It's no secret that 2020 was a year like no other. To mark International Women's Day 2021, DCC caught up with some of the impressive women in its network of Women in STEM, to ask them about the past 12 months, and the lessons and insights they have gained in the face of the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. Across this month, we will be sharing some of their responses with you.
"We have a rigorous disaster management plan in place, which we utilised during the lockdown, and have stepped up targeted comms to our team and our customers. We also provided hundreds of care packages, especially for locked-down aged care homes. During a crisis, doing something tangible helps lift spirits, and the packages were a great help to the homes and their residents." – Bernadette Eriksen, CEO of Flavour Creations
Bernadette Eriksen is the founder and CEO of Flavour Creations, a specialist food and drink manufacturer that improves the lives of people suffering from dysphagia (meaning that they have pain or are unable to swallow). It does this by creating great tasting food and drink solutions that offer maximum nutritional density and choice. Bernadette was one of the speakers at DCC's 2018 International Women's day panel discussion held in Brisbane. Her responses to our questions are set out below.
1. Your work as a food and drink manufacturer for sufferers of dysphagia has been life-changing for many. Have you encountered any challenges over the past 12 months in being able to supply your products to hospitals and aged care facilities?
In January 2020, we began expanding our finished products stock holding from 6–8 weeks to 12 weeks in anticipation of COVID-19 becoming a pandemic. We also increased orders for all imported raw materials to prevent stock shortages. Transport has been slow, as has been the case across most industries, fortunately our customers have stocked up and remained patient.
2. How has your business evolved over the past 12 months?
We have moved from using thin-client computers to laptops in order to accommodate team members working from home. The upside of COVID is greater flexibility – many of our staff are now willing to work from remote locations, when, previously, many wouldn't. I have always been a big advocate for at least one day per week of remote work – it increases productivity, and cutting out travel time is a huge win for our team members.
3. What lessons from the pandemic do you plan to take into the future (post-pandemic) world?
We have a rigorous disaster management plan in place, which we utilised during the lockdown, and have stepped up targeted comms to our team and our customers. We also provided hundreds of care packages, especially for locked-down aged care homes. During a crisis, doing something tangible helps lift spirits, and the packages were a great help to the homes and their residents.
4. Have you found that existing ties/relationships have withstood the changes to communication and the availability of in person interactions?
The circumstances of the past year have actually enhanced certain relationships – people have had a chance to stop, pause, and reflect on what is really important. Last month, we conducted an independent Customer Satisfaction Survey, which found Flavour Creations has an overall relationship score of 8.2 out of 10, and an 8.4 out of 10 for understanding customer needs. When crises like pandemics occur, companies that provide good communication and customer support really stand out – it's gratifying our clients feel that way about us.
5. On a more personal note, is there anything you discovered or re-discovered over the last year that gave you joy or a sense of calm in what may otherwise have been quite unsettling times?
I travel a lot for work, so being forced to stop and stay at home has been simply wonderful, however I'm ready to get moving again! I landed back in Australia on 2 March 2020, and jumped straight into action mode to make sure the team was safe and our customers had their needs met. The early months of the pandemic were the busiest months we'd had for years. While, at times, the devastation of the pandemic globally was terrifying – I have a son who lives in New York City – seeing so many people come together to support each other would often bring tears to my eyes. It was incredibly heart-warming.
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