The holistic approach with Tracey Wagner
Tracey Wagner grew up knowing two things: that she wanted to go to RMIT University and that she wanted to do something in business. However, it wasn’t until a careers counsellor suggested she do transport and logistics that Tracey even considered working in that field. Taking a leap of faith she decided to trust her gut and found that not only did she love logistics, but she also had a true talent for it.
“[After I started working] I knew supply chain was in my blood. One of my very first managers said to me: ‘Once you do this it’ll be in your blood forever!’ – and it is,” laughs Tracey. “I love the operational field; I love the strategy and the people side. I think there’s a really good balance that you can get from the logistics degree that, when you start it … people don’t realise how holistic it really is.”
During her degree Tracey completed her co-op year with the Public Transport Corporation in the tram department. A totally different sector from where she has ended up, the experience acted as a fantastic introduction to how varied logistics can be. “I loved it, I had a blast,” says Tracey. “I think that sector is always going through lots of changes so it was great to be an observer.”
It was Tracey’s co-op that inspired the transport project (a bus route from Monash University in Caulfield all the way to Latrobe University in Bundoora) that would go on to win her a prestigious RMIT College of Business award – which also included a prize that involved flying to Sydney to speak at a co-op conference.
And whether you consider it luck or fate, it just so happened that on that flight Tracey was sat next to someone who worked at Federal Express. “We just got to talking and he said to me: ‘Well when you get back, come and see me about a job’,” says Tracey. “So that’s where I worked for my final year.”
After completing her degree Tracey secured a unique position with the tanker division at Brambles and it wasn’t long before she was working in the operations department, finding herself in charge of long-haul drivers carting liquids all across the country. It was while working at Brambles that Tracey completed her Masters in Logistics at RMIT University.
“It’s such a broad area … lots of people who work [in this industry] don’t have a logistics degree, they come from other areas,” says Tracey. “But I feel like I’m really fortunate to have that strong business grounding as well as the logistics [qualifications].”
Over the course of several years Tracey slowly but surely navigated her way through the industry, gaining invaluable experiences in several different areas of her field before eventually landing at Coca Cola – where she spent nearly a decade working in several logistical roles and even doing a stint as the HR director in Sydney.
“That was really left of field … but it was a fantastic opportunity,” says Tracey. “That came from my focus in supply chain and my focus on people and the culture within our operations in Victoria.”
Recently [September 2017] Tracey has taken up a new position with Swisse Wellness as their Supply Chain Director. She hasn’t been there long but it’s obvious how much she enjoys her new job, a feeling that is only strengthened by the positive culture Swisse clearly works hard to engender. The light airy space in Collingwood is immediately welcoming – as are the daily meditations at 3pm, team breakfasts and lunches, and the overarching health and wellbeing focus.
Tracey’s advice to students and other people looking to enter the logistics space is to embrace the holistic nature of the field. “In logistics you need really good financial skills, you need general business skills, you need people skills … it’s quite complex all of that coming together – but I think that’s what makes it exciting too."