From an early age wandering through shopping centres with his mum, Mr Warren was fascinated by good branding. The allure of
a dynamic, fast-paced industry which touches Australian families led him to target the food business once he graduated university.
“I naturally gravitated to the food industry,” he told Leader.
“I was fortunate I was able to work with really great companies like Unilever, George Weston Foods and Simplot. I had an
amazing grounding as a sales rep and then developed my career through to managing major accounts. Ultimately, I was managing salespeople, developing their skills and hopefully contributing to their success in the industry as well.”
When the opportunity came up to join Foodbank, Mr Warren said it was a “pretty natural fit” combining his work experience and his personal values.
“I commenced at Foodbank in a marketing and communications role, which gave me the opportunity to learn new skills and take my career in a new direction,” he said. “I was writing media releases, annual reports and newsletters, launching social media and staging events.
“Most importantly, I was helping to build the brand, which was something I really enjoyed.
It was a role which hadn’t previously existed at Foodbank, and I suppose it was the beginning of putting the charity on the map and into the hearts and minds of people in Western Australia.”
During almost a decade at Foodbank, Mr Warren has been instrumental in initiatives
such as the introduction of the Employee Assistance Program, developing a holistic code of conduct and building the corporate volunteer program into a thriving entity.
He said his current human resources management position, and the organisation as a whole, had a distinct focus on culture.
“I think it’s probably the most important thing I can do in my role,” he said.
“It’s an ongoing focus to make sure you not only build a good culture in your organisation, but also maintain and develop it.”
Providing support, direction and leadership is part of Mr Warren’s day-to-day, but he doesn’t call himself a leader.
“I think that's for other people to judge,” he said.
“From my perspective, if I demonstrate the organisation’s values, those are also the values you hope everybody else will follow because your actions set the expectation,” he said.
“I’m not necessarily for slogans – I think life is a little more organic than that – but one mantra I love in particular is, ‘if you don’t let people make decisions, how do you know what they’re thinking?’.
“I think empowering people to make decisions is a great way to demonstrate the mood and culture of your organisation, and it gives your people the opportunity to grow.”
Having worked in industries which are constantly evolving, Mr Warren said success demanded leaders were constantly engaged.
“Things change all the time – your products, your seasons, your people, the strategies of your competitors – and you have to always be on your toes,” he said.
“I’ve had multiple roles in multiple industries and I am not sure there is a typical day. Even as a Human Resources Manager at Foodbank I am constantly dealing with new challenges and drawing upon the learnings of many different life and work experiences.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mr Warren cites the people he’s worked with over the years as some of the highlights of his career.
“Throughout my work life, I’ve been very lucky to work with fantastic teams,” he said. “I started my career working with motivated multi-national sales teams, and today I go to work with amazing, professional people who are passionately committed to helping improve the lives of families in need here in WA.”
Mr Warren said being an agent of significant change is what he found most rewarding.
“I have this philosophy that you should leave an organisation better than you found it, and you should also be better for having worked there,” he said.
“When it is time to go your separate ways both parties should be able to reflect positively on their time together.”
Mr Warren said aligning your values and maintaining your enthusiasm to continually learn and grow was essential to career satisfaction.
“I have learned so much at Foodbank, and the organisation really resonates with my values,” he said.
“Anyone can find themselves in need throughout their life, and Foodbank provides for those basic needs to help them get back up on their feet.”