People on the Move

Construction industry shines spotlight on Queensland's best, brightest, heavy lifters

THE construction industry may have endured some of its toughest trading conditions over the past few years, but it is skilling and innovating for a very bright future, judging by the 2013 Construction Skills Queensland Excellence Awards results.

Some of the best results were from regions that have weathered some of the most challenging trading conditions, such as the Gold Coast, where a total of four awards were won - Major Training Group as Registered Training Organization of the Year; Usher and Sons Commercial Coatings and McConnell Dowell's Light Rail Project both for Employer Commitment to Training Excellence; and Jon Lea who won the individual Construction Professional of the Year award.

Construction Skills Queensland (CSQ) presented the winners of this year's Excellence Awards in front of a crowd of 1000 industry members at a gala event at Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre on Friday (November 8).

CSQ CEO Brett Schimming said the evening, whose major sponsor is Lend Lease, saw the construction industry come together to honour its best and brightest.

"CSQ would like to congratulate the winners, finalists and nominees of the 2013 Excellence Awards for their exceptional industry achievements over the past year," Mr Schimming said.

"Their contributions to Queensland's building and construction industry are impressive and they are an inspiration to each of us to work harder and continue striving for excellence. 

"Through the exceptional quality of nominations and a sold-out event, this year's Excellence Awards confirms industry leaders are recognising the vital role of training and upskilling for the future growth of the industry," he said.

Mr Schimming said Construction Skills Queensland is an independent industry-funded body supporting employers, workers, apprentices and career seekers in the building and construction industry. CSQ provides the construction industry with strategic insights and data to help plan workforce needs well into the future and these insights are supported with advice and funding assistance through a range of programs and initiatives.

The 2013 Excellence Awards are strongly supported through sponsorship by the indsutry's leading organisations, including Mirvac and dinner sponsor Electrogroup Apprenticeships and Training.


Award winners were announced in 12 categories:

Hutchinson Builders Award for Construction School of the Year: St Laurence's College, South Brisbane.

Master Electricians Australia Award for Construction Student of the Year: Andrea Oliveri, Cairns.

The Construction Training Centre Award for Registered Training Organization of the Year: Major Training Group, Gold Coast.

Bechtel Award for Employer Commitment to Training Excellence (up to $20 million turnover): Usher and Son Commercial Coatings Pty Ltd, Gold Coast.

Major Training Award for Employer Commitment to Training Excellence (over $20 million turnover): McConnell Dowell - Gold Coast Light Rail Project, Gold Coast.

Sarina Russo Apprenticeships Award for Construction Indigenous Person of the Year: Jason Smith, Cairns.

National Association of Women in Construction Award for Construction Female of the Year: Nadia Mendez, Toowong

Civil Contractors Federation Award for Construction Professional of the Year: Jon Lea, Gold Coast.

Training and Assessment Mentor Award for Construction Trainer of the Year: Peter Hopper, Mackay.

Laing O'Rourke Award for Construction Trainee of the Year: Sidney Scarth-Johnson, Brisbane North.

Lend Lease Award for Construction Apprentice of the Year: David Keys, Everton Hills.

Judges Outstanding Achievement Award: Tec- NQ Ltd, Townsville.



Business women say a ‘career break' may be catalyst to better options, entrepreneurship

A POLL of the 2013 Telstra Business Women's Awards winners has provided fascinating insights into the vexed question of what are known as 'career breaks'.

Jeannine Biviano, a NSW Deputy Director General, is a finalist in the Telstra Business Women's Awards 2013.


Interestingly, about 87 percent of respondents said taking on parenting responsibilities could actually be a catalyst to becoming an entrepreneur.

Many leading business women interviewed believed that while a career break was often perceived as negatively impacting a woman's career, it can also be a catalyst to reassess a career path, try something new and perhaps lead on to entrepreneurship.

The online survey of 115 state and territory Telstra Business Women's Awards finalists, undertaken in early October, found 89 percent of respondents said women face challenges when returning to work after a career break, regardless of whether the break was for extended travel, study leave, maternity leave or other reasons.

