On the Job with John from Swire

Lynn Elsey
Lynn Elesy
Team GradAustralia

John Fox joined Swire in 2013 and is a graduate management trainee at Swire, he graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Engineering (Med), from QLD University of Technology.


What attracted you to Swire? 

I was keen to join an established company with a broad, long-term graduate program. I wasn’t completely sure I wanted to go down the engineering path, so the prospect of a generalist business orientated program was appealing. 

How does the grad program work? 

The graduates do two to three rotations among Swire’s Australian operating companies. The first is usually a generalist business role in the head office to get a grounding of how a business actually works, including different functions and roles, basic business finance and communication. This provides a great platform for the second secondment, which is usually a commercial or operational role in a different company. 

My first placement was with Swire subsidiary HSE Mining, a mining services contractor with headquarters in Perth. I initially worked on small projects then transitioned into two half-year stints with asset management and IT projects. I then moved to my current role with another Swire company, Kalari, a specialist bulk logistics provider, where I am a delivery scheduler and client stock manager in a recently awarded contract, which is great for my development. I am exposed to all aspects of contract management, from the contract KPIs and rates to customer management. 

Biggest surprise of the job? 

It has turned out to be even better than I anticipated. The graduate program manager planned a customised program based on my strengths and I have been given challenging projects to work on. For example, six months into the program I was given a chunky IT project, interfacing our accounting system with our asset management system. It was daunting but I had good guidance from an IT manager who guided me through proper project management methodology. 

Biggest challenges? 

My first placement was with a recently acquired subsidiary and I was the first Swire management trainee they had seen. I was also new to the program, so building positive relationships with the existing employees was important. It also coincided with the downturn in mining, so it was an interesting time. 

Best bits? 

The people I have worked with over the past two years. The managers are all high performers and everyone has a strong work ethic. The projects I have worked on provided accelerated learning opportunities. 

Any tips for students? 

Start preparing to apply for graduate programs early. If you have the luxury of selecting between a couple of offers, it really pays to have done your research and are sure that you choose the program that fits you.