A Passion for People: Meet Michelle Sandison

July 1, 2021BrewHub

A Passion for People: Meet Michelle Sandison

Michelle Sandison, General Manager People ExperienceA passion for people

At its heart, providing a corporate workplace with the very best coffee experience is about prioritising people – BrewHub’s purpose is to enhance workplace design and culture so our customers and their people can reach their potential and thrive.

That’s where Michelle Sandison, our General Manager People Experience,  comes in – because a happy team builds an enviable culture and business growth follows.

At BrewHub our people come first and we want to support and maximise their potential and growth. Our goal is to make the BrewHub team experience, consistent with the one we are promoting for clients, and one which is truly aligned with our purpose.

BrewHubbers Team at our Headquarter in WA.

Western Australian based BrewHubbers

When Michelle first met David Scott, BrewHub had recently published its business purpose – an outward expression of the vision and values that the BrewHub team already identified with.

I knew straight away I was in the right place. These instantly resonated with me because they are my personal values and reflect the aspirations I have always held for others in the work place.

All the values matter but inclusiveness is particularly important to Michelle.

It’s not enough to say we accommodate difference, rather it’s about recognising the value, creativity and innovation that differences and diverse perspectives add to the BrewHub workplace.

Challenges bring opportunities

Michelle’s personal mantra is to remain open to learning, new ideas and thinking. Innately curious about other people and always interested in acquiring new knowledge, she believes that every experience and challenge presents a valuable opportunity to grow, professionally and personally.

When Michelle started with BrewHub in late 2019, her priorities were the basics – reviewing contracts, salaries, and workplace policies to ensure the essential employment fundamentals were up to scratch and consistently embedded across the entire business.

When COVID-19 arrived three months later, everything paused as workplace safety and workforce planning became priority. Michelle instinctively knew one of the biggest challenges would be responsive communication.

Michelle meeting with BrewHub Management team when converting to virtual meetings during the 2020 COVID lockdown

Michelle meeting with BrewHub Management team when converting to virtual meetings during the 2020 COVID lockdown

As a business operating across Australia, BrewHub was impacted by varied government decisions that were changing daily, sometimes hourly. Michelle is proud of how BrewHub responded – ensuring external and internal communication with customers, suppliers and staff was timely, effective and widespread.

BrewHub leveraged its people platform Employment Hero so that employees received real time updates about safety practices and workforce changes relevant to their role and location. They also introduced quarterly BrewConnect sessions so that staff could receive meaningful business updates and remain connected with each other.

BrewHub Managing Director Dave Scott with Chief Financial Officer, Craig Ellingson

Featuring David Scott and Craig Ellingson having a One-on-one catch up near the office.

While some BrewHubbers re-evaluated their personal priorities and decided to return to study, to family overseas, or become full-time parents and carers, Michelle is pleased that BrewHub only suffered the permanent closure of one area as a result of COVID-19, with most employees able to be redeployed and retained.

As Australia settles into a new normal in 2021, Michelle has finished embedding the basics and is ready to activate the people plans including building capability in leaders and technical experts to reignite our national growth plans, while maintaining the momentum of improving communication and collaboration across team and locations.

Developing potential in others

Whilst studying for an undergraduate degree and working full-time, Michelle was progressing quickly in retail management: particularly customer service, troubleshooting, recruiting, training, and managing a large team.

When a multi-national company came knocking, she was swept into their sales team – starting from the lowest rung – learning all aspects of sales and honing her customer facing skills – a period she describes as the very best on-the-job training you can have.

Working in a highly competitive, regulated, and restricted product market I had to learn very quickly to innovate and think outside the box to remain ahead.

Michelle found that one of her strengths was getting the best out of other people, recognising early that effective, empowered individuals always lead to improved business performance. After progressing through the sales levels, including a move to Melbourne, and establishing herself as a respected Key Accounts Manager, Michelle’s career pivoted from ‘product to people’ and she was appointed as Sales Training & Development Manager, responsible for recruitment, training and development of a regional workforce.

Senior roles in Perth and Kuala Lumpur followed, and after a cross functional move back to Melbourne as a Human Resources Business Partner for three years, Michelle had the opportunity to create a new department as Head of Commercial Capability in 2013.

Michelle Sandison presenting the commercial transformation in her role as Head of Commercial Capability in previous role

Michelle Sandison presenting the commercial transformation in her role as Head of Commercial Capability in previous employer

She put into practice all she had learned, designing and implementing best practice capability building solutions with a wide commercial lens to lead the commercial transformation. She spearheaded new development solutions for key accounts, marketing, and field sales with new ways of learning to match the evolved world of digital engagement, having a measurable impact on the business bottom line.

Michelle observes that the role of ‘human resources’ has changed dramatically in the last 20 years.

Managers used to handball all their problems to HR – problem practices and problem people and expected them to be fixed’ says Michelle ‘but HR now has a rightful place at the executive table because people employee engagement is understood as a critical part of business strategy –  if we look after our people together, they will look after our business and clients.

In pursuit of Mastery

After a period of managing projects for internal transformation including a HQ relocation establishing new workplace design and facilities management, Michelle finished her 18 year career with the same company.

Thriving on a sabbatical and two years of endless summers travelling around the globe while studying she found herself resettling at her original home and reconnecting with family and friends in Western Australia.

Michelle on her sabbatical enjoying her 'endless summer' with a trip to Central Perk from the TV series 'Friends' at Warner Bros Studios

Michelle on her sabbatical enjoying her ‘endless summer’ with a trip to Central Perk from the TV series ‘Friends’ at Warner Bros Studios

Perth has grown up while I’ve been away. Perth now has a world view – the city feels more global, which is exciting for Western Australia, and for business here.

An Executive MBA gave Michelle a precious opportunity to turn the spotlight on herself. She employed the strategic tools she had used for others, to reflect upon her own strengths, weaknesses, and goals – and gain further, valuable insight into what motivates and drives her at work.

Celebrating her Executive MBA Graduation with her parents

Celebrating her Executive MBA Graduation with her parents

What remains clear to Michelle is the buzz she gets out of a strong workplace culture and facilitating the development of others, being the person in their corner encouraging them to reach their potential.

In 2021 Michelle will turn the spotlight on the learning and development of leaders and technical experts at BrewHub; the valets, the service technicians, and the distribution teams. Whilst delivery of these services differs across Australia, they are all, critical, customer facing roles which impact upon BrewHub’s reputation and shape our customer experience.

BrewHub Valets chatting and laughing outside of cafe

‘Mastery’ for each service team includes an appreciation of the roles, goals, and constraints unique to other teams, so building knowledge, communication and connection between the BrewHub teams is high on Michelle’s agenda. Developing employees not only promotes the best out of them in their current role, but understanding their aspirations ensure BrewHub can help them achieve it.’

Opportunities often arise internally and if we truly know our employees and develop a system that captures and understands their strengths, their internal drivers and interests, then we are in an ideal position to enhance our talent and grow our business through our people.

BrewHub warehouse team sorting stock for delivery

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