What Kathmandu’s GM has learnt leading a multinational retailer from his son’s bedroom

Kathmandu Stephen Domancie

Kathmandu general manager Stephen Domancie. Source: supplied.

I am sure I am not the first to express this sentiment, but I never envisaged I’d be leading our entire Kathmandu network of 163 stores across Australia and New Zealand through temporary closures and curfews, all from my son’s bedroom.

This current lockdown in Melbourne is challenging.

I am trying to focus on the positives, especially more time with my six- and seven-year-old sons in between their Zoom meetings.

My boys definitely don’t think that me staring at a computer with 12 ever-revolving faces is a ‘hard day’s work’. To them, school work is much harder.

I’ve also gotten to know more about the Kathmandu team via tours of their homes and their home baking tips from our ‘Foodmandu’ group.

It’s so impressive the way each of them embodies the Kathmandu brand, supporting B Corp initiatives and sporting their puffers in morning meetings.

Kathmandu is a brand built on adventure and travel, and our store teams are experts that live and breathe that outdoor ethos. So, it’s hard to see them confined to their houses.

The great thing is the tenacity they have shown.

This definitely comes from a view of ‘adapting to the position you’re in’.

Many of our team have come up against adversity in their journeys and are leaning into this one exceptionally well.

I am working hard on staying in the moment.

Mental health is such an important aspect, especially under the restrictions in Melbourne.

I have downloaded a meditation app to ensure I find that quiet time for 10 minutes per day, as well as actively getting out within our allocated hour for a power walk.

As a senior leader, that white space to breathe and think is more valuable than ever in this ever-changing environment.

Communications and keeping in touch is important.

We use Workplace by Facebook to communicate directly to each of our team members and update them with great content and need-to-know information.

It also allows them to connect with other team members directly who are experiencing the same thing.

Right now, our biggest priority is the safety of the teams, especially in operating areas such as our distribution centre in Melbourne and stores in regional Victoria.

The buck stops with all of us in making sure all our teams are safe and healthy. Nothing is more important.

Online sales continue to be positive, and we’re working hard to keep this platform updated and meet the demand safely and within the rules of the stage four lockdown.

There isn’t a playbook on how to respond to these challenges, but the team has worked so collaboratively to deliver innovative solutions in a demanding time.

It’s a balancing act between the restrictions and customer service, but really, every decision during this time must come back to what is going to be best for our team and customers.

NOW READ: Beyond ping pong and free beer: How to instil startup culture in a distanced team

NOW READ: This time-lapse video shows how exhausting it is to work from home with young children


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