About 36 percent said a break spurred women on to try something different, 55 percent believed taking time out could be positive as it enabled women to reassess their life and career, with 87 percent making the observation that becoming a parent could lead to starting a new business.

QSuper CEO Rosemary Vilgan is in the running for the national Telstra Business Women's Awards.


But four in 10 women said they found it difficult to re-enter the workforce in the same capacity. One-third of women surveyed believed a career break negatively impacted wealth creation and 20 percent believed women find it difficult to be considered for a role equal to their experience.

There were some reassuring views that came out of the poll, with 82 percent believing Australia's entrepreneurial culture is alive and well. The five key attributes of women entrepreneurs were counted as passion; a hard work ethic; creativity; vision; and innovation.

Yet 44 percent of respondents said they had also experienced an inequity in pay for a like role held by a male colleague. Asked why the pay gap still exists, 53 percent said the workplace still favoured males and 46 percent said women found asking for money intimidating.

The survey was undertaken in the lead-up to the national finals of the Telstra Business Women's Awards being staged in Melbourne on November 14. The awards are in their 19th year of celebrating the achievements of outstanding Australian business women.

"The awards are an important platform for women to share their experiences and the choices they've made in their personal and business journeys," said Kate McKenzie, Telstra chief operations officer and Telstra Business Women's Awards ambassador.

"These valuable insights provide inspiration for other women to make the best of their talents and opportunities in today's workplaces."

Carolyn Creswell, 2012 Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year and managing director of Carman's Fine Foods, admitted she was "in labour and punching out the last email" before her first child.

She said women who were business owners should plan and put things in place before taking a career break.

"It's amazing how dispensable you are," Ms Cresswell said. "When you have great people at work, the business just keeps going."

Jocelyn Parsons, the manager of Salvage and Intervention at the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and the 2012 ACT Young Business Women's Award winner, joined the Navy at 17 and took a career break eight years later, moving overseas for a couple of years.

Reflecting on her experience she said, "It was the first time I thought about a world outside Defence - it was a chance for me to take stock both personally and professionally. It was the catalyst for me to leave the Navy and to explore new things."


Karen James, general manager for Women in Focus at Commonwealth Bank, said,  "A career break can provide the opportunity for a person to discover their passions. It's our experience that many women have used their career break as an opportunity to assess their purpose, which often becomes the catalyst for them to launch their own entrepreneurial venture.

"At that time we encourage women to seek out social communities, like Women in Focus, to stay connected and get the support they need to grow and thrive."

The eight women who are finalists for the title of 2013 Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year are:

Jeannine Biviano, Deputy Director General, Department of Trade and Investment (NSW);

Sonja Cox, director of operational performance, Policy & Planning for the Department of Corrective Services (WA);

Laura McBain, Bellamy's Organic CEO (Tasmania);

Dr Julia Newton-Howes, CARE Australia CEO (ACT);

Cheryl Shigrov, founder of Precious Cargo Education Pty Ltd (SA);

Sadhana Smiles, Harcourts Victoria CEO (Victoria);

Helen Summers, owner of Helen Summers Optometrist Eyecare Plus Darwin, (NT);

Rosemary Vilgan, QSuper CEO, (Queensland).

Other awards presented at the event will be the Business Owner Award, Private and Corporate Sector Award, Community and Government Award, Business Innovation Award and Young Business Women's Award.


Sue Morphet now chairs Manufacturing Australia

MANUFACTURING Australia, a business coalition of Australia's largest manufacturers, has appointed Sue Morphet, formerly CEO of iconic Australian designer and manufacturer, Pacific Brands, as the group's new chairman.

Ms Morphet takes over from Dick Warburton AO, who retired at the end of 2012.

Ms Morphet had worked for Pacific Brands for 17 years, leaving the company in August 2012.

Ms Morphet came in for heavy media and shareholder attention as a result of her role in moving much of Pacific Brands' manufacturing offshore, to China, in a publicly unpopular move the company believed had allowed it to stay in business.

