In 2016, Australian retailer Ben Mackenzie left a successful carpentry business to pursue a more innovative career in product design and tech. Fast-forward seven years, he is now head of customer growth at Wesfarmers, the parent company of some of Australia’s biggest retail businesses, including Bunnings, Officeworks, Kmart, Target and Catch, and was named as one of this year’s Rising Stars of Retail. Here, he shares what motivates him, and his biggest role models. Inside Retail: Can
etail: Can you share some of the proudest moments of your career so far? Ben Mackenzie: When we launched OnePass on Kmart, Target and Catch.com.au, it took us over a year to prepare. However, when we finally got our first customer, it was incredibly rewarding. Within just five minutes of launching, we welcomed our first members and it was a great accomplishment for me personally and in my career. Before I found retail, I worked as the creative lead at Rowboat, which is a design agency in Melbourne. We did a lot of big design projects for companies and sports organisations. One project I am particularly proud of is a three-day design workshop we did for Cricket Australia called ‘Girl Jam’. The goal of this workshop was to help Cricket Australia engage more with young girls and their parents. During the workshop, we trained 25 people in design tools, brought a remote team together, and created useful tools and insights that ended up improving the experience for many young girls across Australia. IR: What are some of your long-term career goals? Always jump on interesting opportunities when they come up. Be someone that brings emerging technology and thinking into the workplace. Always be asking what the 10-year vision for this looks like. Make design-thinking a part of everyone’s day. Build products that have a positive impact on Aussie life. Set an example for where young design-thinkers can end up if they try. IR: Can you discuss a few people who have had a significant impact on your career? BM: Bec Lloyd, founder of Rowboat. An old boss, mentor and now great friend that took a chance on me and never said no to a crazy idea that I had. This freedom allowed me to grow confident in creative and business skills at a rapid pace while we worked with high-profile clients. Bec also taught me the magical power of facilitation, which continues to be a skill that I use every day. David Pisker, GM of Geeks2U. An honest, innovative thinker and leader that taught me how to navigate the retail industry. Being able to observe how Dave connected the dots on consumer behaviour, technology, marketplaces and corporate retail was the apprenticeship I needed in retail. Nicole Sheffield, MD of OneDigital. For showing myself and our entire business how to keep your glass half-full while managing the ambiguity, roadblocks and challenges of starting a new division from scratch. IR: What do you consider your biggest career achievements to be, and where do you see yourself in five years’ time? BM: That’s a hard question to answer as career-hopping millennial, but… Making the move from being a carpenter wearing a toolbelt to CX Manager at OnePass within in seven years. Launching OnePass. Building and leading a 15-person design team at OnePass. Fostering a culture of collaboration across Wesfarmers. In five years, I want to be leading a team that improves the lives of Aussies every day of the week. IR: What do you love most about working in the retail industry? BM: It’s fast-paced which is my preferred gear to be in, and at Wesfarmers, you always have the opportunity to challenge yourself and your team to be better for the millions of people who walk through our doors or URLs every week.