Raised in North Auckland among the beaches of Orewa, Jacqui Smith grew up in the world of grocery with her Mother working as 2IC of Countdown Orewa and her Father working as an owner/operator of FourSquare Buffalo Beach.

Smith was first introduced to the hustle and bustle of the grocery industry by her mother, who was a 2IC at Countdown Orewa. Growing up, she spent spent most of her time in store with the staff acting as her second family and being the go-to elf at Christmas time assisting Santa with handing out treats to the customers. Going into her teens, Smith’s first job was working in Buffalo Beach FourSquare during her school breaks.

Smith completed a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Information Systems and e-Commerce at Victoria University of Wellington. “It was a natural progression to move into the supermarket industry to apply my understanding and on-site knowledge with what I had learnt at University,” said Smith.

In 2015, Smith was successfully admitted into the Woolworths Graduate Programme and moved to Sydney to begin her journey with the Woolworths Group.

In January 2017, Smith was able to land the permanent role of Enterprise Project Manager and Delivery Lead of the SAP Enhancements Program.

“It was an exciting challenge,” said Smith, “I was given the opportunity and autonomy to reinvent the process of a $15m continuous improvement project while also taking on various Woolworths Enterprise IT projects.”

By 2018, Smith was able to increase throughput and efficiency by 300% as well as reducing costs. “Year on year we were able to reduce the budget to where it currently stands at $4m while maintaining quality and throughput.”

When asked where Smith gets her work ethic and attitude, she says she is inspired by her mother. “She inspires me and motivates me that no obstacle is too hard and to be strong, especially in tough times. She is selfless and hard working, and always brings an abundance of joy to my life. Even on my worst days, her uplifting and cheeky demeanour always makes a difference,” said Smith.

Creating a loyal customer base and positive customer experience is important for Smith as a Delivery Lead; she takes steps to ensure that the customers are looked after, whether they are internal or external.

“Something I love about Countdown is that we talk to our customers before we even decide to do something. When the Countdown mobile app was just an idea, customers told us they wanted a shopping list on the app, not an online shopping platform. We’ve seen fantastic results as a result of the shift in direction.”

Smith has greatly enjoyed working with the Woolworths and Countdown teams throughout her journey. When asked how she motivates her team, Smith said “stay positive and bring a light-hearted demeanour when needed in order to facilitate a great work environment!"

I’m also passionate about self-managing teams and servant leadership as it can bring about greater motivation and show teams that they are in charge of their own destiny. Also creating a safe space where it’s ok to ‘fail’ - failure makes us dig deeper and find new ways to do things.” Smith hopes to continue to learn and grow so she can become a better leader for her team whilst keeping up to date with this fast paced industry.