Driving positive change: Rail recognised in Women in Industry Awards

The Women in Industry Awards celebrated the achievements from a number of industries, and Nadine Youssef’s work keeping Sydney Trains safe won particular recognition.

On August 24, the winners of the 2020 Women in Industry Awards were announced. The annual awards, co-presented by Rail Express, recognise excellence across heavy industry in Australia, including manufacturing, resources, waste and resource recovery, and transportation. This year saw a record number of nominees, and judges who were drawn from across the Australian industrial landscape commented on the calibre of nominations received.

Christine Gibbs-Stewart, CEO of Austmine and member of the judging panel, noted that nominees came from all stages of their careers.

“As I judge it was great to read each applicant’s inspirational story. From young women driving change to those more experienced who are running large businesses, the nominees this year should all be congratulated for their outstanding achievements,” she said.

One of the most nominated categories was the rising star of the year award. As such a competitive field, the number of nominations demonstrated the depth of talent that is coming into industry, said judge Hayley Rohrlach, AECOM senior civil engineer and national chair of the Women in Engineering Committee for Engineers Australia.

“The Rising Star of the Year award nominees were very impressive, and the industry as a whole has a lot to be excited for if that’s the level of young engineers, miners and scientists that are coming through the ranks.”

Winning this award was Alicia Heskett, of Shell Australia (QGC). The other finalists were Helen Vu – BOC, Kate Robertson – Geological Survey of SA, Kate Stanbury – Stantec Australia, Keren Reynolds – BAE Systems Australia, Louise Azzopardi – WesTrac, Nima Sherpa – BHP, Rose Lindner – MMG, and Vera Milutinovic – Inenco. “I hope they can continue their advocacy and sharing their enjoyment for engineering and STEM as a whole into the community to continue to bring (or retain) female engineers into the profession,” said Rohrlach.

As rail continues to grow the participation and representation of women in the industry, judges commented that awards such as these serve as a way to encourage more women into traditionally male dominated industries, while also celebrating the successes of those who have made this their career. Melissa Donald, National Association of Women in Operations (NAWO) board member, noted the importance of the awards.

“By highlighting the achievements of the finalists and winners I hope we can inspire more women and men to pursue careers in operations and continue to drive better gender balance across all industries.”

Institute of Quarrying Australia chief executive Kylie Fahey shared these sentiments.

“The awards promote the contribution of women and support the broader agenda of diversity and inclusion. By highlighting and celebrating the contribution of women to the industry, we can encourage more women into careers, help increase representation in leadership roles and support change,” she said.

“Awards are an important way for industries to acknowledge and celebrate innovation, ideas and change that are fostered through the involvement of individuals at all levels and through the diversity in teams. The applications demonstrate this and hopefully encourage other women to put their ideas forward and continue to strive for positive change.”

Nadine Youssef’s work within Sydney Trains was highlighted when she won the Safety Advocacy Award.

Every day, Nadine Youssef plays a vital part in ensuring that over 1.3 million people who use the Sydney Trains network daily get to their destination safely. Her work in this field was this year recognised with receiving the Safety Advocacy Award.

Youssef highlighted that working for a large and varied organisation such as Sydney Trains has allowed her to grow her career.

“It promotes a culture of quality customer service while expecting the highest standards of ethical behaviour from all its employees. It strives for a culture of integrity and professionalism and innovative thinking. With customer service and safety always at the heart of what we do, there is an enormous variety
of interesting, challenging and rewarding opportunities across a range of professions,” Youssef said.

Since 2018, as the associate director of the Electrical Distribution Unit, Youssef has been the custodian of the Electrical Network Management Plan and the Electrical Network Safety Rules (ENSR). Youssef began and led the redesign of the ENSR to meet industry best practice standards and promote organisational continuous improvement.

Significant infrastructure upgrades such as the introduction of Sydney Metro increased the demand for electrical work and resources, in addition, Sydney Trains’ management of substation access permits limited efficiency. Parallel with redesigning the ENSR, Youssef was an integral member in implementing a pop-up electrical learning centre to overcome the shortage of accredited electrical personnel and provide a safe location to train staff away from the hazards of the live environment.

