Madelyn Ring is the woman changing the beer industry in Australia as an integral part of the Carlton & United Breweries Leadership team at the most senior level. Madelyn solves problems through harnessing diversity, mastering new techniques and applied thinking to drive results.
Madelyn provides leadership at the iconic company in her role as VP of People.
Question: Can you tell us about your role as part of the Carlton & United Breweries Leadership team?
Madelyn Ring: My role is VP of People at Carlton & United Breweries, which is a challenging and diverse role that I love. CUB is the most iconic beer company in Australia with brands such as Victoria Bitter, Carlton Draught, Great Northern, the Yaks and Pure Blonde. We also produce ciders such as Pure Blonde Organic Cider and Mercury Hard Cider and have some of the country's leading craft beers brands - 4 Pines, Pirate Life and Balter.
We have also sold two million Lexington Hill cocktails as of last month. My favourite is Lexington Hill Margarita.
I have two roles on the Leadership Team. The first is a collective role that we all play which is to develop the strategy for CUB and make decisions aligned to that strategy. The second role I play is on behalf of the People team which is to build critical capabilities and an inclusive and innovative culture that will achieve our strategy. We deliver this through our leaders to attract, develop and retain talented people.
Question: How have you changed the perception of women in the workforce at Carlton & United Breweries?
Madelyn Ring: It's no secret that brewing has traditionally been a male-dominated industry. But senior female representation at Carlton & United Breweries has grown from 23% at the start of 2018 to more than 30% now. Perceptions are changing because of the female role models we now have in our business. Women are doing amazing things here. One example is Anita Holdsworth, who manages the Cascade brewery in Hobart, one of our three major breweries.
Anita is the first female brewery manager in CUB's history and oversees a workforce of 55 people. She leads by example and can usually be found inspecting the floor or overseeing the production line at the iconic brewery, which dates back to 1832, ensuring that two million litres of beer each month are brewed, packaged and dispatched in a timely way.
Kellie Barnes is our VP Solutions and Business Transformation and has had a cross functional career spanning Technology, Trade Marketing and Sales. She was the first ever Regional Sales Director in Victoria and is now leading our strategic transformation.
Anita and Kellie are just two of many women who are inspiring future female leaders to stay and join Carlton & United Breweries. In 2019, we had 5,700 applicants to our grad programs, up from 4,700 the previous year. And last year's intake was 42% female, up from 35% the previous year. Also that year, The Australian Financial Review named CUB as one of the leading Consumer Goods choices for grads. Internal survey results relating to Diversity and Inclusion are also higher than industry benchmarks.
Women have an exciting future in our business. I look forward to continuing to work hard to attract them to this amazing industry so that they can have a rewarding career and make a tangible difference.
Question: What is involved in creating a successful team of people specifically at Carlton & United Breweries?
Madelyn Ring: A business is only as good as the people in it. We are lucky that we have amazing brands, great people and work in a fun industry that creates pride and passion in our people. We support our people by providing stretch opportunities, flexible working and by encouraging diversity and inclusion. More than ever before our people are moving cross functionally, working on projects and being promoted faster. We also have Graduate Management Trainee and emerging leader programs that are building future ready leaders.
We provide our people with opportunities to work how, where and when people want. Through our HowIwork policy. We also provide lifestyle and sabbatical leave.
We aim to have an inclusive and innovative culture – one that embraces everyone for who they are and uses our diversity to generate new ideas. One of the ways we do this is through celebrating diversity. We have an active Diversity & Inclusion Committee that recommends what we should do to support diversity and inclusion. This has led to Yak Ales sponsoring Mardi Gras, mentoring and networking for women and our award-winning virtual reality 'inclusive leadership@CUB' program.
We still have things to work on. To enable greater innovation our people have told us we need to improve how we work to give them more time to collaborate. This year we are focused on fixing the basics so our people can do meaningful work rather than unnecessary bureaucracy and process.
Question: What's a typical day like as VP of People?
Madelyn Ring: In one word – variety. I'm really lucky because what gets me out of bed in the morning is seeing people, teams and organisations reaching beyond their potential. A lot of what I work on every day helps to achieve this. I could start the day discussing policies or practices we need to put in place to create a better working environment, spending time with our Management Trainees to give them context about our business or coaching others to support their development.
It can be a challenging role so I like to build my resilience. I do that by eating healthy, spending time with family and friends and getting enough sleep. It's also about having goals outside of work – I'm a swimmer and compete in Masters swimming. My goal is to improve my times so I swim in a squad, improve my technique and go to the gym to build my strength.
Question: What's been the biggest lesson you've learnt during your time at Carlton & United Breweries?
Madelyn Ring: Leadership creates culture. The decisions leaders make and the behaviours they demonstrate sets the tone for our culture. I see it in the feedback we get from our people everyday. So to create the culture we want and need to deliver on our strategy the alignment of the leaders is critical.
Question: How does it feel to be described as "the woman changing the beer industry in Australia"?
Madelyn Ring: Mmmm - I certainly won't claim that title, but I have the privilege to have an amazing People Team as well as the broader team across CUB who want to and are making a difference everyday they come work. A good example of this is that last year we were named one of Australia's most innovative manufacturing and consumer goods companies by the Australian Financial Review's Boss magazine.
I'm also lucky enough to be part of the Drinks Association Embrace Difference Council where I work with volunteers from across our industry to improve diversity and inclusion in all of our organisations. What excites me is the passion that each of the volunteers as well as the Drinks Association Board has to help change our industry to embrace everyone for who they are.
Question: What's next for you and Carlton & United Breweries?
Madelyn Ring: What's next is continuing to build future capabilities and an innovative and inclusive culture. Our employees expectations are changing – they expect more from their workplaces – they want them to be inclusive and offer flexibility and meaningful work. The nature of work is also changing with the rapid growth in automation and AI and we need to prepare our teams for those changes.
Our innovation agenda has helped us create market-leading products that have responded to consumer demands for more opportunities to moderate. This includes the first non-alcoholic beer in our 180-year history, Carlton Zero, and Great Northern Super Crisp, a mid-strength beer that has become one of the most popular beers in the country despite only launching in 2015.
To keep up with our consumers and customers we need to be faster at responding and this will mean working differently and reallocating resources to areas of growth.
I'm really excited about our strategy and the part our People team will play in delivering on it.
Interview by Brooke Hunter