Wayne Bryant could never have imagined where his career would take him after starting as a delivery driver at automative engineering and parts company Repco more than 25 years ago.
From humble beginnings behind the wheel, he has worked his way up the ladder and now drives business success and performance as Executive General Manager of Sales and Operations, overseeing nearly 350 stores instead of a truck full of spares.
While he attributes the early success in his career to ambition and a supportive leadership, he readily concedes an MBA was the major driver of his jump into the very upper echelons of the company.
“Throughout my time at Repco I’ve had the benefit of really supportive leadership,” he said. “Particularly early on, I had a State Manager who was good at spotting talented people and making sure they get the right exposure and development opportunities through different roles in the business.”
While he had completed a variety of professional and executive development courses over the years, it was an honest discussion a number of years ago with his Managing Director that inspired Wayne to take his learning to the next level.
“A few years ago, my Managing Director and I were discussing my career and he was of the opinion that in order for me to progress into the senior leadership team, I’d need to broaden my horizons and at least undertake a Graduate Diploma,” he said.
“So I undertook the Grad Dip through AIM as they were able offer me the flexibility I required in my role, to complete a course of this kind, and balance my role responsibilities. After completing the Grad Dip, I immediately enrolled in the AIM MBA which was a really key phase of my career.”
Having now completed the MBA he is putting the theory into practice and applying his learning to the company’s strategic imperatives.
“From a practical perspective, it really was a terrific program as it’s broadened my horizons and it’s given me access to resources for my leadership toolkit,” he said.
“When you’re confronted with challenges or you’re thinking about different strategic options for your business, it’s useful to reflect on the MBA learnings and material to enhance the decision making framework.
His team has also benefitted from his MBA, with Wayne more than happy to pass the knowledge he has accumulated to his team to aid with their personal development plans and tackle the many challenges facing their industry.
“The automotive aftermarket (parts, chemicals, equipment, and accessories, after the sale of the automobile) is quite a resilient industry and the major businesses that operate within that segment are doing well in their respective fields,” he said.
“At a macro level, there are some challenges that the industry faces which is making life more challenging for the aftermarket.
“One challenge stems from the sheer number of the volume of car marques, permutations and combinations of vehicles on the road in Australia.
“Globally, there are around 118 marques available and in Australia around 65 marques on road. If you compare that to the US, they have considerably less makes of car to choose from with 12 times the population.”
While this massive level of choice benefits consumers , for a parts business it means operating on a much larger scale and having the balance sheet strength to be able to provide all of the different parts combinations to service trade repairers in a fast and responsive time frame.
“That means you need to manage your inventory well and ensure you have enough stores closer to customers to be able to leverage the inventory investment,” he said.