Receiving the award, Youssef noted that the recognition extends to a support network of colleagues, family and friends.

“This recognition is motivating and humbling and a reminder that the work we
do everyday matters. However, I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for my incredible mentors, colleagues, family and friends, so this nomination is equally extended to them.”

The importance of a supportive work environment is one that Youssef noted.

“In my office and in my field, I am surrounded daily by intelligent, strong and talented people and following this experience I will continue to lean in and lift up those around me and am inspired to find ways to pay back and recognise the work of others.”

While the finalists and winners of the Women in Industry awards were not able to meet at the usual awards ceremony, a virtual network has sprung up, and has encouraged Youssef to share her experience with others.

“I am glad to have a new network of women who I can collaborate with as I continue on my professional journey. Being named a finalist and winner of such an award is a professional and personal achievement that carries with it great responsibility. This experience compels me to continue to share my story and knowledge with even more women looking to grow in my industry.”

As Youssef looks to promote a cohesive approach to public planning and integrated services, she is encouraging others within industry to think about where they want their career to take them.

“It is important to establish a strong, productive working relationship with your colleagues and peers and to take responsibility for your own career path. Don’t be afraid to try your hand at different things in your organisation and then only you will be able to decide your future career path. Lastly, never stop learning and developing yourself regardless of your age. In this ever-changing world it is becoming more and more important to be able to change and adapt with it.”

For Youssef herself, who has progressed to an executive role within Sydney Trains, she is only just getting started.

“I truly feel that my biggest achievement is yet to come. I am proud of my career to date and the impact that I have been fortunate to make, but I am always looking to achieve more tomorrow than I did today and am constantly striving to improve myself and the organisation I work for.”

Celebrating diversity key to unlocking talent

Recognising leadership and growth in the rail sector, the finalists for the 2020 Women in Industry Awards are celebrating the rail sector’s diversity.

The headline figure from the Australasian Railway Association’s (ARA) Gender Diversity Report was that rail had once again continued to grow the participation of women in the workforce.

Since 2017, the ARA has been surveying the industry to measure the gender diversity of rail at all levels, from track and maintenance workers, through to senior management. These report cards also highlighted the breadth

of roles that women take within the rail industry, from working with rail operators, to consultants and suppliers.

In 2019, reported Caroline Wilkie, CEO of the ARA, the industry achieved its best figures yet.

“In 2014, women represented only 17 per cent of the workforce. In 2018-19, women’s representation in the industry was 27 per cent.”

This increase, six per cent higher than previous figures in 2016-2017, has been driven by a number of factors and initiatives across the industry. By 2019, 86 per cent of rail organisations had formal policies or strategies that support gender diversity, 41 per cent have specific gender pay equity objectives.

These strategies have been supported by the work that the ARA has done for the industry as well. After the publication of the Women in Rail Strategy, the ARA set up the Women in Rail Advisory Committee and the Women in Rail Network and mentoring program to support initiatives undertaken by rail organisations themselves. These cross-industry groups have been able to provide a forum for networking and information sharing across the industry.

“As a result, we are seeing more women build their network in rail to support their career advancement, connect with mentors and create new opportunities for growth,” said Wilkie.

Despite these achievements, when compared to the national workforce, there is still more work to do. For example, the national average of women in full-time roles is 38 per cent, while in rail only 21 per cent of full-time workers are women.

However, recent events may provide new opportunities. Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the associated change in working patterns, flexible working was one area that was seen as enabling greater diversity in the workforce, and not just for women.

“Flexible work is increasingly important for all of us, not just women. The experience of this year has shown once and for all that we can succeed while allowing people to work flexibly. Many of us have juggled working from home alongside our kids attending school online and have still delivered for our employers,” said Wilkie.

With 74 per cent of rail organisations reporting having formal policies for flexible working arrangement in 2019, and a 16 per cent increase in employer funded paid parental leave for primary carers, taking the industry figure to 62 per cent, Wilkie said it is likely that these policies will be extended.

