John Fox

John Fox

Queensland University of Technology
Operations Manager
John studied Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) (Medical) at Queensland University of Technology

What's your job about?

Swire is a large, diverse global company headquartered in London, with a focus in the industrial, logistics and property sectors.  Notable Swire brands include Cathay Pacific, Swire Properties, Steamships Trading, among others.  I work in the Swire Australia Group, and our local Australian companies focus on transport, cold chain logistics, mining services and construction materials recycling.

The Management Trainee program for Swire in Australia is a generalist business management program, consisting of rotations throughout Swire's operating subsidiaries to gain hands on experience and commercial business capabilities.  The rotations increase in duration and responsibility over time. The aim of the program is to develop capable, mobile and flexible business leaders to be deployed where required within the Swire businesses.

What am I doing at the moment?  Right now I’m on my third placement in the program in Swire’s transport arm, working on a project to introduce a new piece of technology to the trucks.  The technology allows GPS tracking, speed and fatigue monitoring, tracking of important metrics such as vehicle utilisation and fuel consumption, and also data flow to our core information system to streamline the business.

My role in this project is managing the suppliers of the technology (a 3rd party provider), working with an IT department who build the integration of systems, coordinating with operations (making sure trucks are available to install the technology) and training Drivers, Workshop and Administrators. 

Preious to this, my second placement was an exciting and fast paced one!  I was the scheduler on a new transport contract, providing freight services to a large mine in outback South Australia.  This role involved ensuring stock levels were at adequate levels for the customer, and making sure the equipment and Drivers were planned to deliver accordingly.  Fantastic experience!

By the start of 2017, I’ll have moved into an Operations Manager role!

What's your background?

I grew up and went to school on the Gold Coast, then moved up the road to attend university at QUT in Brisbane.  In that time I spent time oversees on exchange in Hong Kong and an internship in China at an engineering manufacturing company. This was a fantastic experience, I highly recommend it!

In my final year of University I started the process of applying for Graduate Programs, and was looking for something broader than straight Engineering (I wasn’t sure I wanted to be an Engineer to be honest. This is OK at this age!).  I applied to some the banks, consultancy firms, and other large Corporates, such as Swire.  I looked for programs that looked interesting and would provide diverse challenges so I could get a taste for what I enjoyed and what I was good at.  This is exactly what the Swire program turned out to be! 

The programs is very diverse, moves you around, you spend time on projects in head office, then also out in the field where ‘the real work happens’ as they like to say out there.

I’m currently three years into the Program, have thoroughly enjoyed it, and am about to move into my first post program role, a management position in Swire’s transport arm, overseeing two business units of about 70 people and 40 trucks.  Exciting times ahead.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

The Swire Management Trainee program is it is very diverse in nature and recruits from various university degrees – Engineering, Law, Arts as examples.  So definitely, someone from a different background could undertake and succeed in this program.

The key characteristics to succeed in this role is openness to learn, listening skills, analytical and problem solving skills, resilience, and willingness to move for the company and take on challenges.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

The coolest thing about the program?  If you are willing to take on challenges, Swire will throw you chunky challenges!  You’re not ‘paying for dues’ for three years filing paperwork or doing mundane tasks.  Show energy, competency and resilience, and you’ll be assigned large roles and projects.

What are the limitations of your job?

The biggest sticking point for Management Trainees is the requirement to move for the company (approx every 12 to 18 months), and a possibility for these moves to not be in glamorous locations like Melbourne or Sydney CBD.  For example, I did 9 months in ‘Roxby Downs’, a rural remote mining town in outback South Australia, scheduling trucks and drivers into a large copper mine. 

The trade off for these moves is you’ll experience accelerated growth and development as you work with new teams in different roles.  It certainly isn’t mundane!

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  1. There’s no need at all to rush through University, there’s a long time working after this!  Take the opportunity to travel, go on exchange, do an interesting internship oversees (and go for a long period).  It’s ok to do 3 subjects a semester.  At the end the speed doesn’t really matter, the experiences count more.
  2. When applying for your first job out of uni, take a targeted approach.  Don’t scatter gun your applications.  Research the ones you want, then research heavily these companies and submit an outstanding and different application.  For example, make a webpage showcasing your achievements at uni and why you’re a fit for the company, or a video, or something that’s different from the standard resume and cover letter.
  3. Apply for the Swire Australia Management Trainee Program J It’s fantastic!