When Dani Blokland started her career at Woolworths Group, it was “only supposed to be a job to help pay for the year 11 ski trip!” but over 16 years later, she has no plans to leave. During that time, Dani has progressed from working in her local supermarket to the Operations Manager of a brand-new distribution center in Queensland.
“I have been so lucky to be able to experience many different roles within the Woolworths Group. Every brand I have worked for within Woolworths Group has been filled with great people following values that set a team up to succeed – where else would you rather work?!”
As one of the only women in an Operations Manager role within Supply Chain, we asked Dani to talk us through her route to the top.
Setting her sights on the prize
When Dani started her after-school job in her hometown’s Woolworths Supermarket, she had no idea how far it would take her. Over the next ten years, in a range of stores across Queensland, she progressed up to Assistant Store Manager. It was while working in Supermarkets that she had her lightbulb moment when a management training course at the Brisbane Regional Distribution Center set a new course for her career.
“I will always remember the size of the operation and being in awe of the number of team members and leaders who worked together seemingly effortlessly to supply over 250 stores and pick over a million cartons a week. Everyone was completing their parts to keep it functioning as the biggest warehouse in the Southern Hemisphere. I knew after that visit that one day I would be a part of the Supply Chain team.”
Making the jump
After her decade in Supermarkets, Dani took up an opportunity to transfer to the recruitment team, where she spent the next three years “assisting all the Woolworths Group brands with their recruitment needs.” It was while there, that a previous manager approached her and suggested she apply for a role as Team Leader in the Brisbane Regional Distribution Center. Successful in her application, this role was then followed by a position as a Day Shift Manager.
“Making the change to Supply Chain was a difficult decision because I was moving from a role where I was responsible for my own workload and not having any direct reports, to a role leading a large team. My decision was based on the opportunities Supply Chain could provide and wanting to work in a team again. Being able to work with and develop my team to see what we could achieve was the biggest draw for me.”
A proud moment
Dani was then offered the prestigious position she holds now, as the Operations Manager of the newly created Heathwood Chilled and Frozen Distribution Center. Being asked to take on this role is a career-high and one she says will be hard to beat.
“To be offered the opportunity to open a brand-new distribution site, as the Operations Manager at the age of 31 is my proudest career moment to date. It has been the most amazing experience. To know my leaders have the trust and confidence in me to bring this project to life is something that will be hard to surpass.”
Making an impact as a leader
As Operations Manager, Dani ensures “all stock is received by customers at the highest quality, in full, on time and error free.” In addition, she works with her team to “maintain a safe, enjoyable environment, so that every single person who works on site goes home safely.” It’s a big responsibility, juggling a variety of tasks, and it’s not one Dani takes lightly.
Dani takes her relationship with her team seriously too, and is aware of the impact her role as a leader can have on those around her:
“Each day I work with my team to monitor operations and improve on the day before. I believe I am an open and honest leader who values their team’s opinions and suggestions.”
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Supported every step of the way
Supply Chain and Logistics are traditionally quite male-dominated industries, but this hasn’t held Dani back from achieving success. She feels she has had the full backing of Woolworths Group at every stage of her journey, from her first years with the company to finding her strengths as a leader:
“Over my time with Woolworths Group I have had the opportunity to attend a number of leadership courses both as part of the Supermarket team and Supply Chain, which have taught me valuable skills to further my career.”
In fact, Dani says Woolworths Group stands apart from its competitors for the support it provides all of its employees to thrive:
“In my eyes, Woolworths Group has always been an industry leader in the way it strives to create a better workplace for all team members, in any way possible.”
The best day ever is every day at Woolworths
Which brings us back to Dani’s best day ever. . . We asked Dani to describe what her best day would look like working in her current role, and from her answer it’s clear Dani has found her happy place:
“It’s hard to say what the best day would look like, as I feel I experience it every day. Even if it’s a day with challenges, working with my team and achieving what we do every day – what could be better?! I’ve been here for more than 16 years – I think that speaks for itself. What other company could you work in so many different roles and locations, and with such a great bunch of people – why would I want to leave?”
Looking back over her years of experience trying out lots of different roles in different areas of the business, Dani encourages everyone to keep pushing forward and progressing, and not to be afraid to try new things:
“Have confidence in yourself to take the next step, you will never know what you can do until you try.”