Manufacturing Australia's member CEOs selected Ms Morphet, they said, because of her passion for the sector, and her credentials as a CEO of a manufacturing company which endured extreme pressures from cheap imports, the GFC and the rapid commoditisation of consumer goods. The CEOs said Ms Morphet's credentials included, during a tough period in the clothing industry, setting in place a strategy that has since helped the company to return to profit and ongoing viability.

The CEOs of Manufacturing Australia's member companies believe that a productive domestic manufacturing sector is fundamental to a healthy Australian economy.

Manufacturing employs almost one million Australians and is one of the largest providers of direct and indirect employment, with between two and five jobs created as a result of each manufacturing job.

"Wherever manufacturing flourishes, so too does skilled employment, innovation and thriving regional communities," Ms Morphet said.

"I am not in favour of protectionism, nor organisations that use external issues to cloud faulty internal business processes," she said.

"For manufacturing to be strong it needs a fair level playing field, a sound commercial and regulatory environment that attracts investment and a representative voice to raise the calibre of national debate on the issues affecting the sector."

Under Ms Morphet's leadership Manufacturing Australia announced it intended to continue working with the Australian Federal and State Governments as well as other industries and influencers to ensure fair and appropriate industry policies, and to secure the future of this sector.

Manufacturing Australia's inaugural chairman, Dick Warburton extended his congratulations to Ms Morphet.

"Whilst positive outcomes have been achieved for Australian manufacturing over the last 12 months, the sector remains severely threatened," said Mr Warburton.

"I'm therefore delighted that Manufacturing Australia, with Sue Morphet at its helm, will continue to ensure that Australian manufacturing is represented by a strong voice for manufacturers on vital public policy and economic issues."




Women in Technology use their 20-20 vision

It may have looked like an event from the 1920s but the mindspace was in the 2020s when 250 technology industry professionals gathered to honour industry role models at the 12th annual Women in Technology Awards on Saturday night.

Robin Craig and Sonja Bernhardt: 1920s 'tech'.

Staged at The Tivoli in Fortitude Valley and themed on the 1920s, the event was a celebration of the massive contribution women are making in the information and bio technology industries.

The Women in Technology (WiT) Awards focus on recognising the achievements of women working in the IT and biotech industries, including as students, researchers and in executive roles. In its lifetime, 88 awards have been made with the winners sharing in over $570,000 in cash and prizes, and achieving recognition for excellence in their field.

Special guest Karen Struthers, the Minister for Women and Minister for Community Services and Housing, praised the contribution of those who had forged new ground in their fields, especially the eight winners and more than 25 nominees.

"Throughout history many brilliant women have not been recognized for their incredible contributions to science and technology," said Anne-Marie Birkill President of WiT. "The WiT awardsaim to ensure the current cohort of female scientists and technologists are recognised and rewarded for their achievements and to identify wonderful role models for men and women working or aspiring to work in technology."

For the first time in 2009 WiT awarded an Employer of Choice, a new category sponsored by the Queensland Government Office for Women. This award was made to the Mining Industries Skills Centre in recognition of their commitment to providing both men and women with a supportive and flexible work environment.

The winners of the 2009 WiT Awards were:

Sonja Bernhardt, CEO of ThoughtWare, was awarded the WiT ICT Outstanding Achievement Award, sponsored by Optus. Passionate about her industry, since 1997 Ms Bernhardt has consistently encouraged others to either take up a career in technology or adopt technology in their daily use through a multitude of career, role model, mentoring and board readiness programs. 

A certified developer of enterprise (CDE) and fellow of the Australian Institute of Management, she was the first Australian inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame (Silicon Valley 2005). Ms Bernhardt was a founder of WiT and AWISE and has held, and continues to hold, a string of impressive board and executive appointments locally, nationally and internationally. She has founded several start-up companies including her current venture, award-winning Thoughtware.

Hannah Cullup of Mater Medical Research Institute won the WiT Biotech Rising Star Award Sponsored by IHBI, particularly for her work on graft versus host disease (GVHD). GVHD is caused by the new transplanted immune system recognising the patient's body as foreign, attacking the skin, liver and GI tract. Dr Cullup hopes to determine whether depleting dendritic cells, a specialised white blood cell which controls the body's immune responses, could play a major role in preventing GVHD.

