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The first NAWO NSW Professional Development Event for 2016 was  hosted by BlueScope and focused on Maintaining Motivation and Resilience. Diane Utatao of NAWO’S NSW State Committee attended and provided us with a terrific overview…


By Diane Utatao
Director – D&I Consulting Services Pty Ltd
Member, NAWO NSW State Committee

On Thursday, 31 March, BlueScope hosted a fantastic NAWO Professional Development Event at their iconic Port Kembla Steelworks near Wollongong.  The event theme was aimed at discussing the importance of maintaining motivation and resilience in developing our own and team’s careers.

The event kicked off with around 40 attendees completing a site tour of the Port Kembla Steelworks. First stop was the Raw Materials Berth where sand hills made of tons of iron ore are deposited on the shoreline.  The processing plants were awe inspiring with iron bubbling at 1500 degrees centigrade and the overflow slag bouncing off the side of the cauldron like thousands of tiny stars. At the Continuous Slab Caster molten steel was cooled, pressed and cut to customer requirements.  It was truly a memorable tour.

BlueScope is a global leader in premium brand coated and painted steel products with more than 100 facilities in 17 countries they employ over 16,000 people, making them the third largest manufacturer of painted and coated steel products globally.

2016 03 31 BlueScope Port Kembla SteelwroksFast facts on Port Kembla Steelworks:

  • Employs around 3500 people at the Steelworks and more than 10,000 extra jobs in the Illawarra are directly dependent on the Steelworks.
  • $2 billion in sales of locally produced steel per annum
  • Production capacity of 2.6 million tonnes pa
  • Covers 760 hectares
  • Approx 5 million homes around Australia have a Colorbond roof

Back at the BlueScope ‘Innovation Lab’ we enjoyed an opportunity to talk about the tour and network over a light lunch.

The event was formally opened by Sophie Krantz, International Trade Strategy Manager who talked about BlueScope’s commitment to supporting and promoting diversity with women making up just 16.6% of BlueScope’s global workforce.  BlueScope has taken a creative approach to improving gender diversity by launching a 12- month pilot program between the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and BlueScope, called ‘Change the Game’.  The program, launched in November 2015 and sponsored by CEO Paul O’Malley, aims to create more corporate opportunities for female athletes and improve gender diversity in sport and business.

After a short talk about BlueScope worldwide and their premium product, COLORBOND Simon Took, Engineering and Supply Chain Manager, introduced the key note speaker Penny Bingham-Hall, BlueScope Non-executive director.

Penny shared her career highlights and personal journey and provided some valuable points for attendees to consider.

Penny’s story:

After studying Industrial Design, Penny accepted a contract role with Leighton’s, at the time the largest construction company in Australia, which led to a career spanning 20 years.

In the 80s, construction was ‘rough and tumble’, wolf whistles on site and tyre calendars that didn’t depict tyres!  Women were generally secretaries or typists.  Penny decided not to learn to type!

Her first ‘break’ was in a chance meeting with the Deputy CEO who she told she didn’t like the annual report.  He later became her mentor and sponsor.  Penny expanded her knowledge of the business by taking up a range of different roles, from Investor relations and business planning to corporate affairs and talent development.  Penny became the only female member of the Executive team.

She is passionate about design in a built environment and all areas of equality, but especially for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.

Penny believes times have changed now, with more pathways open to women and more focus on aptitude and attitude than traditional male traits of dominance and autocracy.

Penny’s Tips:

Do something you love

Doing something well is very motivating in its own right. We all like to succeed – so find what you’re good at and change direction if you have to.

Take risks and go for it

Women often get criticized for not seizing the opportunities when they’re offered. There is nothing more motivating than stepping up to the challenge, taking a risk and then succeeding. “Lean in”

Learn from your mistakes

Motivation and resilience is as much about failing as it is about succeeding. How you bounce back will determine whether you have failed or whether you have shown resilience and learnt a lesson fast.

You can do everything, but not at once

You need to pace yourself and realise there are only 24 hours in any one day. You may be a perfectionist but if you want to get ahead you need to work collaboratively and learn to delegate – at home as well as at work.

Everyone needs “me” time

It’s impossible to be motivated and resilient when you’re physically and mentally exhausted. So make sure you take time out when you need it for your family – men do – and look after your health.

Following Penny’s riveting presentation, a panel convened with Penny, and two champion paralympians from the Australian Institute of Sport, Prue Watt OAM, Australian Paralympic Swimming Medallist and Madeleine (Maddy) Hogan, Australian Paralympic Javelin Medallist.  Prue and Maddy are part of the BlueScope ‘Change the Game’ mentoring program.

2016 03 31 BlueScope PDEPANEL DISCUSSION – On Resilience & Motivation – how do you keep positive through adversity?

Prue talked about a major setback when she fell sick 3 days before the Beijing Paralympics.  She swam 6 events but doesn’t even remember swimming in those events.

  • just ‘pushed through’ and learnt a lot about herself through that experience
  • Used the experience as ‘motivation’ for the London games
  • Had a great support team around her
  • Uses ‘distraction’ as a way to cope with negative thoughts about what ‘might’ happen
  • Sport has played a major role in building her confidence after being bullied at school
  • Is a self-improvement ‘junkie’ – reads a lot, listens to others stories and gathers advice in order to improve and progress

Maddie said most of her challenges came from incurring injuries.

  • Several low points and “nearly retired last week” – but something inside of me keeps me going
  • I don’t want to stop and have regrets later
  • Uses humour to deflect awkward situations
  • Constantly tries to push herself out of her comfort zone


  • A sense of humour and an eye on the road ahead
  • Being born into a strong family environment with support gives you confidence
  • Have courage and take risks – you may surprise yourself that you can do it after all

The key learnings from the day were to be courageous and step outside your comfort zone, keep learning and trying new things, the road will not always be smooth so find yourself a strong support team who will be there for you and, most of all, look after your health and your family along the way.

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