It is all possible!

Variety is the Spice of Life

Mel grew up in Sydney and was used to the daily traffic grind. She did a Bachelor of Social Welfare at Western Sydney University, supporting herself by working part time at Big W. After 12 months in the field, Mel could safely say social work wasn’t really for her, so she approached her old boss at the retail giant for some full-time work until she could figure out what was next.

Before long a ‘Personnel’ job came up with Big W Miranda, which seemed like a good fit given her natural propensity to care for others, so she took the plunge and later accepted a role at the Thornleigh store as HR Manager.

Mel’s husband soon announced that he was keen to escape the city. He had family in the Shoalhaven on the NSW South Coast and as a mechanic was confident he could find work anywhere.

Mel was less convinced there’d be a role for her but she agreed that if she secured a full-time role then they could sell up and move. Her in-laws started sending her copies of the ‘Nowra News’ and ‘South Coast Register’ so she could look for and start applying for jobs.

Two full-time roles were soon advertised, one in purchasing at Nowra Chemical Manufacturers (Nowchem) and the other in admin at Tyco. She went for an interview at Nowchem and got a call the next day offering her the position.

Mel had two main thoughts going through her head when she got the call:

“The first thing I thought was, I don’t know anything about purchasing – the closest I’d come was picking up the milk on the way to work! Secondly, I realised now that I have a job, I actually need to be true to my word and move- part of me didn’t think it would happen!”

In 2008 they made the move. While Mel enjoyed learning purchasing, she made it clear she was eager for an opportunity in HR. Two years later the Managing Director offered her some part time hours in HR and she was supported with plenty of additional training and education opportunities. She has gained credentials in Business, Management, Return to Work Coordination, Mental Health First Aid and Post Grad Studies – all at no expense to her.

13 years later Mel is People and Culture Manager and is proud of her achievements with the business:

“Our values are family, quality and community and we live those every day. We have won ‘Employer of Choice’ so many times we are in the Shoalhaven Business Chamber Hall of Fame, our annual employee survey tells us that people like coming to work and what they like most is the people they work with. We look out for each other, especially in hard times.”

Mel reflects on the way she has been able to build her career in regional Australia:

“I’ve had opportunities to try different things here that I probably wouldn’t have had the chance to do in a metro area. There’s a variety to our roles here, we all wear 15 different hats, which increases our skills and makes the work more interesting.”

“We have a great life here, our son did navy cadets and found lots of things he liked to do that kept him out of trouble and we live on the river with lots of space and only a short drive to the office.”

“My only regret is not getting involved in local networking forums sooner, I found mentors there that gave me the confidence I needed to kick the Supervisor label and move up to Manager. I have family in Sydney who don’t have access to anything like them. They help us all feel interconnected and are so valuable,” she added.


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