Yvonne Buckley of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Queensland won the WiT Biotech Research Award Sponsored by UQ. Ms Buckley works jointly in the School of Integrative Biology at UQ and CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems and is interested in various aspects of applied theoretical ecology. In particular she works on the population dynamics, species interactions and management of invasive plants.

Zee Upton of the QUT Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation was awarded the WiT Biotech Outstanding Achievement Award sponsored by QCTN. Professor Upton is a biochemist, inventor, tissue engineer and dedicated developer of new intellectual property opportunities. She is an inaugural Smart State Senior Fellow, a professor in Life Sciences and leader of the Tissue Repair and Regeneration Program in the QUT Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation. Prof. Upton is also technical founder and consulting chief scientific officer for Tissue Therapies Limited. Her diverse expertise in growth factor protein, molecular and cellular technologies underpinned her discovery of VitroGro, a growth factor-extracellular matrix protein complex that stimulates cells to grow and migrate.

The only make to accept an award on the night, Mining Industry Skills Centre (MISC) CEO Derek Hunter said on receiving the WiT Employer of Choice Award, sponsored by the Office for Women, that his organization had no special policy on employing women. Rather, he said, MISC employed on skill and merit - which meant more than 70 percent of his employees were women and the majority of the MISC board was also made up of women. MISC is a Queensland based, not-for-profit organisation that partners with industry and informs government to maximise the skills of workers in the resources industry to assist in the sustainability of the industry.

Katherine Dann of the Department of Education and Training was awarded the WiT ICT Professional Award, sponsored by UNISYS. Ms Dann's knowledge and experience of enterprise technology is both broad and deep.  She holds a Masters of Commerce, majoring in information systems, and has contributed 15 strong years to the ICT industry working for government.  The judging panel felt that Ms Dann's ‘hands-on' approach, technical experience, and aspirations for the future provided an excellent grounding for a very successful career in ICT.

Therese Seldon, a PhD student at the Mater Medical Research Institute was awarded the WiT  PhD Career Start Award, sponsored by Griffith University. Ms Seldon is hoping to develop therapeutic DC antibodies to treat or prevent GVHD as well as develop antibodies for DC vaccination of patients against leukaemia and other cancers. She is using antibodies already developed at the Mater Medical Research Institute that recognise DC.  Ms Seldon has a promising future in the development of new diagnostics and therapies that will bring health and other benefits to all.

Barbara Tobin of the Queensland Youth Orchestra has taken out the WiT Executive Award sponsored by 3W. Ms Tobin has held a range of senior positions in the ICT industry, and has a proven record in the difficult field of sales, including growing the revenue of an IT distribution company from $7million to $38million in seven years.

While committed to her busy professional career and the demands of her extended family, Ms Tobin has found time to make extensive commitments to the community, including as immediate past-president of WiT and AWISE, and currently as vice-president of the Queensland Youth Orchestra. She was the founding project manager for the first WiT Board Readiness program, and a driver behind the development of many other WiT products.


The WiT Awards have been running since 1997 and have grown from three awards to nine this year. The WiT Awards have enjoyed tremendous support from industry, including from long-term sponsors such as Optus. 

In its lifetime, 88 awards have been made with the winners sharing in over $570,000.

Women in Technology  is one of Queensland's most respected and active technology industry associations.  Founded in 1997 by just 10 women, the association has now grown to a membership to over 400 women and men. 

In 2002 Women in Information Technology became Women in Technology; recognising the relationship between IT and emerging fields of science and engineering.

In 2005 WiT launched Women in Biotech and Women in Infotech, separate chapters to cater to the needs of the rapidly growing membership. WiT now offers cross-chapter and chapter-specific programs and events to members.

WiT represents the interests of all women working in the technology industries - from students to senior researchers, women working in micro-businesses to multinationals, the public and private sectors, the city and the regions.

WiT runs a range of programs and events including the much lauded Board Readiness Program, which prepares women for roles as directors on for-profit and not-for-profit Boards.


