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Alcoa Australia

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Alexandra Hall

My job is satisfying because I have accountability for each step, and I am learning the whole process rather than handling just a part of it.

What's your job about?

Alcoa is a global leader in bauxite, alumina and aluminium products. Alcoa’s Australian operations commenced nearly six decades ago and include two bauxite mines and three alumina refineries in Western Australia and an aluminium smelter in Victoria.

My responsibilities as a Procurement graduate include supporting Western Australian mining and refining operations relative to procurement and supply chain management. During my first year of the graduate program I had three rotations within a materials delivery team.

My first role was with the Procurement Helpdesk where I assisted customers with enquiries about the different stages of the supply chain. Daily activities included responding to emails and phone enquiries, and resolving queries about delivery, payments, invoices and changes in purchase orders such as price, material, size, description and quantity. Technical knowledge in Oracle is essential.

My second role was in the Expediting team, working directly with suppliers and site planners to ensure goods were delivered on time for site maintenance jobs such as shutdowns and breakdowns. I enjoyed this role as it involved planning, using technical skills, communicating with stakeholders and was extremely dynamic. Following this I moved into the Contract Support team to help contract managers and suppliers undertake contract amendments.

I am currently in my second year in the Commodity Management team working on sourcing projects and learning about the strategic side of procurement. I am fortunate to experience a great variety of tasks and to attain valuable knowledge in supply chain and purchasing processes.

What's your background?

I was born and grew up in Kiev, Ukraine. During my childhood I attended a musical school to play piano and an art school in Petrykivka painting. I also enjoyed mathematics at school and then decided to pursue a career in finance.

I received a scholarship to the Ukrainian State University of Finance and International Trade where I completed a bachelor’s degree in Finance. While studying I became interested in understanding other non-financial aspects of business which led to me commencing a master’s degree in Commerce and Supply Chain.

In 2017 I commenced a Master of Commerce specialising in logistics management at the University of Western Australia (UWA). After my second semester, I completed a winter vacation internship with the UWA’s Deputy Vice Chancellor’s office. I then stayed on for a further six months to manage their community partnerships.

In 2018 I volunteered at the Pride Sports Festival as a Financial Controller and Grants Coordinator. While I held this role for two years, I also accepted an opportunity to join Artists Against Poverty (AAP) who create projects and campaigns to showcase local artists and donate raised funds to small Indonesian communities. I have been volunteering at AAP as the Finance Manager since January 2019.

I applied for my current position at Alcoa in March 2019 even though I wasn’t going to graduate from UWA until July 2019. I started full-time work with Alcoa in January 2020. 

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes, any commerce background, such as logistics and supply chain management, finance, accounting, economics, or law, could be applied to the role.   

Anyone with a project management or engineering background would also use a similar skillset as the role requires a methodological and logical approach.

Other characteristics of a good candidate include good communication and presentation skills, the ability to think strategically and have an analytical mind, attention to detail and the ability to prioritise. Multitasking skills are extremely valuable as is resilience for when demanding deadlines and workloads create added pressure.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

The coolest thing about my job is I get to lead all stages of the procurement process, from receiving a customer query to organising the delivery of an urgent item to site, low value contract execution, supplier negotiations, and strategic sourcing.

My job is satisfying because I have accountability for each step, and I am learning the whole process rather than handling just a part of it. I receive a lot of support and guidance from my colleagues on how to approach tasks and I value having these responsibilities as a graduate.

What are the limitations of your job?

Working in procurement is dynamic. Whether it is to execute a contract or an urgent delivery of a critical item to site, you need to be able to prioritise and work fast. There will always be more work than you can complete, therefore time management and planning are important skills. As are data analysis skills and having attention to detail.

Working for a global company, the time zone differences can be hard, and you may report to someone in another region who you haven’t met. This requires good communication skills and capacity to be available outside of regular working hours.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • Get as much experience as you can while studying. Use the university website, Volunteer Hub, to find opportunities. The more experience you have, the easier it will be to complete the interview process.
  • Use university resources such as Career Hub and interview and resume workshops to improve your chances in the recruitment process. Plan for possible interview questions about teamwork, diversity, leadership and safety. Then your answers will be top of mind when you are asked related questions.
  • Believe in yourself and don’t give up, all your efforts will pay off.