How Did You Get There? An Interview with Samantha Oxford

By Kinexus on 3 May 2018
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Samantha Oxford began her professional career as an acquisition and procurement intern with Fincantieri. After taking an opportunity to relocate to Italy, she shares her insights on life in Italy, completing an internship and the culture at the Italian Shipbuilder.

What are you currently studying and why?
I am studying a double degree; Bachelor of Commerce with a major in Finance and a Bachelor of Business with a major in International Business. I chose these degrees as I love being able to communicate with people within roles and I love the prospect of being able to build Australian businesses up in the international domain. I feel as though Australia is not looked to as a key player in many markets and it has always been a passion of mine to show the world that Australia isn’t just a holiday destination. I chose Finance as I wanted a rounded understanding of how companies and countries financially function as this may aid me with future assessments of potential markets and suppliers.

What were you responsible for during your internship with Fincantieri? 
While interning with Fincantieri, I supported Silvia Penna, the Australian Supply Chain Manager. My role was to meet with potential future suppliers and consolidate the information gathered to create a succinct outlook into the Australian market. I also aided in discovering potential opportunities for Fincantieri to invest in to build up the capabilities in the Australian market.

What did you learn from your time working with Fincantieri over in Italy?
While in Italy I had three major roles. My first rotation was in the qualitative assessment of our suppliers, ensuring that each supplier had the relevant paperwork and legal requirements needed to function properly and to be considered a Fincantieri supplier. The second role was in the Finance sector where I followed parts of the quantitative assessment of suppliers as well as the sustainability report for the Milan stock exchange. The third area was IT procurement where I followed many tenders and met with many companies such as Google to discuss future projects and negotiate acceptable pricing and bundles. I also supported the Australian Roadshow by contacting Australian suppliers and revising documents to ensure they met Australian standards.

I learnt many skills while over there that I have been able to transfer into not only working environments but also everyday life. Some of the skills include negotiation and conversational techniques (including how to communicate with people from diverse cultural backgrounds); corporate structure and working in business units (team building); financial and qualitative analysis techniques and a deep understanding of the Naval vessel market.

Where were you located and for how long?
For the first ten days, I was located in Genova attending briefings about the shipbuilding industry and the company itself before I was moved to Trieste in the corporate head office to begin my role rotations. I left the beginning of January and returned beginning of March.

Would you encourage others to follow suit if given the opportunity to work for Fincantieri in Italy for a while?
The structure and guidance given to me while over there along with the exposure to diverse areas allowed me to gain a complete outlook on future career prospects. I would encourage others to pursue opportunities within Fincantieri as they understand the nature of ensuring their employees comprehend the bigger picture of the projects as well as the minor details. They care about ensuring you are on the right track and are gaining exposure in the areas you want to learn, they are very open to making sure you meet your career goals.

How did u find the company culture?
I found that I acclimatised well to the culture in the company. Obviously having only ever experienced working life within Australian organisations I knew that there was going to be a shift in how I presented myself in the Italian culture. However, I found the transition very satisfying, as being an international company; they too understood that I was from a different background and helped acclimatise me to the Italian culture. I absolutely loved how warm and open they were to me; I felt that they really ensured I was supported 24/7 by inviting me to many outings and “aperitivo’s” and always making sure that I was going okay (in and out of work and in all aspects of my health).

What did you like to experience and get up to in Italy whilst not working?
When I wasn’t at work, I loved exploring the city and finding new places to eat and shop. Trieste is a beautiful seaside city and has many historical points to visit; all my weekends were filled with trips to local areas as well as visiting Milan and Venezia. I found their gyms were really good as well and PT’s were able to assist me when I needed.

What do you think makes Fincantieri such a successful global shipbuilder and what will Fincantieri offer Australia and its local industry?
I believe what makes Fincantieri such a successful global shipbuilder is their ability to transfer knowledge and skills they have developed over the past 200 years and translate that into modern technology. Their partnerships and industry experience across the world means they understand how to tailor projects to individual countries and companies. They see a problem, and instead of focusing on the problem and solution they listen to the underlying aspect that has created the problem in the first place and try to find solutions to this. They are a tailored company that has all its resources focusing on multiple areas of shipbuilding (cruise ships, naval vessels, mega yachts) which allows them to translate breakthroughs in one area immediately to another area.

What advice would you offer to Australians who might get the opportunity to work for Fincantieri Australia and also spend some time in Italy?
My advice is to be open to the experience and be a yes person because so many new opportunities and friendships can be fostered by just saying yes to going out for dinner or lunch with someone, or joining a sporting team while you’re over there. The other piece of advice is to be very open about your career development plan. Even if at the beginning you are unsure what area you want to go into or have no idea, discuss with colleagues about their roles and when you find something that peaks your interest make sure you talk to someone about it as you may be able to assist them with future projects.

Regarding spending time in Italy, be sure to make connections with people as they can offer suggestions on places to go so you can avoid the tourist traps, and if they offer to come with you then you can find your way around a lot easier (if you don’t speak the language). Italy is a beautiful place, and in my travels, I got to see so many incredible things.

Why would you choose shipbuilding as a career and would you recommend your experience to future students/ interns and graduates?
The shipbuilding industry is a vast area. One role could have you working on defence projects while the next could see you working on a mega yacht. I think it’s an overlooked industry for future students and graduates as Australia doesn’t have a strong footing in the industry, but the possibilities are far reaching in terms of where you may be located, what you can learn and the companies you can work for.

Samantha Oxford
Fincantieri Australia

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