Recently appointed acting Coles Liquor Director Cathi Scarce was guest speaker at a Women in Drinks Victorian Chapter event this week.
Her speech was equal parts hilarious and inspirational. Scarce is a 25-year veteran of Coles - she started out managing the deli at Coles in Manly, but the intervening years have seen her progress steadily through every level of management to her current role.
She notes: "My story shows that without risk there is no reward. That being resilient is key in any industry if you are in that industry for the long haul. That being bold in your decision making while scary is part of the journey. And say yes to opportunity ... you can work out the details when you get there!"
When Scarce was appointed General Manager of National Operations for Coles Liquor almost three years ago, she admits: "I didn't know anything about liquor. I was bananas and batteries. But it excited me.
"I decided I’d figure it out when I got there. I think we undo more of our own potential by not taking leaps of faith, but when you get there, you have to be smart and surround yourself with cheerleaders to help you through while you find your feet."
She went on to manage a team of approximately 6000 employees across a business that includes First Choice, Vintage Cellars and Liquorland stores.
Scarce is passionate about selling and passionate about people. She visits stores, meets the teams, and drives initiatives to constantly improve operations and drive liquor sales.
"It's fast paced, fun, and always changing as the market changes," she explains. "Retail is a constant learning curve.'
The importance of driving diversity
Scarce believes women bring important diversity of thought to the retail industry, along with perspectives that are more representative of the customers served. They are willing to seek different solutions to retail issues, supporting a more flexible approach to management.
"In terms of careers, there is a wonderful sense of community and support among women in retail that is very rewarding and inspiring to be a part of," she says. "There's a role that suits everyone regardless of what phase of life they are in, from starting a career to raising a family to empty nesters."
Scarce is also member of the Coles Inclusion Steering Committee, Chair of the Gender Balance Working Group at Coles and a member of The Drinks Association's Diversity & Inclusion Council.
Her address to Victoria's Women in Drinks, held at Treasury Wines Estates in South Bank, was incredibly well received by guests.
Among the feedback received by councillors:
“What a morning… I barely blinked the entire time she was talking!”
“What a woman and what a journey – truly inspirational.”
“Think I was in awe. Will be hard to trump that event – well done team!”
“I want to work for her!”
Here are some photos from the event: