August 26th, 2021

This year, Woolworths Group is a key sponsor of National Skills Week (23-29 August 2021). National Skills Week sets out to bring to life the talents, skills, career pathways and value of apprentices and trainees across Australia to the wider public and employers. The week is dedicated to raising the status of practical and vocational learning.

As Australia’s largest employer, Woolworths Group is looking forward to showcasing some of the amazing opportunities on offer to young Australians in retail. Woolworths is a food and everyday needs business, which encompasses more than just the supermarkets that customers are most familiar with. Stories like Sam’s experience, show us that there are an array of pathways available to grow rewarding careers across Woolworths Group. ‘RE-THINK’ what a career in retail could look like for you!


Samantha Drew
State eCom Format Manager – QLD

Sam began her career with Woolworths as a high school student, working as a casual team member in the Maryborough store, in Queensland. During a break from her studies at university, Samantha began to work full time at Woolworths and from there progressed to a Department Manager, then Deli Specialist and finally a Store Manager. Sam says, “At that point, uni became just a distant memory!”

As Sam began to progress her career further towards her goal of becoming a Group Manager where she would oversee a number of stores, she began to question whether she might benefit from a sideways move to stretch her skills. She came across an opportunity to move outside her comfort zone and explore the Format & Network Development area of the business. “Within a few months, my Line Manager, John Innes, offered me a relief role as a Store Renewal Manager, helping manage store upgrades and renovations. I really thrived in that role and had a passion for keeping it simple for our stores.” Sam was made permanent in this role and from there, grew more and more curious about the Format & Network Development space. “It truly offers the ability to influence and improve standards and processes for stores, which benefits our team members and our customers”, Sam says.

Finally, as eCommerce demand for home delivery and other online services surged during COVID-19, Sam had the opportunity to lead the Queensland state team to help neighbourhood stores increase their capacity to serve online orders in their community. “This project was about enabling our store teams with the right space, tools, and equipment laid out by a strong set of standards and a data-led strategy to ensure their success in the future. Ultimately, it meant we could deliver for our customers at a time they needed us to help them shop in new ways. Having the experience as a store manager this project became my passion and an opportunity to ensure our stores could overcome the challenges they faced to better meet our customers’ needs,” says Sam. 

The success of the project, as well as the continued increase of Woolworths’ eCommerce business led to the creation of roles like Sam’sin each state. Sam was proudly appointed to her current role as State eCom Format Manager for QLD and says it has been her best career decision to date!


Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?

Having just moved into the eCom space I definitely see myself furthering my career in this side of the business. eCom is the future of our business and although I do not have a specific role in mind as it’s always evolving and growing, my passion for eCom and the convenience it provides for our customers inspires me.


What advice would you give to people who are just starting their career at Woolworths?

My advice would be to always leave yourself open to opportunity! Even if you think you’re not ready for that next step, believe in those leaders around you and the talent they see!


How did you adjust to the shift from a store based role to a highly senior, strategic role? 

The experience I gained from managing a customer facing store environment has assisted greatly in being able to transition into this role. Having a real understanding of the day to day operations of a store, and the challenges that the store teams can face in providing the best experience for our customers, helps me communicate valuable insights to other senior stakeholders when decisions are being made.

I think it’s critical for any senior strategic role to continue to spend time in the stores, talking to the store leaders and teams, to ensure that data led strategic decisions are aligned with the real time requirements of our team and customers.


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