25 August 2011

Theory To Practice

As the only white goods manufacturer left in Australia, it’s fair to say that the challenges facing our management team here at Electrolux are somewhat unique.

Consider the fact that we also retain all of our departments in-house in terms of things like business management, marketing, manufacturing, engineering, contact centres, transport logistics, supply chains, warehousing and distribution, and you start to get a fuller picture of the nature of those challenges. It’s also because of this that we’re able to offer an equally unique learning environment for Master of Management students.

Working with them has been an interesting experience. Having already absorbed a great deal of theoretical knowledge, a step into the real world has proven very helpful to their continued development as future management professionals. Encountering a place where things don’t always fit into nice little neat boxes was initially a confronting experiencing for many of them. They had to adapt and quickly become accustomed to applying their knowledge to a practical setting that wasn’t always as predictable as they may have expected.

What the students found particularly enlightening was the opportunity to tap into our in-house departments to draw their information. They were able to sit down with senior managers and ask all the questions they needed to ask and receive expert guidance and coaching. In the process, they learned about the different style of management required for an operational model such as ours.

While the advantage of maintaining a powerful in-house capacity is a greater degree of control and alignment, the danger is that you can fall into a comfort zone whereby you still think you’re the best in the market. It’s a zone that must be avoided at all costs, and the reason we continually seek to reassess and benchmark ourselves by engaging with external consultants who keep us abreast of what's happening in the marketplace.

Author: Peter Savas, Director of Service and Logistics, Electrolux Australia

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