Marie Varrasso’s supply chain career has already taken her to the top of household-name global companies – including Nike and Officeworks. But she’s only just beginning. As uTenant’s new Chief Operating Officer, she has her eyes squarely set on realising a vision bigger and bolder than ever before.
uTenant Co-Founder Kyle Rogers once remarked to MHD that the company doesn’t hire new personnel by routinely checking off boxes of pre-determined criteria. For a company that prides itself on pushing boundaries and disrupting the status quo, uTenant instead focuses its energies on finding people with intellectual flexibility, creativity, and passion. These latter qualities are what can’t be taught.
And if a drive for disruption, innovation, and novel thinking is in uTenant’s DNA, then it makes sense that its freshly minted Chief Operating Officer, Marie Varrasso, exhibits these same qualities. “Part of my DNA has always been to push and to challenge the status quo,” Marie says.
Which isn’t to say Marie isn’t highly credentialed – she certainly is. Her previous two jobs were Head of Supply Chain Operations at Officeworks and Director of Supply Chain and Logistics at Nike. But while high level experience and depth of expertise might be a necessary condition to become COO of uTenant, it isn’t a sufficient condition.
Marie demonstrated the ‘X factor’ that distinguishes those who never rest on their laurels – no matter how many accomplishments they’ve already racked up.
“After working 25-plus years in the corporate world, I knew it was time to join a company that was really shaking things up,” she says. “I feel I know the traditional rules pretty well. I’m with a company that breaks the rules; that remakes the rules. uTenant is changing the warehousing game at the same time as it’s changing the property game. Taking on and innovating in two of the largest industries and doing it simultaneously – that’s audacious. I knew I wanted to be a part of that mindset.”
Not only was Marie willing to take the leap from the world of established big corporates to a dynamic start-up – but she did so knowing that she would be learning a whole new industry on the fly. “My previous experience was not in property. But that’s what attracted me – the opportunity to learn something brand new. You can’t expect to disrupt predominant patterns of industry thinking unless you’re willing to disrupt your own patterns of thinking, too.”
She notes with approval that the uTenant team is comprised of people with the same makeup – possessed of great depth and breadth of skills, but always working to improve themselves. And it’s one of Marie’s primary goals as uTenant COO to amplify that commitment to development and innovation among her new team.
“That is what excites me about the future of supply chain, and uTenant’s role within that future,” Marie says. “How do we as individuals and as a team do things differently? How do we invest in our team so that every one of us realises the best version of ourselves? That to me is very exciting. My goal is to help ensure that we look after our team in the right way – through reward and recognition and development. Because that pays dividends for the people working at uTenant and the customers uTenant serves. I believe that if we look after our team, they will automatically look after our customers. I truly believe that.”
Marie’s other key ambition for uTenant – and for the industry as a whole – is to better utilise technological innovation to enhance end-to-end visibility.
“Consumers are demanding visibility in supply chain: Visibility in end to end processes from design right through to “selling on the floor”, identifying where the goods are, understanding consumer needs today for tomorrow, sustainability and ethical considerations – and more,” she says. “uTenant’s values are those of trust and transparency – and those values are realised through the kinds of technological innovation and disruption that are the company’s bread and butter.
“With this grass-roots demand for transparency, visibility, and trust – technology is moving from being an enabler for organisations to actually becoming the engine room of supply chain.
“uTenant is at the cutting edge of developing and incorporating new platforms and technologies. It’s an exciting thing to be a part of. I joined uTenant because I felt I could contribute to challenging the old ways of doing things and branching out our digital ecosystem to new, unexplored territory. We’re already doing it, and we’ll continue to do it.”
Marie admits that she’s someone who “wears my heart on my sleeve”. True to form, she is both passionate and confident when assessing uTenant’s future trajectory.
“I’ll tell you something, we will take uTenant global – there’s not a doubt in my mind.”
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