What’s your advice for graduates applying for the Coles’ Graduate Program?
If you get through to the assessment centre, my advice is to be yourself and have fun! The assessment centre is not designed to determine if you’re ‘smart’ or ‘dedicated’ – you’ve already proven that by completing your degree and what an achievement that is. The process is designed to help Coles’ leaders get to know you, how you interact with others and what your values are. My advice is to spend some time to get to know others, interact politely, never speak over someone and if there is someone on your table that is not speaking, give them the opportunity to be heard by asking them what they think. These are the characteristics of a leader and that’s what they’re looking for.
What has been your greatest achievement in the Graduate program to date?
My greatest achievement was leading the ‘Mum’s Sause’ initiative. ‘Mum’s Sause’ is a Bolognese pasta sauce misspelt on purpose to reflect a young child’s spelling and to tie back to the CuringHomesickness.org initiative. This initiative unites Children’s Hospitals around Australia to help sick kids get home from hospital sooner. Fifty cents from every jar sold is donated to a children’s hospital in the state or territory that the jar was purchased.
‘Mum’s Sause’ was a six-month project which gave me an opportunity to not only work with our community charity partners but our Merchandise, Corporate Affairs, Marketing, Operations and Own Brand teams on how to innovate and market a product that customers will love but is also good for the community. In its first month, ‘Mum’s Sause’ was the number one selling pasta sauce at Coles and has sold more than 500,000 jars to date. It’s rewarding to know the work we do is making a real difference in people’s lives.
Coles changed its strategy during your grad program, what do you like most about the new strategy?
I really like that our Purpose to ‘Sustainably feed all Australian’s to help them lead healthier, happier lives’ is more than just words, we really live by it. It has become an integral part of everyone’s jobs and is really a part of what we do as a business. This is shown in our commitment to donate food to Secondbite, recycling soft plastics through Recycle and our $50m Nurture Fund that provides grants to small/medium-size businesses to help them develop new market-leading products, technologies and processes.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I really like the autonomy, responsibility and flexibly that comes with working at Coles. Although it’s called a ‘grad program’, I believe you’re really being given the opportunity to have four different roles, all of which require different skills and knowledge. You’re able to guide your own career by preferencing your next rotation, changing streams and taking ownership of the work you’re given. I’ve been able to work in Operations and now Marketing which has given me lots of exposure to learn fast and find my area of passion.
Why did you change streams halfway through your Grad program?
I was working in Store Commercial (Central Operations) but found a real passion for the Marketing side of ‘Mum’s Sause’. After speaking with the Graduate Team, I was supported in pursuing my area of interest and changed streams. This is one of the best features of the program because it truly allows you to explore all areas of the business.
What support is given to you?
The Graduate Team set you up with a ‘buddy’ who is a current graduate and an ‘accelerator coach’ who is a leader in the business. These two team members are there to help and guide you, but of course, anyone can be your mentor and the best thing you can do is to meet as many people as you can and make great connections throughout the business.
Does Coles support flexible working?
Of course. Coles has a flexible working policy which allows you to work flexibly based on how you work best. There have been days that I’ve worked from home or readjusted my start/finish time to allow me to do everyday life admin. It’s as simple as talking to your leader to find what is best for you and the business.