Out of Africa

Tracy Griffin works on the vital links between Volvo Group’s brands and its customers.

Born and raised in South Africa, Tracy Griffin was abroad on a gap year after finishing high school, when travelling through Europe for ten months whetted her appetite for new horizons. Upon returning home she informed her mother she wanted to go to university in Australia.

“My dad had passed away when I was in year 11, and he had always spoken passionately about a broader opportunity outside of a turbulent South Africa,” she says. “University would be my way in and I fell in love with Australia.”

Tracy permanently emigrated in 2005 and moved to Brisbane where she worked in a number of roles including as events operations manager at Eagle Farm racecourse.

“Initially, it was pretty daunting here on my own, with no family in Australia or even friends in Brisbane, but I have never second guessed the decision to come here,” she says.

Now in her tenth year at Volvo Group, Tracy says what initially attracted her were the values behind the organisation’s brands.

“Many organisations talk about core values but when I was interviewing for a position with Volvo Trucks it was very clear to me there was integrity behind those claims,” she says.

Prior to joining the Volvo Group Tracy had had little to do with trucking, yet the more she learned about the industry, what stood out was that it was more than just truck brands — the industry is very much orientated around personal relationships.

As Brand Manager Tracy is responsible for creating experiences which promote the brand for customers and dealers, a function she genuinely relishes.

“I love it,” she says. “I have been so lucky to conceive and deliver some amazing experiences over the years initially for Mack, then UD Trucks and now Volvo Trucks.”

One of Tracy’s highlights at Mack was the roll-out of the Brand Revitalisation for Mack, when not only the logo changed but there was a new focus for the brand’s marketing with its ‘Gold Dog’ proprietary driveline with MP10 or MP8 engines coupled with the mDRIVE transmission.

“The passion and history of the Mack brand is a rare and precious responsibility as a Brand Manager, and customer loyalty is especially important to nurture and we demonstrate how we can continue to add value for them and to their businesses,” she says.

During her tenure at UD Trucks Tracy was involved in what was essentially an entire new product range with the UD Quon, followed by the UD Croner.

“The launch of Quon was the perfect opportunity to showcase a brand that was once called ‘the best kept secret in the trucking industry’,” she says.

“This was my opportunity to do something unexpected and the hanging of UD Trucks from a crane on the floating barge on the Brisbane River complete with a fireworks show during the 2019 Brisbane Truck Show was just one of those unexpected moments.”

Tracy has been part of a team which launched the Volvo FMX in 2011, the Volvo FH in 2013 and in early 2021 the new Euro 6 Heavy Duty Range will make it way around the country.

The 2020 global launch of the new range in Sweden was an early casualty of the pandemic and the local introduction of the range has required some inspired thinking by Tracy and her colleagues.

“The nature of a truck and the complexity of its purchase create a situation where, under normal circumstances, you can get the customers into the trucks to test drive them, tell them about what comes with that vehicle and the support functions behind it,” she says.

“Normally we would bring customers to a national event and have all the trucks on display and do test drives or even take customers to Sweden and show them the trucks before they arrived locally. You can’t plan for something like COVID and we just couldn’t put all our resources into a scenario like that when every indication was that’s just not going to be able to happen, so we went back to the drawing board and thought the only way we can ensure our customers are able to see and feel the trucks and be aware of all of their features is to do this on a regional level and that’s why we have come up with the plan in which the trucks will travel around the country to create opportunities for customers to experience them.”

As the mother of twins and also a key member of a dynamic global organisation, Tracy is in a position to offer some incisive perspectives on society at large, and the support of parenting in particular.

“This year my children have started school and I have become very aware that the structure of society, whether it be business, school, or retail, seems to be based on a time back when men worked and women stayed at home to tend to the house and children,” she says – adding that due to today’s almost universal need for dual income households, schools starting at 8.50am is completely illogical for working parents.

“Work-life is never a balance, it is an undulating landscape of give and take. Creating a structure which engages both men and women in the workforce in a way which supports the family at home, will no doubt encourage improved well-being and productivity,” Tracy says.

“It will also encourage more women to the workforce at a higher level if they can still support their family needs in a less rigid structure. And it’s not just about the women, what if the man was able to take the equivalent paid maternity leave if they were to be the primary carer of children? I am very lucky to be supported by Volvo Group to work in a flexible way which suits me and my family, but I would love to see fundamental shifts in how all businesses approach the structure of a day’s work to allow flexibility.”

Tracy is appreciative of the experiences her career at VGA has presented her during the past decade.

“It has certainly been filled with incredible opportunities that have taken me all over the world,” she says. “And recently at Wacol I walked along the production line with the Prime Minister of Australia. What an honour.”

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