David Williams

David Williams

University of Melbourne
Operations Manager
David studied Anthropology (Honours) & Psychology at University of Melbourne

What's your job about?

I work for the Australian division of Swire who have a number of businesses in Australia, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam. My current role is as the Operations Manager of Swire Cold Storage which means I am responsible for running the day to day warehouse operations while also improving the safety, operational and financial results of the site.  

My role is a mix of managing an internal team of supervisors, team leaders and warehouse staff, engaging with customers, ensuring daily operational targets are met (e.g., orders picked, trucks despatched on time) and managing longer term business improvement projects.

If I was describing to someone the exact day to day activities in my role I would say that I walk around the site, speak to my team (and customers), engage with their issues and assist them to resolve them by setting in place clear processes which improve the safety, service and financial results of the warehouse.
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What's your background?

I grew up in Melbourne near Chadstone shopping centre, went to primary school around there and high school at St Kevin’s and Melbourne High School.

After school I was accepted into Arts at Melbourne University where I studied Psychology & Anthropology and completed an honours year in Anthropology. Following university I took a year off to travel and lived in Germany for 9-10 months attending a language school and working as a waiter in the afternoons/ evenings.

My step dad found the job advertised in the weekend paper and I applied after doing some research on the company as the company seemed like a really good fit. The position also offered an opportunity to enter a business role with no prior experience in this field.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes. The great thing about the Swire program is it takes people from a range of different backgrounds and encourages them to get a breadth of business experience. I started in a commercial analyst role in a transport company and am now managing the operations of a refrigerated warehouse. The main characteristics the company seem to be looking for are that you are willing to listen to and learn from other people, and have the ability to analyse situations and processes and make practical steps towards improving the workplace/ business unit you are in.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

I like to see improvement in the business at all levels and ensure that everyone in the team feels engaged in the process of making the site a safe, productive and enjoyable place to work. The coolest thing about the job is being in a position where I am meaningfully able to make changes to the business and am supported in doing so.

What are the limitations of your job?

There are some limitations to the job and these largely depend on the role you are in. At the moment I have a lot of responsibility and as we are a 24 hour site there is a need to do hours well outside of normal business hours. This is offset by the flexibility in hours, so I can plan around a social life as well.

The other limitation (depending on how you look at it) is the requirement to move between placements. I love this aspect as it means I get to move cities/ countries every couple of years – but it can have an impact on your personal life.

Pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • Feel free to travel before you get a job – it’s great to start work but there’s no rush. Have fun and work will always be there when you get back.
  • Don’t always take the first job opportunity you get. It’s about finding a job that you want to do and one that fits you.