Celebrating Women in the Workforce: Robyn Longford

March 8th marked International Women’s Day and its powerful theme for the year, Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress. This theme aligns with Workwear Group’s (WWG) commitment to invest in our people, with particular importance on empowering and advancing the women in our organisation.

An image of Robyn Longford

In early 2023, Workwear Group reset its Senior Leadership Team (SLT) structure to align our growth plans and the significance of our technology and digital roadmap. Gender balance was a driver in both the organisation design and in the sourcing of potential candidates for open vacancies. Of 3 vacancies, 2 were filled by female talent, including 1 promotion from within WWG and an internal transfer from another Wesfarmers division: Robyn Longford who joined us from Officeworks and is now WWG’s Chief Financial Officer. 

Almost a year into her role, Robyn shares how she’s tackling the challenges and opportunities at WWG, plus lessons she’s learned from her career to date. 

What is your current role at WWG?  

I am the Chief Financial Officer (CFO); a key part of my role is to partner with the business and support WWG’s strategic growth agenda. 

Are there any parts of your role that you are particularly passionate about?  

I am passionate about growing our business profitably so we can re-invest into areas that make a difference such as People, Sustainability, and Innovation. I also like to have fun along the way. 

What were your career aspirations growing up?  

Growing up I admired Jana Wendt from 60 Minutes and aspired to be a journalist, which was my first field of study at university before I switched to accounting. During my childhood, my parents owned and operated a business, which meant discussing business (like the pros and cons of compulsory superannuation) were regular dinner table conversations. Switching to business seemed to make sense for me.  

What was your first job? 

I took a role as a Tax Clerk working for a Taxation and Insolvency practice in Adelaide. It was full of young graduates and so the social atmosphere was great – mostly I remember having a good time at the pub! I knew early on though that Tax & Insolvency was not the industry for me.  

Can you tell us about the roles that you’ve undertaken that you think have led to your position here at WWG?  

My journey has not been linear, but each role has been intentional, and I’ve learned from each one. Working in Insolvency showed me the impact of insolvent businesses on people’s lives; Private Equity gave me a front row seat to the investor mindset; and my career break as a barista in a cafe enabled me to grow my people and customer service skills. 

Operational roles at JB Hi-Fi showed me the value in agile decision-making when you haven’t crossed all the T’s, and that the main driver of performance is culture and aligned values.  My roles at Officeworks for the last eight years indoctrinated me to the Wesfarmers way (renowned for excellent business and investment principles) and exposed me to acquisitions, problem solving, and leading both large and small teams through change. Being part of Wesfarmers has been a highlight thus far and has certainly helped lead me here – one of the many benefits of being part of the Wesfarmers Group. 

If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?  

  1. Think bigger than a briefcase!  
  2. If you must choose between your brain or your gut, follow your gut. 
  3. Be okay with your mistakes. Your biggest learnings may lead to surprising outcomes that exceed your expectations.
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