“As our workplaces return to normal, we should be considering how flexible arrangements can ensure our people can live their lives well while also working effectively. Providing flexibility will increasingly be part of attracting and retaining our top talent, whether male or female.”

Indeed, as flexible working has shown, the benefits of a diverse and multifaceted workforce are felt through the industry. With rail having a critical workforce shortage, particularly with the planned and projected levels of investment, it will be more important than ever to encourage more people to the rail sector.

“As the rail industry grows, we will need the best and brightest to propel the industry forward and we can only achieve that if we are a truly diverse industry. Put simply, if we don’t have a diverse workforce we are missing out on talent,” said Wilkie.

For an industry that provides a critical service to a variety of the general public, diversity is also about being able to meet customer needs.

“Diverse workplaces encourage a mixture of thought and ideas,” said Wilkie. “Different perspectives help bring innovation to the fore and make sure the rail industry is meeting the needs of everyone that uses the rail network.”

Beyond attracting diversity into the rail workforce, the next step is retention. This can be in part achieved through industry awards and recognition, which showcase the range of roles that women take in the industry and the successes they achieve.

In July, Rail Express announced the finalists of the 2020 Women in Industry awards. Showcasing the talents of women in industrial, and often male-dominated sectors, the awards this year saw a record number of nominations, beating the 2019 record by 27 per cent. The growth of the awards was not only represented in the nominations themselves, but the number of individual businesses and organisations submitting nominees across varied industrial sectors.

The awards span multiple categories, including Social Leader of the Year, Rising Star of the Year – sponsored by Atlas Copco – Business Development Success of the Year, Industry Advocacy Award, Safety Advocacy Award – sponsored by BOC – Mentor of the Year, and individual excellence awards across the fields of transport, engineering (sponsored by BAE Systems Australia), mining, and manufacturing.

The most nominated category was the Rising Star Award, which received a record number of entries this year.

Rail organisations represented in the awards include agencies within the NSW transport cluster, including Transport for NSW, Sydney Trains, and Sydney Metro.

Sonja Malcolm, senior manager – capability & development from Sydney Metro, is a finalist for the Industry Advocacy Award, which recognises the work done to promote the transport industry. Malcolm has transformed the way that NSW government agencies support and enable sustainable employment of disadvantaged groups.

Nadine Youssef, associate director at Sydney Trains is a finalist for the Safety Advocacy Award. Youssef has worked to raise awareness of electrical hazards in her role within the Electrical Distribution Unit as the networks is modernised.

Lidija Dumbaloska, professional head of electrical engineering at Sydney Trains, is a finalist in the Excellence in Engineering category. Dumbaloska has supported collaboration across transport agencies and the energy sector to grow knowledge of electrical engineering.

The opportunity to highlight the achievements of women such as Malcolm, Youssef, and Dumbaloska is critical for the industry as a whole said Wilkie.

“When we recognise the women that are achieving great things in the industry, we also encourage other women to aspire to build their own careers in rail. As they say, ‘You can’t be what you can’t see.’ So, it is important to celebrate the successes of women in rail.”

In addition, although not named in the awards, behind each finalist and potential winner is the champions and organisations that have supported them.

“It is also important to celebrate the men and women that are championing diversity in their organisations and awards help us recognise the positive efforts of many in our industry,” said Wilkie.

Winners were announced in August and a full list of finalists are below.

Social Leader of the Year
Jackie Lewis-Gray – BAE Systems Australia
Alanna Vial – BlueScope
Althea Papinczak – Women in Design and Construction (WIDAC)
Elizabeth Taylor – RedR International
Gemma Murphy – QBE Insurance
Jane Tiller – Monash University
Sarah McSwiney – Boeing Aerostructures Australia

Rising Star of the Year
Proudly sponsored by Atlas Copco
Alicia Heskett – Shell Australia (QGC)
Helen Vu – BOC
Kate Robertson – Geological Survey of SA
Kate Stanbury – Stantec Australia
Keren Reynolds – BAE Systems Australia
Louise Azzopardi – WesTrac
Nima Sherpa – BHP
Rose Lindner – MMG
Vera Milutinovic – Inenco

