Megna Murali is a foodie, and the first thing she plans when she travels is where to eat! She was in heaven in Japan a few years ago, where everything was delicious. So, it’s no surprise she’s building her career around food, as the Marketing Data Analytics & Insights Manager for Woolworths.
Leading with analytics
Megna has been with Woolworths for two years. She joined whilst looking for opportunities to grow her insights capability and Woolworths was investing heavily in their analytical capability. She had already heard good things about the culture as her husband had previously joined Woolworths.
“Through his experience, I knew it was a really good place to work. That was really important to me. I wanted to ensure the environment was going to be supportive, there was room to grow, and analytics was an area of investment with opportunities to learn.”
Woolworths understands that analytics and insights are key to its success. They are committed to enhancing technical capability and Megna says they are a leading employer in that space. We asked her who would succeed in data and analytics at Woolworths and she shared,
“Anyone that enjoys working in a dynamic environment would do well. Things change very rapidly. If you thrive off that energy and new challenges every day then analytics would be a great career for you.”
She emphasized that fast-moving doesn’t necessarily mean high-stress. There are lots of opportunities to learn, and Woolworths has plenty of training on offer for people starting out or expanding their analytical careers.
Megna loves the technical challenge of her work and thrives in Woolworths’ culture.
“They have a very flexible and trust-based culture. There is freedom within a framework – everyone has their guidelines and goals which are well communicated, and you get a lot of freedom around how you work within your space.”
Flexing on flexibility
Flexibility was a regular part of work at Woolworths pre-COVID, with many support office team members taking up the opportunity to visit partner sites or work from home some days of the week.
“The flexibility is helpful for things like appointments – not everything can be left to weekends. Many colleagues who have children adjust their schedules to support their parenting responsibilities, and they enjoy the flexibility.”
Megna had some ideas on what makes flexible working so successful at Woolworths:
- Trust from the beginning. “The main thing is the level of trust. Often when you join a new company, you have to build that trust and prove you’re not ‘slacking off’. At Woolworths, there was clear accountability and they trusted me. There was support to do my job the way I wanted right from the beginning.”
- Understand the benefits. “It can improve productivity because you can work at a time and place that suits you best.”
- Lead by example. “It’s one thing to say ‘we support flexibility and diversity’ but it becomes obvious very quickly if it’s something that’s said but not practiced. Seeing my manager and the senior leadership across Woolworths really live has been important.”
- Communicate clearly. “Make sure you communicate the flexible working policy to new hires so they can understand the expectations and benefits, and get the most out of it .”
Committing to equal representation
Megna would like to see more businesses committing to equal pay, equal representation and flexibility.
“There’s a lot of general acknowledgement that women can tend to be paid less than men in technical fields. Woolworths has been open about committing to equal pay and equal board membership; with a commitment to at least 40% of executive and senior management positions be held by women. That gives me confidence that when I’m offered a role, what they’re offering aligns regardless of gender. If you know what you’re being offered is competitive and at the right level for your skill and experience then you’re more likely to stay.”
Woolworths’ commitment to equal Board representation sets the tone for the rest of the company, where there are a lot of women leading teams. It also highlights to women at the start of their careers that progression is possible.
Woolworths has a culturally diverse workforce. Megna herself is Indian, and has been in Australia for ten years, and lived in New Zealand before that. Woolworths’ workforce is representative of the communities it serves.
Building career resilience
In a previous role many years ago, Megna was made redundant due to an economic downturn and says she was unprepared for the impact it had on her. From that experience, she learned the importance of keeping your skills up to date – particularly in analytics as the industry changes so rapidly.
“The skills I picked up in that role were transferable so I could move into a different industry. It’s meant I am particularly conscious of the value in keeping my skills current and continuously learning.”
Megna suggests building your interpersonal skills and network and being an active part of your community. Gaining experience across different aspects of the business will both build career resilience and help you in future roles.
“Woolworths is a big, complex business. It’s important to actively learn how different teams work and learn to adapt your style of working to the team you’re collaborating with. Workplaces are changing very quickly, and learning new things can only be beneficial.”
At Woolworths, Megna says the sky is the limit.
“There is a lot of investment in attracting a diverse workforce, which is important for women because Woolworths offers the opportunity to grow your career. As the entire industry continues to invest in technology and IT, there is plenty of room to grow.”