Exceptional women celebrated at annual awards

Last night, the winners of the 2024 Women in Industry Awards were announced during a gala dinner event at Doltone House in Sydney.

These annual awards aim to recognise women doing great things in their field across the transport, mining, manufacturing, engineering, logistics, bulk handling, waste management, rail and construction and infrastructure sectors. They acknowledge women who have achieved success through their invaluable leadership, innovation and commitment to their sector, contributing to growing the business or helping to shape the careers of others.

The award winners were judged by a panel of industry representatives, including Women in Trucking Australia (WITA) CEO Lyndal Denny, Transport Women Australia Ltd chair Jacquelene Brotherton, Women in Safety founder Alanna Ball and others.

The first ever female managing director at Swietelsky, Anne Modderno (left). Image: Prime Creative Media

Taking out the Excellence in Transport award was Anne Modderno, who is the first female managing director at Swietelsky, appointed in May 2023. Since then, Anne has made significant strides in aligning the company’s operations with a new strategic direction. She also actively advocates for inclusivity and diversity within the transport sector, promoting initiatives to increase female participation and close the gender pay gap.

The Excellence in Mining award went to Sinead Booth, head of decarbonisation delivery at Fortescue. Through her role she oversees the seamless integration of all innovative green equipment and energy systems within the company’s iron ore operations in the Pilbara. She has established pioneering programs aimed at bridging the gender gap in the mining sector, making significant strides towards gender equity. Beyond that, she has held leadership roles at the Gomo Foundation, dedicated to educating disadvantaged women in Africa.

Excellence in Construction was presented to Sinead Redmond, who is a qualified engineer and project manager, in the construction industry for over 18 years. As GeelongPort’s head of infrastructure delivery, she oversees the port’s engineering, asset management, and project management functions. To add, Sinead led the establishment of the first regional chapter of NAWIC, recognising the need for better female representation in construction, particularly in regional areas.

Allyson Woodford walked away with the Excellence in Engineering award. As the general manager of engineering and planning at APA Group, Allyson leads approximately 355 people to support APA’s $22 billion worth of critical energy infrastructure across Australia. She has also created award-winning in-house leadership training programs for emerging engineering leaders; and has received recognition for leadership via national and international awards.

It was double the accolades for Derelle Mitchell, who won two awards. Image: Prime Creative Media

Taking home the Excellence in Manufacturing award was managing director of Health Focus Manufacturing, Derelle Mitchell. She founded the cosmetics manufacturing business in November 2011. From a small business of three staff, she has built her company into a $10 million business, which will soon be launching a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. As well as being committed to growing local manufacturing capability, Derelle is also firmly focused on advocating for women in the manufacturing industry.

Vesna Olles from BOC South Pacific (left) won the Excellence in Energy award. Image: Prime Creative Media

The Excellence in Energy award went to Vesna Olles, director for clean energy and strategy at BOC South Pacific. Since coming into the role in October 2019, she has been committed to driving the company’s strategic direction in clean energy encompassing renewable hydrogen, alternative fuels and LNG. Vesna has championed BOC’s efforts in clean energy, and advocated for the company’s investment in national building projects to support Australia’s transition to net zero emissions and pave the way for the development of the emerging hydrogen industry.

Manager of national accounts in defence, utilities and infrastructure at United Rentals Sandra Robinson was presented with the Business Development Success of the Year award. Over the past 12 months, she has introduced several new initiatives that have helped to grow the company’s market share and significantly increase revenue within the commercial business segment.

The Industry Advocacy Award went to Steph Gee, a fully licensed electrician and owner of CM & SM Gee Electrical. She actively promotes gender equality and empowerment on the jobsite while holding influential positions on national industry boards and government training and apprenticeship committees. Steph also finds time for mentoring and is active in her community via local committees.

Kirstin Reblin was named Mentor of the Year. Image: Prime Creative Media

Kirstin Reblin, general manager transformation at Opal Packaging won the Mentor of the Year award. She has served as a mentor for Opal’s NAWO Mentoring initiative since 2020 and engaged other senior leaders to participate as mentors. She also developed ‘Thinking Diversity: Women at Opal’, a network that had grown to over 450 members by March 2024.

Kathleen Kelly of MᶜConnell Dowell received the Safety Advocacy Award. With a background that covers construction, operations, human resources, OH&S, training, WorkCover claims, and injury management; Kathleen is passionate about developing health, safety and wellbeing programs. During her 22 years in the construction industry, Kathleen has received numerous accolades from projects and various organisations for her dedication towards a culture of safety excellence.

Kate Leone (left), who works for UGL, was presented with the Rising Star of the Year award. Image: Prime Creative Media

While Kate Leone, who works for UGL as a communications engineer on the M6 Stage 1 project in Sydney, was presented with the Rising Star of the Year award. She displays strong leadership skills, develops and maintains respectful relationships across the team, and works hard to ensure successful outcomes are achieved.

The evening culminated in the announcement of the prestigious Woman of the Year award. This was presented to Derelle Mitchell at Health Focus Manufacturing, resulting in her taking home two awards for the night.

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