2015 Women in Industry Awards Finalists: Social Leader

Finalists for this year's Social Leader award have been announced

Teagan Dowler – Founder, The Blue Collared Woman

Teagan Dowler started a social media movement called The Blue Collared Woman (The BCW). The BCW is dedicated to supporting and empowering women to be confident leaders in the engineering, construction and resource industries. The ethos of The BCW is to encourage women who work in these (and other masculine industries) to view their feminine side as a strength and remain true to their values, whilst being savvy and aware of the cultures they work within.

This platform exists as a website, blog, Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter account. Across all of these platforms The BCW has over 1,600 subscribers. The BCW promotes confidence, pride and camaraderie amongst women in male-dominated industries and connects people from all types of roles and industries; from tradespeople to project managers. It is a space for women to connect constructively to share experiences and strategies for succeeding in the workplace.

The BCW sends out messages to inspire women, to let them know they are not alone when navigating challenges and to allow advice and experiences to be shared amongst members. The BCW platform also enables women to reach out to Dowler via private messages and emails to discuss any specific challenges they may have. These services are performed completely free of charge.

Sue Webster – Executive Officer, Agribusiness Gippsland

Since Sue Webster assumed the position of executive officer of Agribusiness Business, the group has transacted $750,000 in local, state and federal government assistance, as well as corporate support, all used for industry-good activities. In that time the group has been directly involved in the formation of five local agri-companies that employ 10-15 people.

Webster also secured ongoing annual seeding funding for AGI from all eight municipalities across Gippsland to the NSW border and, during her tenure, has expanded that group by two.

In 2013, Agribusiness Gippsland was chosen as one of 16 of Australia's best-practice regional groups to address the national Sustainable Economic Growth for Regional Australia forum in Coffs Harbour. Webster has also been asked to address the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW agribusiness forum in Sydney mid-year.

Working initially two days a week (now three) as the only paid staffer, Webster initiates and sources funding and supervises and reports on at least eight projects a year.

Several of these have become ongoing projects with their own web presence. Last year she established supplychainsmarts, a cluster of agribusiness SMEs keen to curb power use, while this year working with local Landcare, Webster established a 'matchmaking' service for landholders keen to host hives as a risk-mitigation for important bee populations.

Jill Follington – Executive Director, Industry Mid North Coast

Jill Follington is the inspiration and energy behind the first regional industry association that is led by 10 CEOs or managing directors of the largest manufacturing companies across the region. 

She is also the inspiration behind the women in manufacturing leadership group that combines women in industry, women from the professional sector such as lawyers and finance and the regional managers for both the Department of Industry and Science and the Department of Trade and Investment.  She was also the founder of the first Regional Economic Board that has since inspired strong working relationships between the 6 LGAs in the region, a Regional Manufacturing industry Action Plan and also a plan for tourism, construction and transport and logistics.

Follington also works on many youth committees and has helped the surf clubs in the Hastings region to better facilitate their enterprises so that they can create income generation for future sustainability. 

She has sat on the NSW Board of Studies manufacturing group as the nominated representative for the manufacturing industry.

Samantha Kerr – SCADA, COMMS & Protection Implementation Engineer, Energex

Samantha Kerr is a leading female engineer who has provided significant positive social benefit through her creation of the "Save Our Sanity" (SOS) interactive sessions in Queensland through Women In Engineering Qld (WIEQ), a special interest group of Engineers Australia. The SOS program aims to retain women in engineering through fostering positive support networks and providing continuing professional development. The SOS program recently won a High Commendation Award for Most Encouraging Student or Not for Profit Group in Gender Diversity through Engineers Australia in November 2014.

The SOS program is for engineers on parental leave, working part-time, out of the workforce or on a sabbatical. The sessions aim to retain women in engineering. Children, toddlers and babies are welcome and attend the SOS sessions. Samantha developed each session to have guest speakers and/or workshop facilitators. The focus of these sessions includes: a forum for modes of working, professional networking, leadership, professional development, and engineering professional development. Past guest speakers have included: CEO of Energex, Terry Effeney, an advocate for flexibility and diversity within the workplace; Leeanne Bond, current board member and Professional Engineer of the Year 2007; and Tiffany Wann, founder and facilitator of Outstanding Women Leaders. For the 2014 program, Samantha secured 10 impressive guest speakers including Sydney journalist, Kate Mills, from ProfessionalMums.net online.

Nicole Borkowsky – Associate Director, CDIF Group

Nicole Borkowsky has been a member of the Women in Engineering Queensland (WIEQ) Committee since June 2013. WIEQ is a group within Engineers Australia, whose objective is to attract, support, celebrate and retain women in the engineering profession. It serves all women in engineering by organising and supporting a variety of activities throughout the year that promote this objective.  Borkowsky began as Co-event Coordinator and now fills the role of Sponsorship Officer. Membership of the WIEQ committee is voluntary.

After the birth of her first child in 2011, Nicole began a mother's group for professional women in Brisbane via the website Meetup. The value of the group was instantly recognised by women across Brisbane with membership increasing rapidly to begin with, and consistently ever since.  The group now enjoys membership of over 600 Brisbane women who use the group as a tool to meet other professional women who are either experiencing motherhood for the first time, or who have tried and tested experience as working mothers.