Caroline Robinson has been at Sandvik for almost 12 years. During that time, she has rolled out global tech projects, made a number of significant changes to her career path, and had two children. She agrees that it’s kept her busy!
The pull of entrepreneurship
Caroline’s parents owned a steel fabrication business, and she shared, “I’ve grown up in an entrepreneurial family where we talked about business at the dinner table all the time. I’d always had a feeling that I wanted to own my own business, and had a business selling handmade wool floor rugs online for seven years”.
She built her rug business on the side, while she also focused on her career at Sandvik, continually taking on more responsibility.
At Sandvik, Caroline, started as an e-business project manager, launching e-business solutions and optimising electronic processes. She took a year off from that role to have her first child, returning as the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Manager responsible for deploying Salesforce to the business. Her entrepreneurial nature found her seeking new opportunities regularly.
A colleague and I had identified a new solution that would significantly improve Sandvik’s operations and got interest from Sandvik’s global bases. So, my role expanded to roll out e-commerce solutions globally.
For the birth of her second child, Caroline took four months off and returned part-time to complete the global project roll-out, saying, “I wanted to get back to work! It was a project being rolled out across five continents in 15 different countries. I looked after my daughter during the day, and at 7 pm when she went to bed I would start work”.
She admits now that she was pretty sleep deprived during that year, but says, “I’d worked so hard to get the project up and running, building the business case, getting the project framework in place”. She wanted to see the project through, and had an amazing team supporting her to make it all possible. “I really relied on the team to execute the vision.”
While that year was tough, Caroline says,
You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do sometimes. I like having a job that is challenging and interesting, and I liked having an interesting job that I could do part-time.
She closed down her floor rug business as her responsibilities at Sandvik increased, but her pull to being an entrepreneur didn’t abate. Caroline wanted a role more aligned with actually running a business. She knew she needed more product knowledge to be able to do that, so strategically took a position as Sales Support in the Crushing and Screening business. She jokes that it was an apprenticeship to her current role as Business Line Manager – Crushing and Screening for Sales Area APAC. She built her knowledge around the commercial aspects of running Sandvik’s business.
In her Business Line Manager role, Caroline has a lot of autonomy, and her entrepreneurial spirit lives on with her drive to improve the business. She has reached the goal of running her own business, within Sandvik’s corporate controls.
When it’s time for the big move
In her decade at Sandvik her career has taken many twists and turns, starting in tech, leading a global roll-out, moving into product and now looking after a business line.
Her tips to prepare for changes and make sure you’re ready when opportunities arise are:
- Review online jobs platforms. “I review job platforms to see what’s on the market and interests me.”
- Identify your skills gaps. “Once I identified where I wanted to go – a GM role, running a business – then I would look at job descriptions and see which skills I have and which I don’t, to start honing them.”
- Use mentors for advice. “I contacted the Sandvik manager [of her current role] and we had conversations about my skills and gaps. He knew I had certain skills deficiencies when he offered me the role and that was part of my development.”
- Surround yourself with a strong team. “I have really strong managers in my team. I’m open with them about my weaknesses and asking them to build me up, and I do the same. Let’s make each other better.”
How to create opportunities
One of the things Caroline loves about Sandvik is the plethora of growth opportunities. It’s not unusual for someone to join the company in a junior technical or trade role and work their way up through the business.
She shares, “There are heaps of opportunities at Sandvik. I got presented with lots of opportunities that suited my family situation. As soon as I was ready to do something different they were really open to supporting me. If you want to progress they’re really supportive. They will work with you to get you where you want to go”.
To Caroline, relationships are an important part of building a successful career, as no one person is the expert on everything. She has always done her best to put a strong team around her.
Caroline shared some tips for creating your career through building relationships:
- Always be learning. “I’ve always been interested in learning. It never really mattered what I was learning about as long as I was doing something new.”
- Focus on teamwork. “I love being in a team environment where I bring all different people with different skills together to reach a common goal.”
- Appreciate differences. “Learn to appreciate and understand different people for their skills, and identify that it doesn’t have to be you that always does everything. You can surround yourself with people who are really good at what they do.”
- Identify the experts. “I’ve got a lot of experts around me. I like to ask a lot of questions, and if I’ve got a problem I go to all the different people. I make a decision after disseminating all the information.”
I really like working for Sandvik, but it really is about the people that I work with. And while we all have different backgrounds and come from different places, we do share the Sandvik values. It’s a fun place to work, I enjoy the people I work with, and that’s what really makes it – the team, the collaboration, and who I get to work with.
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