2015 Women in Industry Awards Finalists: Excellence in Manufacturing

Finalists for this year’s Excellence in Manufacturing award have been revealed.

Christine Morris – HR Director, Joy Global Australia

During her tenure at Joy Global, Christine Morris has seen the highs and lows of the mining industry with periods of record revenue to a period of business realisation where the market dropped significantly. Morris has been able to effect the required changes to the business in this time whilst keeping the respect and support of her colleagues.

Morris was the mastermind behind the merger between two business units (Joy Mining Machinery and P&H MinePro) with distinctly different cultures and the integration of a business acquired by Joy Global (LeTourneau). These mergers were all executed with minimal impact to the business.

Through her direct contact, Morris was also responsible for an initiative that saw the formation of a partnership that resulted in manufacturing employees becoming embedded within Joy Global customer’s operations so as to explore opportunities for improvements post production and to expand the economic benefits for both customer and the organisation.

The initiative in itself is unusual within the industry but virtually non-existent considering it has been driven from the director of human resources.

Michelle Vince – Group Range Development Manager, Blundstone Group

Michelle Vince accepted an invitation from Centennial Coal to discuss improvements to existing range of boots and consider developing a new underground mining leather boot.

After initial meeting with Centennial representatives and discussions around understanding the environments for which the boots would be required to work in, Vince along with colleagues spent days underground in operations in varying conditions, engaging coalface personnel to discuss issues with current boots on the market and what their requirements were to make the working day as comfortable as possible.

After these discussions and time spent in actual working conditions, Vince lead her team in investigating new materials and technologies that could be incorporated into a boot that would completely advance and innovate footwear in the industry.

Working closely with mining personnel and representatives, she lead development, trials and production of a completely new product.

The new boot compiled new softer, lighter, more durable leather that had previously been used in hiking and fire retardant footwear. It incorporated a new lacing system, called the "boa", which included a ratchet style fitting with aviation grade steel lacing, which gave an even and controlled tightening around the foot and leg. The boots were significantly lighter in weight than competitors products, which was immediately noted by the end user and would assist in reduction of fatigue and reduction in repetitive strain injuries.

Svetlana Zatsepin – Managing Director, Coolon LED Lighting

Svetlana Zatsepin came to Australia in 1991 with her husband, children, and a budding love for a country that would become her new home.

While learning English, she used her electronics engineering background to assemble and solder PCBs. Her meticulous attention to quality resulted in growing demand for production of PCBs, and soon her husband, Alex, left his occupation at Bosch to join her in a family venture, creating electronic circuitry designs while Zatsepin focused on production.

From humble beginnings, the wife and husband team grew the company to employing 50 people, with Zatsepin managing production, accounting, purchasing of electronic parts, quality control, building facilities, HR and all business administration. Through determination and perseverance, Zatsepin learned how to deal with the challenges of growing a business and developing strong leadership skills, while maintaining a keen eye on the quality of production.

The business weathered well the various economy-wide financial downturns between 1993 and 2014, with no layoffs. This was largely due to Zatsepin's belief in "no corners cut" quality in the face of lower-priced offshore competition. As well as this, a core belief of Zatsepin is a dedication to supporting her employees and creating jobs for the Australian manufacturing sector.

The Zatsepin‘s continue to invest heavily in Melbourne-based R&D and electronics manufacturing, they recognise the challenges of keeping manufacturing jobs onshore.

For the last 24 years, Zatsepin has been devoted to keeping manufacturing local. Her vision of Coolon Lighting becoming the world's leading light manufacturer drives the company forward.

Colly Galbiati – Managing Director, Soma Organics

In late 2012, Colly Galbiati launched premium snack-food company Soma Organics Pty Ltd. Galbiati is passionate about healthy eating and raising public awareness for quality organic food and nutrition and through this passion, Soma Organics was born.

In November 2012, Soma Organics started in the kitchen of her home where she begun hand making the (future) award-winning Soma Bite range. Due to a large increase of demand, Soma Organics outsourced their successful home kitchen business into a certified organic food manufacturer specializing in snack bars in just over 9 months.

Since then, Galbiati has developed 3 health snack bar ranges for the Soma Organics brand – the award-winning Soma Bite range, Your Soma Bar – protein bar; and the latest project Eco Bars – a raw energy snack made from cricket flour.

During this time, Galbiati has met with national and international buyers, the largest being Woolworths Ltd. where the award-winning Soma Bite range has now been stocked for 18 months in what started in 100 stores and is now over 400 stores nationally.

Kamini Wijekulasuriya – Manufacturing Manager, Western Sydney Service Centre, Bluescope

Kaminin Wijekulasuriya is the Manufacturing Manager at BlueScope's (BSL) Western Sydney Service Centre (WSSC), the company’s flagship COLORBOND(R) Paintline. 

She is a successful and highly regarded operations manager in the business and has contributed significantly to BlueScope’s success in some of the most challenging parts of its operations.

From the waterfront, through ironmaking, raw materials and now in coating and finishing operations , Wijekulasuriya’s leadership style has brought people along with her whilst successfully reducing costs, generating revenue, promoting industrial harmony and opening up new business ventures. Wijekulasuriya‘s ability to apply her technical operations expertise, strong people leadership and business acumen sets her apart from her colleagues.

Wijekulasuriya‘s move to the Paintline from Primary Operations, where steel is manufactured from raw materials meant a steep technical learning curve. At the same time she was responsible for successfully introducing a stainless steel product to Paintline for the first time and reviewing the business model for existing aluminium products.

Through her leadership this has resulted in the successful commissioning of stainless steel products with reduced operating costs and increased revenue. Wijekulasuriya is in the process of challenging the current business model for BlueScope’s Aluminium painting to broaden the company’s customer base and increase the revenue stream. She has successfully engaged the wider WSSC team, tapping into their dedication and enthusiasm whilst at the same time establishing herself as a trusted and credible new leader.

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