Business as usual for SA - with new staff member on board

Hiring a new staff member can be challenging at the best of times. But imagine trying to do with in the middle of a global pandemic?

With several major defence projects on the go, ICN SA wasn’t going to let COVID-19 get in the way of hiring a new Supply Chain Manager, Defence.

“Social distancing was being implemented – which meant no shaking of candidate’s hands, 1.5 metres distance between interviewees and every panel member, and some interviewees were interviewed online as their organisations had banned all face-to-face meetings at third party sites,” Manager Supply Chain Development, Bettina Venner said, welcoming Ariane Lopes into the role.

Apart from the logistics of onboarding a new staff member while restrictions are in place, ICN SA is providing “businesses as usual” services to South Australian SMEs, while all staff are working from home.

“We haven’t really seen a change to ICN services,” Bettina said, “If anything, it’s been busier.”

“We’ve been pleased to see a number of projects are proceeding as planned but works on the ground may be impacted due to social distancing measures. 

“Proponents and suppliers alike have implemented procedures and guidelines to work safely and effectively in the current climate.”

ICN SA is embedded within the South Australian Government, which is providing funding and other support to businesses. For example, the Department for Energy and Mining is helping with FIFO arrangements with the closure of state borders.  The State Government has also released a $1bn stimulus package for businesses.

A number of SA businesses have pivoted to meet demand, including packaging manufacturer Detmold now producing face masks. Meanwhile, beverage company Bickfords is making hand sanitiser and both Axiom and Andrew Rogers Industrial Design manufacturing face shields.

ICN SA consultants are managing a large workload while making sure they stay physically and mentally well.

“We have a virtual team meeting every morning, which has been a good way to stay connected, effectively manage workloads across the team and support each other,” Bettina said.

“There is no significant change from a client perspective. Most of our communication traditionally has been by email and phone, with occasional face-to-face meetings.

“Now of course we don’t have face to face meetings, as these have been replaced with virtual online meetings, with no change to email and phone contact.

“We have also had some virtual site visits with companies taking us on a tour of their facilities via their phone or laptop.”

During the restrictions, the SA office has moved a number of networking and information sessions online.

“There seem to be many online webinars, online meetings, online workshops and so and people may be ‘zoomed out’, Bettina said.

“Nevertheless, the reduction in travel time and the ability to view webinars later may be an advantage. However, we are missing out on the networking time before and after events.”

About 50 people attended an online ‘pitching for success’ webinar to prepare companies providing online pitches to the LAND 400 Phase 3 project team.

“This was almost everyone that was pitching – and those that couldn’t attend, were able to view the webinar later," Bettina said.

“It was interesting to see that shortlisted bidders Hanwha and Rheinmetall had attendees from both Australia and their home countries of South Korea and Germany. The time zones took this into account, with pitching sessions only in the afternoon, which was still very early for Germany.

“We are also delivering online profile improvement and EOI workshops and have seen strong levels of registrations.”

With South Australia having a low rate of community transmission of COVID-19, and no active cases at the time of writing, ICN SA can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

“We continue to monitor the situation, adapting as necessary. We’re in this together and plan to emerge stronger on the other side,” Bettina said.