Opinion: Skye Jackson on empowering women in convenience

Skye Jackson, General Manager of Merchandise at Ampol, reflects on some important themes covered at the recent AACS Women in Convenience events in Sydney and Melbourne.

As a board member of the Australian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS), I am proud to be involved in AACS Women in Convenience (WIC). It has been a while since we have been able to attend industry events face to face, and I am incredibly happy that we can connect in this way again.

Being part of the WIC panel in 2022, I reflected on the first time that I attended one of these events in Melbourne in 2013, after moving from Queensland for a promotion that I did not think I was ready for. I remember feeling inspired by the strong and successful women sharing their career journeys and could only have dreamt at that point I could be one of those women in the future.

Being part of the panels in both Sydney and Melbourne this year was a wonderful experience. I thoroughly enjoyed joining strong women across the industry sharing their stories of growth and development. I was left feeling both inspired and informed, and interested in the emergence of consistent themes. As someone who has been in the convenience industry for quite a while, it was nice to reflect on how much positive change the industry has seen in recent years. This includes vast improvements in diversity, particularly the emergence of women in leadership roles. While we have come a long way, we agreed that there is still much more to be done. Organisations may be at different points in their journey towards diversity and inclusion, and achieving diversity is not a simple task that can be simply ticked off and ‘completed’.

Reflecting on the WIC sessions this year, there were a few important themes covered by many of the panellists that have since continued to resonate with me:

  • Back yourself! You are your own best advocate, so make sure you do that well. Focus on what you can do, not what you cannot. Many of us know the feeling of looking through a job description and focusing on the things we do not, or may not have, instead of thinking about the things we do have. We also talked about how sometimes not knowing everything is an advantage and can give you ‘fresh eyes’ to see what others may be overlooking.
  • Be open to opportunities. Some of the amazing women on our panels had moved, even internationally, to take advantage of an opportunity that enabled them to progress their career. Personally, being open has allowed me to live in three different states but has also meant that I have taken opportunities to work on projects that broadened my knowledge and experience. I have also had a relatively open view of what my career path may be (as opposed to narrow, or niche) which has meant that I have been flexible about taking side steps to different areas, which has helped to round out my knowledge and skills.
  • Look for advocates and mentors. Mentors are valuable and many people have these either formally or informally. Advocates can be equally important, making a point to connect with other stakeholders externally or internally may just help you take that next step in your career, these are people in your network that may put your name forward when they hear about an opportunity.
  • You are responsible for your development. If your organisation has great structure around development plans, take advantage of it. Regardless of the structure that exists, your development is your responsibility, and you should drive it.

I would like to convey a big thank you to everyone who attended the recent WIC events. We were genuinely thrilled to see you all, face to face! Events like this do not happen without support so a special thank you to Darren Park from UCB for sponsoring the WIC events and to Theo Foukkare for championing diversity and inclusion. Through these dedicated support networks, we are indeed able to continue to drive real change.

This article was written by Skye Jackson, General Manager of Merchandise at Ampol, for the October/November issue of C&I Retailing magazine.

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