CUA's new CEO to drive growth

Credit Union Australia (CUA) has appointed Chris Whitehead as chief executive officer with a mandate to to drive its long-term strategy to become Australia's number one member owned financial institution.

Chris Whitehead.


Mr Whitehead, who was most recently regional director of Bank of Scotland, is aiming to offer new insight to the credit union with more than 20 years experience in information technology and financial services including nine years with Bank West.

CUA Board chair Kevin Ross said Mr Whitehead's experience and focus were aligned with CUA's future development.

"Chris's skills in developing retail banking products, services and management teams combined with his experience in systems and process improvement will help CUA evolve and secure greater market share," Mr Ross said.

Mr Whitehead said he was enticed to accept the role due to his drive to educate the market on alternatives to the ‘Big Four Banks'.

"CUA has a very strong market position and there is still immense potential to grow its membership and offer the community a solid alternative to the banks based on great service, fairness and value for our members -- which underpins CUA's differentiation in the market place," he said.

CUA is Australia's largest credit union and mutual financial institution, comprising 404,000 members, 800 staff and $7.7billion in assets under management.


Women too modest to nominate for awards?

Australian women are very modest when it comes to recognising their professional achievements, the Telstra Business Women's Awards nomination process has revealed.

Holly Kramer, group managing director for Telstra Product Management and Telstra Business Women's Awards Ambassador, said despite their remarkable achievements women were still reluctant to put up their hands and seek acknowledgement.

"Despite the fact that we are seeing excellent levels of nominations for this year's Awards, more than 86 percent of women who have currently been nominated have been put forward by someone else," Ms Kramer said.

"During the past five years we've seen more nominations for the awards but a decline in the number of women nominating themselves.

Image copyright Ross Coffey
Holly Kramer, Telstra. (Image copyright Ross Coffey)

"Whether this is because women are modest or they don't realise how amazing and inspirational their efforts are, we'd like to see more women putting themselves forward for the Telstra Business Women's Awards," Ms Kramer said.


The nomination data indicates the main reason women are being nominated this year is the passion they put into their work. Women are clearly inspiring others to take the time to nominate them.

Ms Kramer said in 2005 almost 36 percent of women who entered the awards were self-nominees, in 2006 it was 37 percent, but since then the number of women nominating themselves has slid gradually.

In 2007 only 19 percent were self-nominees, last year fewer than 17 percent of women nominated themselves, and to date this year fewer than 14 percent of the nominees put themselves forward.

"Programs like the Telstra Business Women's Awards offer successful business women the opportunity to raise their business' profile and be recognised for their success," Ms Kramer said.

"We know that women are often busy multi-tasking and balancing work, life and family so sometimes highlighting their achievements falls by the wayside. The awards provide the much-needed recognition for women in business all over Australia.

"This year we celebrate the awards' 15th year and so far we've recognised more than 400 exceptional business women. We are calling on all Australians to nominate both themselves and other deserving women, whose business journey, hard work and dedication to their chosen field have been an inspiration to others."

2008 Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year Leanne Wesche encourages women to nominate for the awards immediately.

"I would encourage all women in business to participate in the program. Completing the entry process is a learning experience that will help you grow professionally," Ms Wesche said.

"The Telstra Business Women's Awards provide participants with the acknowledgement of the great job they are doing and provide your business with valuable publicity and recognition."

In 2009, there are five award categories open to Australian business women:

Commonwealth Bank Business Owner Award - for owners with a 50 percent share or more in a business with responsibility for key management decision making;

Hudson Private and Corporate Sector Award - for employees in the private and corporate sectors, or owners with less than a 50 percent share of a business;

White Pages Community and Government Award - for employees in government departments, statutory bodies and not-for-profit organisations;

Nokia Business Innovation Award - for eligible business owners, private sector employees and entrepreneurs who answer the Innovation questions in the Entry form; and

Marie Claire Young Business Women's Award - for entrants who are eligible in one of the three qualifying categories who were born on or after July 30, 1974.

Awards are offered in each category in every state and territory with the winners eligible for the national finals in November. Nominations close on July 10. 


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