Three women at the top of their game in supply chain discuss the benefits of diversity and inclusion.
Courtney Ribbons, Supply Chain Manager – Australian Operations for Pernod Ricard Winemakers
Pernod Ricard received the Drinks Association’s Contribution to Industry Award for Gender Equity last year and their head of Supply Chain, Courtney Ribbons (pictured main), is the embodiment of everything that the business is striving for.
Starting as an executive assistant at Rowland Flat in the Barossa Valley, Courtney was encouraged, supported and mentored by the finance manager she supported who saw in her a flair for numbers. With support from Pernod Ricard, Courtney continued working full time while she completed a Commerce degree via correspondence with Deakin University.
In 2009, she moved from finance into operations as a Supply & Operations Planning Manager leading a team of 26. She has never looked back and is now leading a team of 70 across Planning, Distribution & Logistics.
Courtney relishes working at the nexus between consumer and product, working with people, developing the connections, driving direction and strategy and leading a team. She firmly believes that, for the best performance, workforces should be diverse and inclusive at all levels, and reflective of their consumer bases.
“Women make 65-70% of the alcohol-purchasing decisions for at-home consumption. If your supply chain team and leadership team do not reflect your consumers, you risk not connecting, not knowing or not understanding their needs,” she says.
The diversity and inclusion of the supply chain is an ongoing story, informed by the Pernod Ricard’s Better Balance Program that launched in 2017. Language in advertising is carefully chosen, workplace collaboration is encouraged right from the interview stage and ongoing education is championed throughout the business. For Courtney, this means she is creating a supply chain workforce rich with varied perspectives, insights and experiences.
“You can’t just hire a diverse workforce. The most important piece is the inclusiveness: how do you ensure you are getting the benefits of diversity once you have achieved a diverse workforce,” she says.
Raelene Treseder, Customer Logistics Leader Australia (Lion Australia)
Raelene Treseder lives and breathes supply chain.
“I love how different it is every day. I am constantly learning, evolving, moving and doing new things,” she notes.
When Raelene started working in supply chain 18 years ago, she was the only female working in the space.
“It was very much a male weighted environment of fluoro vests, steel cap boots, with a ‘get in there and do the job’ attitude,” Raelene recalls. “There was a massive disconnect between the supply chain team and the sales and customer interactions. It was a very transactional, black and white environment with one set of standard terms for customers.
“I had to prove my worth very quickly in a male dominant workforce, not only to show that I could step up to the plate but also that there were other options to consider, options that didn’t jeopardise service and costs but could mould and evolve supply chain to better meet the customers’ needs,” she says.
Since then, Raelene has been part of the evolution of supply chain at Lion and in her role, she relishes being the conduit between the warehouse, distribution network and the customer. She loves the strategic focus of the position and her working relationships with her stakeholders. The new sites, new technologies and synergies keep her engaged and energised.
At Lion, the supply chain workforce, including logistics and breweries, has a target to achieve a 50:50 gender split by 2026. The ambition for diversity and gender balance starts at the point of hire. Lion ensures there is a well-rounded pool of diverse talent right from the interview stage.
Caroline Aspridis, General Manager, Alcohol Manufacturing – Asahi Beverages
With a double degree under her belt, Caroline stepped straight from university into Fosters’ Operations Graduate program in 2002 and has been working in the drinks industry ever since. The industry has held ongoing appeal for her as it keeps coming at her with “interesting and fantastic professional development opportunities”.
However, it seems that these opportunities are, more than anything, a testimony to how well Caroline has performed throughout her career, completing an MBA with first class honours along the way.
Throughout the years, Caroline has observed more women working and leading the supply chain sector of the industry as well as an increasing diversity in supply chain teams. For Caroline, it is a diverse team that is crucial to the success of supply chain.
“When you have a trusting work environment, and if you have a balance of different people who come from different places with different experiences, different genders and different age groups, then you create a work environment where you can bounce off those differences and challenge each other in a positive way,” she says.
With the integration of Asahi Beverages and CUB (formerly Fosters), Caroline is revisiting many of those professional connections forged at the beginning of her career and visiting the familiar work sites where she made them. As General Manager, Alcohol Manufacturing – Asahi Beverages, she is charged with integrating “the 150 years of beer brewing, knowledge and technical expertise at CUB with the amazing culture of Asahi Beverages.”
“I am looking forward to learning what we can each bring to the table, what works, combining it and moving forward,” she says.
Pernod Ricard Winemakers, Lion & Asahi Beverages are Category One Members of the Drinks Association.