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You don’t need to be an accountant to make sense of the bottom line!

By Diane Utatao
Director – D&I Consulting Services Pty Ltd
Member, NAWO NSW State Committee

Tooheys Tour 27 April 2016

Our first NAWO NSW Quick Bites event held on Wednesday 27 April 2016, was focussed on our learning priority of Corporate and Commercial Literacy*.  Although this is an important topic it is often viewed as a rather ‘dry’ subject – so we were thrilled to be generously hosted by Tooheys which was a huge drawcard for our members!

To the envy of many a beer lover and all manufacturing enthusiasts, we were delighted to be taken for a tour of the Tooheys brewery.  Over the course of an hour we saw how the raw materials were mashed, whirled and fermented using the yeast that is cultivated to perfection in the bright new storage tanks all the way to filtering to their state of the art bottling lines.  It was incredible to see how everything just worked automatically and how little manual handling was required. We were also taken on a journey of the different beer brands and how they have evolved over the years and the history of the family behind the Tooheys sites.

Fast Facts about Tooheys:

Tooheys_350pxTooheys is part of a larger network of breweries

  • NSW – Tooheys & Malt Shovel Brewery
  • QLD – XXXX Brewery
  • SA – West End Brewery
  • TAS – Boags Brewery
  • VIC & WA – Little Creatures

The parent company is Lion (owned by Kirin), which is split across 3 businesses:

  • Beer, Cider, Wine AustraliaLion_250px
  • Lion Dairy & Drinks
  • Beer, Spirts & Wine NZ


  • Capacity – 380 million litres
  • FTE – 199
  • Operate Mon-Fri on 3 shift rotating roster
  • Engagement is very high (currently 91%)
  • Focus is on Our People and Our Brands
  • Culture is aligned to lean manufacturing
Melissa_Insa_Wendy_Melinda presenting

From left: Melissa, Insa, Wendy, Melinda


Following the tour we were joined by two financially savvy speakers from Lion –  Wendy Cheung, Commercial Manager, Logistics and Melinda Xuereb-Brook, Management Reporting Leader who shared their career insights on building commercial acumen, from a  Finance perspective.

Wendy and Melinda were then joined on the panel by Insa Errey – Utilities Improvement Engineer, Lion and Melissa Aistrope – Technical Brewer, Lion, for an engaging and practical discussion on how to collaborate with your Finance team to help you deliver more cost effective performance for your business.

 Take-outs from the presentations and panel conversation:

  • Navigating the commercial world means managing costs and resources, mitigating any risk to costs and resources and understanding how you fit in the overall picture – it’s all about innovation.
  • Commercial Acumen is how the different parts of the business work together and stepping back to see how the decisions you make impact the business.
  • CA is an important skill for everyone in the organization. “The most commercially savvy person I know is not an Accountant – they are a planner and scheduler”
  • People on the ground, close to the business are more likely to come up with the initiatives – not finance, because they see things in action. The wastage, the inefficiency and a better way of doing things.  This is called ‘Value Creation’
  • Be curious and ask questions – what drives value in the area you work in?
  • Leverage your Finance Partners – they are not scary; they are on your team. You are helping Finance too when you build your Commercial Acumen.
  • It’s about knowing ‘enough’ to have the right conversations.
  • Learn about other parts of the business and their drivers
  • Find a mentor with good commercial acumen
  • It’s a journey – take little steps and start in your own area. Find out what drives cost or value in your area?
  • Get out of your comfort zone and get uncomfortable because that’s how you will learn and grow
  • Talk to a lot of people from different parts of the business to help you make the right decisions
  • Created a ‘How to’ reporting pack for managers – what does budget look like, revenue, what levers to pull to increase profit
  • Introduced Commercial Acumen Courses emphasizing Finance as partners with the business. Giving managers the power to understand their Cost Centre so no surprises at month-end
  • People learn differently – adapted training to suit the individual eg. 1 on 1, Visual management such as graphs and use of colour (green good red bad)
  • Value Creation Process – now part of the annual planning process and do it every year.   Finance work with Operations to see if anything can be done to impact the business – all ideas, think outside the square and how it may impact the bottom line.
  • Speak up – use the Finance team and share your knowledge
  • Stop thinking just about yourself! Sitting in your silo you forget about others and the impact of what you do affects them.

Example of Value Creation

The logistics team came up with an idea to increase the number of cartons per pallet. The company is charged by the pallet.  By increasing the number of cartons per pallet they leveraged $1 million in value creation in one year.



From the left: Wendy, Melinda, Melissa and Insa

According to the feedback our members had a fantastic morning which was topped off with a beautiful BBQ lunch provided by Tooheys.  We would like to thank our guest speakers from Tooheys and a special mention for Christine Carew from Tooheys who organised the logistics to make the morning run so smoothly.





*NAWO’s research found there are key areas where female leaders benefit from additional insight and learning. Therefore all of our events and programs are built around five key learning priorities:

  • Authentic leadership
  • Career management
  • Commercial literacy
  • Negotiation & influencing
  • Personal confidence & courage

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