Trailer Magazine

Empowering Women in Industry

  • From the June 2017 issue.
Empowering Women in Industry

Held for the first time in June 2017, the Women In Industry Conference has provided a forum for those in road transport, mining, manufacturing and engineering to create action plans to tackle gender issues.

Now in its fourth edition, the annual Women in Industry Awards has been held in Melbourne in June, celebrating the achievements of a number of women across mining, manufacturing, engineering and road transport.

This year, the awards were complemented by the inaugural Women In Industry Conference, which took place at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre earlier the same day. Hosted by Trailer Magazine Editor, Bianca Dohnt, the conference gathered together around 80 successful women to share insights, advice and statistics on their respective industries through a series of case studies, panels and roundtable discussions.

"Though our sectors are all very different, we came together because we share a common interest in advocating for our industries, the opportunities they provide for ambitious women, and how those women can make the industries better in return," Bianca explained as she welcomed the delegates and introduced Keynote speakers, Jennifer Conley, Executive Director, Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council, and Robyn Elliot, Senior Director, Strategic Expansion Projects at CSL.

The Keynote address took the form of a conversation between the two Directors, who delved into the importance of balancing masculine and feminine character traits, speaking up against discrimination and seeking a mentor.

"You have to think about what you want to achieve from your career, whether it is taking on a leadership role, or not – both options are perfectly okay, if it is what you want," Robyn said – adding that staying true to your personal values can help provide guidance.

The Keynote address set the tone for the entire conference, providing a conversational character where feedback and questions were welcomed from speakers and the audience alike. Later in the first half of the day, the Conference heard from Amanda Rawstron, founder of Logar Consulting. Amanda began her own onsulting firm off the back of a successful career in the transport and logistics industry, having held senior positions at the Toll Group and Kings Transport, which made her a finalist for the Women In Industry Excellence in Road Transport Award in 2016.

Amanda shared her considerable experience in third party logistics and spoke on the factors of success and key drivers that bring a business to the forefront. "When we think about the factors of success, we often strive for our businesses to be innovative, transformational and revolutionary. But are we equally focused on bringing our supply chain to the forefront?" she asked delegates – reinforcing that is the combination of a structured business model and optimised supply chain that result in business success.

Amanda highlighted the potential of predictive demand analytics, which she explained offers businesses the opportunity to expand the 'Just In Time' model one step further to not just deliveries, but to the creation of products. "This can reduce the stock on hand, lowering warehousing costs and even create a continuous flowthrough where no storage is required," she said.

After lunch, event attendees broke off into three 'Industry Insight' sessions to discuss topics on a industry-specific level, with Australian Mining Editor, Ben Creagh, moderating the mining group, Syed Shah, Editor of Manufacturer's Monthly in the Manufacturing session and Trailer Magazine's Bianca moving in to the Road Transport group.

Though separated, the groups shared a focus on the shortage of women taking up STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects at school, and how each industry's public perception as being male-dominated contributes to it staying that way.

"In the Road transport session, we created some real action plans to encourage more women to pursue greater success, and spread the word of our industry's potential. To encourage more women into male-dominated industries, we need the support of the male population, too," Bianca explained – calling for the support from people across all industries to help re-frame the mindset and create a welcoming environment.

"Road transport, mining, manufacturing and engineering are major contributors to the Australian economy and if we don't do something to create a more diverse working environment, it will affect us all. It is through the collaboration of men and women together that we can help secure the country's future."

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