Jolene Spall, Operations Director, Whitworths

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Jolene

What’s your job like?

No day is ever the same – my job is exciting and fulfilling.  I am the Operations Director at Whitworths, manufacturer of Dried Fruits, Nuts and Seeds, and a member of the business Leadership team.  Together we work on the strategic plans to drive the business forward and as part of this, I work with the Operation team to develop the strategic plans that are required to meet the needs of the business.  Within my core role are the plans to develop the greatest asset within our business – our teams.  Also within my role is the setting of operational KPIs for the short and long term as well as the identification of Improvement projects to deliver.  I love leading a strong enthusiastic team who are delivering great results every day.

 

How did you get into this career?

My background is food science and nutrition and I started my career within the Quality function before I acquired Operational and Quality Improvement qualifications as a part of further studies.  My career began in a lab in a quality control role.  Having never even considered life in Manufacturing, early in my career I was given the opportunity to work in manufacturing production in a supervisory role.  Sceptically I took the opportunity and it has been the best decision I have made.  My career has progressed through various roles, including Shift Manager, Quality Manager, Change Manager, Operations Manager, Business Unit Manager, and Manufacturing Director.

 

What do you enjoy about working in manufacturing?

The people, the challenge, and the pace.  Within my current role, I feel like I have an opportunity to make a real difference by moving the business forward and developing our people.

What challenges have you faced?

It can be difficult to balance the short and long term needs of the business.  Our operations need to work for now, but also be fit for the future. We also need to keep an eye on what’s going on in the market, as an operations team so we can make predictions on how these trends will impact our plans.   As a member of the cross functional leadership team, we need to balance the often differing priorities of each function to deliver the best result for the business and our stakeholders. 


What advice would you have for young women thinking about manufacturing as a career?

When many young people think about careers, manufacturing isn’t always top of their list.  However, if you think about what you really want from a role and a career, you may realise all that Manufacturing can provide as part of that.  Where else could you work with leading edge technology, learn how to motivate large teams of people and rise to the challenge of a fast paced constantly changing environment to deliver an end product which our consumers and customers love?  It’s an exciting industry to work in, and there are lots of opportunities to progress.  My advice would be to give it a go, just as I did – you won’t regret it!

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