Melissa Abbott General manager of Skretting Australia
“Every day, I encourage my team members to be better versions of themselves than the day before.”
It doesn’t often happen that a financial controller ends up as a general manager, but Melissa Abbot made it happen. For her, it’s the ultimate confirmation that a career at Skretting is unpredictable and untraditional, and therefore challenging and exciting.
Why did you choose a career at Skretting?
‘I was working as a financial controller for a large hotel chain and not really looking for a new job when a recruiter reached out to me. I wanted to be polite, so I just accepted the invitation. When entering the Skretting office in Cambridge, Tasmania, I was immediately drawn to letters on the wall saying FEEDING THE FUTURE. The more I asked during the interview, the more questions I had. It spoke to me to be part of a movement creating safe and sustainable food sources for generations to come, to be part of something much bigger than us. Feeding the future is a worthy reason to get out of bed every day.’
Did you always want to be a manager?
‘No, I didn’t! Just as I didn’t plan on taking on the role of supply chain manager, a position I also thoroughly enjoyed holding for a few years. Working at Skretting often means encountering ‘sliding doors’ moments. It’s best that you just be bold and brave and take the chance whenever you get one. A few years ago, our general manager decided to step down, and I was given a chance to take over the reins. I am humbled yet passionately driven to have the opportunity of leading the team here to achieve our ambition to be digitally enabled, farm-focused solution providers to the Australian and New Zealand aquaculture industries.’
“Managing means moving forward, but also standing still to celebrate what you’ve achieved.”
What are your biggest challenges as a general manager?
‘On the one hand, my biggest challenges as a general manager are strategic. How do we expand our production capacity? How do we retain our market leadership and our reputation as a trusted client advisor? And how do we achieve our digital ambitions? On the other hand, my focus lies on my team. How can I further empower, inspire and motivate them? And how can I support them when facing their daily challenges? My people are a clever, curious, and caring bunch who together make up an incredible team.’
How do you experience being a female leader within Skretting?
‘I had only ever worked for male leaders before I became a general manager. So, the first thing that came to my mind when I thought of successful leadership was to follow in their footsteps. It took me very little time to discover that a non-authentic way of leading wasn’t the way to go. I had to be more myself to be able to thrive, that is, more vulnerable and open. I’m not only an ambitious manager but also a daughter, wife, and mother. I can’t be everywhere all the time. Does that mean I’m doing less of a job? No, only more efficient and balanced. At a meeting, I told my leadership team that I need to be a mom and collect my kids from school every Monday afternoon. A week later, one of my male colleagues stated that he needs to be a dad on Wednesday mornings for school drop off too! It’s so important to know and acknowledge that we don’t have to fly solo; we’re in this together.’
What do you think is unique about Skretting as an employee?
‘Being part of Skretting is like being part of a family. Some people stay for two years, some for twenty. Fun, lots of freedom, and endless possibilities unite us. But also the urge to be a better version of yourself every day and to make Skretting better than you found it. Working at Skretting challenges me, whatever turn I take.’
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