Profile - Women in timber

Friday 21 May 2021

The timber industry has been historically dominated by men, but things are changing fast both inside the mill and in the office. In the latest issue of Timberlink's Newsletter, they spoke in depth with Denise Morrison and Carley Murphy, both working with Timberlink mills about their careers, the challenges they have faced and about why a career in timber is something young women should consider.

Q. What is your background and how did you enter the timber industry?

Denise: I moved to take up my current role as Operation Excellence Manager at Timberlink’s Tarpeena Mill in Dec 2019. Prior to that, originally from Melbourne, I moved to Tumbarumba for family reasons and had a personal training business. I began working nightshift at Hyne and moved my way up to be the production manager of the Dry Mill.

Q. How did you end up in your current role - Operational Excellence Manager?

D: My original goal at Hyne was to become Dry Mill manager but my interest in lean manufacturing to help minimise waste in the business led me into a Business Excellence role supporting all managers and personnel on site, to implement change and improvements. My lean manufacturing journey is now continuing as Operational Excellence Manager at Timberlink and I’m really enjoying getting stuck into the role.

Q. What are some of the challenges as a woman working in the industry? What can be done to improve this? What steps have been taken in your time that you have seen improve things for women?

D: From where I started in a small town, the boys were very “boysy”. It wasn’t until some people came from outside the town that women began to be promoted through the business. However, I’ve been very lucky in that the people I’ve worked with and companies have been great. There are always some guys around that try to be more dominant, but I won’t put up with it. I’m probably one of the lucky ones in that it hasn’t affected me.

Q. What advice do you have for women who are thinking about entering the timber industry or male dominated industries in general?

D: Be yourself, do the right thing, work hard, you will be acknowledged, there are no limitations on what you can achieve. It is about hard work and putting your best foot forward. Be confident and speak up when the opportunities are there.

Q. People often assume working at a sawmill involves a lot of lifting and manual labour. Can you talk a bit about the automation of the industry?

D: Typically mills were about manual labour a long time ago, but with the automation there is no limitation to what we can do in any role. A timber mill is a highspeed manufacturing plant. We are there to oversee the machinery, not to run the machinery, there is minimal manual work. It is hands off not hands on. Your physique is not an issue, it is about your mind. There is mechanical, electrical, HR, sales, safety and admin not just operators. So, I encourage anyone to get involved in timber. It is a great career, and it feels good knowing you are working with a renewable resource.

We’ll cover the short interview with Carley Murphy, Timberlink's Dry Mill treatment re-wrap operational Excellence Manager in next week’s issue.

Source: Timberlink

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