Business Development Success of the Year
Rachael Ashfield – ifm
Caroline Murray – APS Industrial
Jackie Thew – Abrasive Media Supplies
Marika Logan – Elgas
Stefanie Frawley – Colliers International
Sonia Turner – Scope Systems

Industry Advocacy Award
Rose Read – National Waste & Recycling Industry Council

Elizabeth Molyneux – AGL Energy
Hayley Jarick – Supply Chain Sustainability School
Jacquelene Brotherton – Transport Women Australia Limited
Jodie Sainsbury – Kickass Women
Joy Marrocco – AGL
Shay Chalmers – Strategic Engineering
Sonja Malcolm – Sydney Metro

Safety Advocacy Award
Proudly sponsored by BOC Ltd
Nadine Youssef – Sydney Trains
Annastasia Denigan – Cement Australia
Lyndal Denny – Women In Trucking Australia
Maddy Holloway – CITIC Pacific Mining
Natalia Trewin – WesTrac Pty Ltd
Noelani Reardon – Transport for NSW
Terese Withington – Weir Minerals Australia Ltd
Tracey MacDonald – BAE Systems Australia

Mentor of the Year
Dayle Stevens – AGL Energy
Clytie Dangar – CRC ORE
Kylie Jones – Diageo Australia
Marie Varrasso – Officeworks

Excellence in Manufacturing
Rochelle Avinu – Leica Biosystems
Josie Costanzo – Brickworks Building Products
Marina Melik – Boeing Aerostructures Australia
Rebecca Parnell – Artisan Food Company Pty Ltd
Samantha McDonald – Bluescope

Excellence in Mining
Sarah Withell – Whitehaven Coal Limited
Carlie Hayward – BHP
Clytie Dangar – CRC ORE
Jacqueline Madsen – Caterpillar
Kim Parascos – iVolve Industrial Technology
Rose Lindner – MMG
Terese Withington – Weir Minerals Australia Ltd

Excellence in Engineering
Proudly sponsored by BAE Systems Australia
Elizabeth Taylor – RedR International
Jane MacMaster – Engineers Australia
Jo Withford – Department of Transport
Lesley DeGaris – Boeing Aerostructures Australia
Lidija Dumbaloska – Sydney Trains
Mandy Petrides – Bosch Australia

Excellence in Transport
Melissa Strong – Lindsay Australia Limited
Agnes Lesson – Elgas
Camilla Drover – Transport for NSW
Danelle Kempton – Dananni Haulage
Jane Gillespie – Arup
Lyndal Denny – Women In Trucking Australia


Women in Industry winners announced

On Monday, August 24, the winners of the Women in Industry awards for 2020 were announced.

Judge Melissa Donald, board member of the National Association of Women in Operations said that the quality of nominations made judging difficult.

“The calibre of nominees was so impressive, with a range of experience and backgrounds, which made judging challenging. Congratulations to the winners, whose achievements can inspire more women and men to pursue careers in operations and continue to drive better gender balance across all industries.”

The winners of each category are:

Social Leader of the Year – Jackie Lewis-Gray – BAE Systems Australia

Rising Star of the Year, sponsored by Atlas Copco – Alicia Heskett – Shell Australia (QGC)

Business Development Success of the Year – Rachael Ashfield – ifm efector

Industry Advocacy Award – Rose Read – National Waste & Recycling Industry Council

Safety Advocacy Award, sponsored by BOC ltd – Nadine Youssef – Sydney Trains

Mentor of the Year – Dayle Stevens – AGL Energy

Excellence in Manufacturing – Rochelle Avinu – Leica Biosystems

Excellence in Mining – Sarah Withell – Whitehaven Coal Limited

Excellence in Engineering, sponsored by BAE Systems Australia – Elizabeth Taylor – RedR International

Excellence in Transport – Melissa Strong – Lindsay Australia Limited

Hayley Rohrlach, 2020 chair of the National Committee for Women in Engineering said that the awards should serve as encouragement for all to continue to grow the industries they work in.

“I hope they can continue their advocacy and sharing their enjoyment for engineering and STEM as a whole into the community to continue to bring (or retain) female engineers into the profession.”