Getting in contact with a business support programme with little knowledge about them can be daunting, and that’s why we’ve put together a series of interviews, where you can get to know our advisors and find out more about our programme and the process.
I’m Mel, the Marketing Officer for the Supply Chain Programme and throughout this series, I’ll be hosting in-conversation interviews with our advisors to bring you an informal and personable insight. We will discuss frequently asked questions, share examples and give you an understanding of what we do through short and sweet, bitesize information.
Our series begins with an in-conversation interview and 10 quick fire questions between myself and Supply Chain Programme advisor, Rob Woollin. You can check out our full team here.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself…
I have a degree in Physics & Metallurgy and worked for 25 years in a unique wool research & development, marketing, testing & branding organisation; I got to visit many countries but unfortunately, never got to NZ, which is the one place I wanted to get to. I have 14 years in business support working with SME manufacturers, having first spent time managing projects and played rugby union for 19 seasons & made 450+ first team appearances.
2. Can you explain the programme, in a nutshell?
The programme was designed to be the best SME manufacturing support programme available, taking into account the collective learning from various earlier programmes. At its heart is “listening to business needs” and then translating that into support in terms of grants, advice, contacts and introductions or direct time with one of our highly experienced advisors. The engagement process, although currently via virtual meetings, is managed in such a way that the company gets maximum benefit from minimal time input & if a grant is the outcome, we make the process as simple as possible from the perspective of the business owner.
3. What is 1 piece of advice you would give to business owners, that are unsure about contacting the programme?
Just get in-touch. We won’t try to sell you anything but we can add value to finding solutions to any business challenges; it won’t be wasted time.
4. Are there any FAQs by SMEs that you can discuss?
Many SMEs lack a strategy, they are not sure where they are trying to get to & don’t even have a simple plan for how to get there. Another major challenge is growing sales; many businesses are started by passionate & talented engineers who don’t know how to sell and who don’t understand the power of marketing and don’t know where to start. We also get a lot relating to supply chain issues in general, where we can discuss improving their supply chain management processes to reduce risks etc.
5. What would you say to businesses that are worried about having the time to work with us?
Allocate 30 minutes to talking to us. If you don’t see value, don’t take the discussion any further; we won’t be offended. Surely you can take 30 minutes out of your week to talk to us?
6. We recently did a piece of work with our client AUS, what was your involvement?
AUS approached us through a contact of mine. The contact was an ex-colleague & she put AUS in touch with me. I was involved in the initial meeting with AUS and then brought in 2 Academics who I felt had the skill set to best support them; they initially chose to work with one of them and eventually worked with both of them. Later on, I was able to support them directly by means of a “Supply Chain” programme grant.
7. Can you describe the relationship with AUS?
I see the relationship as an exemplar of what’s possible when an SME and a University work together; an oak tree grown from an acorn. The relationship started small and over 5 years has grown very significantly to the benefit of all parties, including the students given their first experience of work by AUS, or their first job by AUS. In talking to the MD of AUS, it turns out that we may have even played rugby against each other.
8. How have AUS benefitted from our support? Can you be more specific to our programme?
The Supply Chain Programme provided a grant to enable them to buy the specialist external support they needed; not just the type of support, but the amount of support, which enabled them to fully meet their needs. Our advisors also offer 12 hour free support!
9. This is a great example of the wide variety of support available from the Uni, can you touch on any other support areas?
AUS have had access to the full range of capability the University has to offer: Talented undergraduates and graduates, access to experienced, relevant, and commercially astute Academic staff and access to facilities which are normally unaffordable to SME manufacturers.
10. What’s the standard process for a business getting involved with the Uni / SCP?
If you’ve any other questions for us, please leave us a comment and we’ll get right back to you.