Women in Collision Seminar and Awards

Originally published in the March/April 2022 Paint & Panel Magazine by Australiasian Paint Panel.

Over 100 people enjoyed an afternoon of networking in Sydney, in-person and absolutely not virtually, to celebrate the amazing women who contribute in so many ways to the collision repair industry.

The postponed 2021 Women in Collision Awards were finally held in late February 2022. The stunning venue for the event on 25 February was The Gallery, Beta in the centre of the city.

The Speakers

As the attendees were tucking into some delicious lamb for lunch, the keynote speaker Natalee Johnston gave an incredible humble account of her journey as the Navy’s first female pilot. With great photos and a good deal of humour, she shared the challenges she faced along the way as she advanced her career. As well as flying helicopters, she can take them apart and put them back together. Following the death of some of her colleagues, after their helicopter crashed because of a maintenance issue, JOhnson talked about how she worked to improve the culture around safety.

In addition to hundreds of rescue flights to erupted volcanos and tsunami victims, among others, she also flew a helicopter into her daughter’s school – eclipsing just about any cool mum ever – to give a talk about careers in the Navy. Many of the attendees commented that they could listen to Johnston talk all day and that she was such an inspiring role model for women to believe they can achieve whater they set out to.

Next, Andrea McCarthy of McCarthy Panel Works in Mackay talked on a variety of subjects. She talked about the importance of bringing a fresh perspective and not doing things the way that they have always been done. As an example, she successfully applied for a government grant for equipment in the McCarthy workshop expansion. This was despite being told by her husband and others that there was no way she could win the grant. McCarthy also talked about the way that we should never use the word ‘just’ about ourselves or our actions – ‘it’s just me’. McCarthy also shared an update about a new initiative by MTAQ for women in the automotive industry called Auto Women.

Awards Winners

Finally, it was time to unveil the 2021 winners of the Women in Collision Awards. From over 150 nominations across several categories, McCarthy’s own Fiona Johnson won the award for Parts Manager of the Year.

Read the full article and see the fantastic event photos on pages 36 – 45 of the Paint and Panel Magazine.

Leave a Reply