My name is Vaughan Jones and I am the Supply Manager for Wilmar Sugar. I met Greg at a conference in Melbourne July 2019 where he was one of the keynote speakers and grabbed a copy of his Chiefmaker book. I have always been an avid reader of a number of books and on returning home with a number of them from other speakers I decided to read Chief Maker first. I got to page 12 and there is was a question I had been asking myself many times and often not from a positive position. “What is your purpose?” I joined the Chiefmaker Academy in September 2019.
I was definitely in a rut at home and work. I had every excuse you could imagine for why it was others at fault and not my own. Home life wasn’t good, my relationship with my daughter was terrible. The last three or four performance reviews with my manager had literally ended really badly and looking back I was very fortunate I was still employed. I remember going in to a meeting that included three General Managers who were asking me to help resolve our Greenhouse Gas emissions reporting, which technically is not in my area of responsibility and I all but told them thanks but no thanks and not in a good way. My health was poor (still a work in progress), and my work practises and job fulfillment were rock bottom. I have a team of 40 people spread from Ingham to Sarina some 600 kilometres of Northern Queensland coast and I wasn’t even seeing some of them for 4-6 months of the year. So this is where I am at mid 2019 coming into 2020 which for many has been the most challenging year of their lives and mine has been no exception. I am going to list the events I have been through this year to give context to what this course has done for me. I know there are many others out there that have also been through even tougher times but for me without going through the Academy course I don’t know how I would have coped with what hit me in the first few months of 2020.
Jan 9th 2020 Proserpine Sugar Mill store burns to the ground the morning of my 50th Birthday party. Insurance claim will amount to $14M and the potential we will not be able to get the mill operational for start of 2020 crush is significant.
My Mother In Law is unable to attend the birthday event as she was taken to hospital with breathing difficulties. Six weeks later she passes away from a rare form of cancer Signet Ring Cell Carcinoma.
During this six week period my father who lives in New Zealand and suffers from mental illness has an incident that enacts the mental health act and he is incarcerated into a secure psychiatric facility.
A close friend who has cancer succumbs and passes away the week after my Mother in law is diagnosed.
Then along came COVID and as a Supply Manager this presented some major challenges.
Your boss is your number 1 customer. I went into my review in July after reading the Chiefmaker book and listening to a number of podcasts. I was determined to come out of it with a better result. When we came to the end of the review I think gobsmacked is the word most appropriate to describe the response from my manager. My previous three or four had ended with comments about being a glass half empty this time it was a lengthy discussion on what had changed and my meeting up with Greg at the conference. I have had two reviews since and both have been extremely good and financially rewarding and my relationship with my manager is strong.
I completed the emissions reporting project at the back end off last year as well as a number of other wish list projects the GM of operations came up with. I completed phase two in the first half of this year. I set up a leased warehouse in Proserpine and had stores operations set up without impacting the crush start date even with the COVID issues. I was asked to attend the leadership team meeting for that where the Executive General Manager stated he couldn’t believe what had been achieved with the mill operating on time and raised this point again at my managers performance review.
Greg put out a podcast at the start of the pandemic around making sure communication was effective. I took that advice and set up an emergency meeting where we defined our communication protocols and allocated my team members to specific key suppliers. I set up a weekly report out to all operations staff and management including the leadership team. To date we have not had any major impact to our supply chain. I drafted a note to our suppliers stating we would like up front response to any potential shortages including proposed alternatives through the key contacts we put in place. I now get regular visits from GM’s and regular invites to leadership team meetings.
I just returned from celebrating my 25th wedding anniversary with my wife. Our annual planned event which is part of the vision board we shared. Refer to Game Plan section of Chiefmaker. My relationship with my daughter is great. Although she continues to beat us at family board game events.
I can’t put a value on what the course has given me and I’ve not yet completed it. As for my purpose. Just to be the best version of myself in every aspect of my life and continue to learn and appreciate every opportunity I get.
The next generation of leaders face an increasingly complex landscape which can bring enormous pressure. This allows you to stand back from the front line, take a deep breath, assess your position, and determine a deliberate and planned way forward in building a career that is meaningful.
Agency owners struggle because they have high potential employees but aren’t quite sure how to give them the leadership skills they need to step into bigger roles. Which means the owner is stuck carrying too much of the load and the agency can’t scale because the owner becomes the bottleneck.
Greg’s Chief Maker Academy arms up and comers and young leaders with the skills, understanding and frameworks they need to step up and become a part of the agency’s long-term future.