Have you ever thought about swapping jobs with someone else?


Two Fonterra employees did just that.

For Fonterra employees Julia Cavanagh and Paul Taylor, the idea for swapping jobs started out as a joke over a cup of coffee.

Paul says they were both talking about development and getting a greater breadth of experience within Fonterra Brands, which is the consumer arm of Fonterra’s business.

We kind of figured out together that we both wouldn’t mind doing each other’s jobs, so we thought why don’t we pitch it to the business?

Their managers agreed and Julia and Paul began their job swap in January.   

Julia took over Paul’s previous customer-facing role and became a Senior Key Account Manager for one of our major customers, while Paul took over Julia’s job, becoming the Category Manager for Cheese and Specialty Cheese sold in New Zealand, working closely with internal stakeholders.

Fonterra’s National Business Manager, John Day thought the job exchange was a great idea, and admired Julia and Paul for taking ownership of their own career development.

“I loved the fact that they proactively approached the business with the idea – rather than wait for an opportunity to come up, they worked together to create one.”

Similarly, Group Category and Shopper Manager Mark Polaczek didn’t hesitate to agree to the job exchange, as it was a natural step forward in Julia and Paul’s development and leadership journey.

As a result of the swap, we have two highly motivated and capable individuals that can leverage their existing skills, bring a fresh perspective to their new roles and are committed to the Co-op for the long term.

Mark Polaczek, Group Category and Shopper Manager

The first few weeks involved Julia and Paul shadowing and helping each other transition into their new roles.

“There were a lot of questions! Which is quite unique, because often when you take a role, the person has left the business already, so the ability to go to Paul for help has been awesome,” says Julia.

Now the training wheels are off and Julia and Paul have been in their new roles for four months.

“I don’t want to swap back – at least not yet!” says Julia.

Paul agrees with Julia, saying, “previous to this role I did sales my whole career, so it’s exciting to try something different out of my comfort zone and get a new skill set.”

“Being able to stay in Fonterra, because neither of us wanted to leave the Co-op, and taking advantage of the different roles out there and learning something new, has been a great opportunity.”

Julia and Paul’s job swap is an example of Fonterra’s commitment to providing a flexible working environment that attracts and retains the best people.