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Woman Manufacturer of the Year

Recognising the contribution of women to manufacturing in Victoria.

The inaugural Woman Manufacturer of the Year award recognises the contribution of women to manufacturing in Victoria. 

At a glance

Value of this Award

Industry recognition of outstanding women in the manufacturing sector.


Open to outstanding women in the Victorian manufacturing industry.

Woman Manufacturer of the Year

2019 Winner - Rochelle Avinu

Rochelle Avinu started her career as a Medical Laboratory Scientist, working in the laboratory of a local hospital performing the manual process required to enable pathologists to diagnose cancer. Using this skill and knowledge she moved to Vision Biosystems (acquired by Leica Biosystems). Leica Biosystems, located in Mt Waverly is a medical device company, specialising in the design and manufacture of diagnostic and research instruments in the fields of oncology, haematology and life sciences. 

In Rochelle's 19-year tenure at Leica Biosystems, she has held various roles in multiple teams: Scientific Project Lead, Global Support and Quality Assurance. Now in the manufacturing side, she manages over 50 people across five product lines, shipping worldwide.

She is a passionate advocate for diversity and respect in manufacturing and was responsible for co-creating a new Leadership forum to enable the sharing of experiences and a better workplace. Rochelle holds a Bachelor of Science (BSC) in Immunology and an Associate Diploma in Medical Technology.

2018 Winner - Vanessa Kearney

Vanessa Kearney is Commercial Manager for the Geelong Refinery of Viva Energy Australia, one of the largest and most complex hydrocarbon refineries in Australia with 700 staff.

Vanessa commenced her career as a graduate chemical engineer at Kwinana Refinery (BP Australia) and through continued career advancement Vanessa broadened her business experience and developed impressive leadership capabilities and commercial acumen through management roles across supply and logistics, finance and refining.

She also became the first female member of the Refinery senior leadership team and is a strong advocate and role model for women in non-traditional industries. She established and continues to sponsor the Geelong Refinery’s Women’s Network, which offers support, development and networking opportunities to other women forging careers in non-traditional fields.

2018 Winner - Jill Walsh

Jill Walsh is a Partner and also Director of Human Resources at Actco-Pickering and the General Manager of ARM Group Australia.

Jill’s first major role in manufacturing came as partner for a company that developed service stations and small shopping centres in Queensland. She moved on to purchase a sheet metal fabrication business called Actco. Actco later merged with Pickering Sheet Metal and moved to Dandenong. Acto-Pickering Metal Industries specialises in the manufacture of high quality sheet metal components for industries including Transport, Defence and Infrastructure.

Jill is also a member of the Committee for Dandenong and the Victorian Premier’s Jobs and Investment Panel. As board member for the Committee for Dandenong, she supports local manufacturers in Dandenong, including to encourage the take up of apprenticeships and skilled workers. Jill is an active mentor to women across various industries, including both established leaders and those on the road to success.

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