile. This empowers our team to try new things and come up with innovative, creative ideas.”
Be inclusive and open to new ideas
Company culture is something that’s always evolving. And Sheena sees this as a good thing. She loves that Coles has adopted new agile ways of working.
“Previously, we had to be one hundred percent confident in a product before testing it. Now, it’s about progression. It’s about having a growth mindset and being able to shift gears quickly. It’s completely changed the way we take things to market.”
This change has meant Sheena and her team can grow, learn, and continuously improve.
“The best part is that it empowers us to take calculated risks and come up with new ideas. Giving my team more autonomy has also enhanced my leadership skills.”
Agility can be a wonderful thing. But Coles’ inclusive culture has been the linchpin that’s made these changes a success.
“By promoting a psychologically safe environment, our team members feel free to speak up, share ideas, grow, test, and adapt. Inclusivity matters to me. It means everyone, including myself, can express themselves and be heard without fear.”
What does this look like, day-to-day?
“As an example, I love the tools we are developing in eCommerce for collaboration. They allow us to provide basic, intermediate, and advanced training, depending on the needs of each individual.”
Want more insights into what it’s like working day to day at Coles?
Check out their WORK180 Endorsed Employer pages.
Use change to develop your sense of purpose and vision
Over time, Sheena has used career and life changes to shape her personal purpose and vision.
“There are two things that have become really important to me when looking for a role. First, does the company give back to the community? Second, can we leave a positive footprint on the ecosystem? Coles offers me both.”
One standout moment for Sheena at Coles was during the pandemic. They delivered pallets of goods to food banks in NSW to support people who were struggling. In her delivery team too, they’re creating sustainable initiatives to make deliveries more eco-friendly.
“I don’t want to leave a footprint that my children, their children, and future generations would suffer from. I’m proud to be part of a company thinking differently about what we can do in the sustainability space. Being part of an organization that gives back to the community, and isn’t just focused on profits, gives you a sense of purpose.”
Sheena lives these values every day in both her work and personal life. Outside of work, she’s a board member of a social enterprise, designing pathways for girls from underprivileged communities to achieve their goals. She also assists NFPs develop strategies and is an ardent advocate of diversity, equity, and inclusion by promoting and participating in community events.
All these experiences have reshaped Sheena’s perspective since she first joined Coles. Little did she know then, the full scale and impact her role could have.
“I didn’t know I’d be working with so many Australian communities and partnering with organizations making positive changes too. The opportunities for growth are innumerable.
“When our chief shared our strategy – providing seamless customer experiences, delivering faster than the market standard, and creating differentiated options – to achieve our vision, I knew I was in the right place. I needed to be part of this customer-obsessed journey!”
As she reflects on her journey; her move from India to Australia, changing from finance to program management, to eCommerce and technology, Sheena recognizes how far she’s come.
“I’m proud of the diversity of my experience. I feel lucky to have received support from my employers to achieve my goals through the 3E’s: experience, exposure, and education.”
If there’s one thing she can pass on to others, it’s encouraging people to develop the confidence to take the next step, whatever that change might be.
“The greatest rewards come from stepping outside your comfort zone. Success is awarded to those who are willing to endure discomfort. So, get comfortable being uncomfortable! You never know what you’re capable of until you try. You’ll probably surprise yourself.”
Take it from Sheena. To make the most of life and career changes: be like a duck!
“Stay calm above water, but paddle like hell beneath the surface.”