Áine Corbett has two careers which she is equally passionate about. One as the Regional Property Manager for Woolworths and the other as a qualified dog trainer and competitor. Joining our call with her were also her two adorable dogs. Aine says working with animals has taught her a lot of empathy and patience which she carries into her role at Woolworths Group. She is the sort of person who doesn’t sweat the small stuff and is such a joy to chat with.
“Like watching a baby grow”
Áine has worked at Woolworths Group for two years and specifically looks for new sites to build stores. She finds being involved with the whole process from conception to store opening very rewarding.
“I’m responsible for finding new sites for our Woolworths supermarket as well as managing the relationship with the landlords of our current sites. When looking for new sites, you get to deal with entrepreneurial people like property developers. Finding a new site and kicking it off is like watching a baby grow. You’re involved with the design — how it would look and feel. You look into how customers will navigate the store, down to the smallest detail around the opening of the store.”
After having several careers, Áine says working in property is her calling. She shares a valuable lesson to us all that it is never too late to explore your passions and dream job. We asked how she fell into it and the career path that led her into her current role.
A varied career
“I’m 50 now, so I have had a varied and interesting career. I spent my 20’s travelling and working in various sales roles in different countries including being the Assistant Manager of one of the largest Indian restaurants in Europe. I’ve sold stretch wrap for wrapping pallets, sanitary units to commercial offices, and security for major events. I have also worked in India for 3 years, recruiting expats for the largest optical roll out in the world at the time.
Áine reflects on what it was like to work in India as an expat female and navigating the cultural nuances. “I really enjoyed my time in India and the opportunity to work with some varied and interesting people. Perhaps the most exciting thing that happened was what she found in the middle of the street – “but the highlight of my time here was adopting a stray puppy I found on the street”
“Only when I came back from India at 38 did I get into Property and then I found my calling. At any stage you can change the course of your life. It all comes down to your choice.”
When Áine returned to Australia, so did her pup.
A paw-some place
Áine enjoys her role very much and we asked what made it so special. She says, it’s the people and the endless support. When one of her dogs got injured last year, Áine took time off to care for him and also worked from home. There were no questions — only support and care from her colleagues.
“I think the biggest part is the support of the people around me and their belief in both the company and their team. I’m the eldest in the team, older than a lot of the bosses, but that has never even come into the equation. They respect my experience but are also happy to invest in my development. I don’t have kids, I have dogs. But any personal challenge I have gone through with my dogs, they have shown me the same courtesy and latitude as if I had 10 kids. And that understanding has built loyalty to my team and company enormously.”
Áine is also a qualified dog trainer. We asked how she got involved with this.
“When my dog arrived in Australia from India, he needed to be comfortable in his new environment. I signed up with a dog trainer which helped so much. I enjoyed the experience, so I started to volunteer with the dog trainer. And then 14 years later, I have a Certificate IV in the Companion Animal Services, am an Accredited Karen Pryor Dog Trainer and an Associated Certified Nosework Instructor .”
Working flexibility at Woolworths allows Áine to be very involved in dog training and compete in dog sports. Specifically, agility and nosework (nosework is an activity that allows your dog to use their natural desire to hunt. In training, dogs learn to find one of three scents just about anywhere you can hide it). Áine competes during winter and trains 4 nights a week and on weekends.
A place that walks the talk
Áine is proud to work at Woolworths Group. She says,
“It’s a fantastic culture. The Group is very inclusive and extremely supportive. The people here are interested in how they can assist in your professional career but also interested in you as a human and what you do outside of work.”
The Group is a place that cares for its people – they don’t just pay lip service.
“The business definitely walks its talk which is inspiring. What you hear Brad Banducci, our CEO say, is absolutely consistent with internal communication.. He cares about his people, our customers, our partners and the environment. We literally do everything around our purpose which is ‘creating better experiences together, for a better tomorrow’. Not many people can say that they “feel” the purpose in their day to day activities, so it’s not just a strapline.”
Áine is full of gratitude because she battled cancer last year and won! Woolworths supported her throughout the journey from diagnosis all the way to the last treatment. Growing up on a farm she learned about resilience when faced with adversity, that really helped her through her battle with cancer.
“I was raised on a farm. My parents always made sure we were accountable for ourselves and our actions. They always taught us to look for solutions – not problems. When faced with challenges, my parents would also say ‘you just have to buck up and get on with it’. We saw life and we saw death [of animals] on the farm. I’m thankful that we did not live a sheltered life. This only made us more resilient.”
We ended the conversation with Áine sharing her top tips for success. She says,
“My top tip is to believe in yourself. Take that risk. Contribute in meetings. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Be part of the solution. But most importantly don’t forget to have fun.”