• Sheridan Gibson from AMA Group Micra photo by Ashley Mar
    Sheridan Gibson from AMA Group Micra photo by Ashley Mar

Over 100 people enjoyed an afternoon of networking on Friday 25 February in Sydney, in person, face to face and absolutely not virtually to celebrate the amazing women who contribute in so many ways to the collision repair industry. 

Now, I did welcome everyone to the 2022 Women in Collision Awards - when actually it was the postponed 2021 awards which was scheduled to take place last December. The pandemic had other ideas - if you nominated someone in your business who weren't finalists last year, then you will have the chance to nominate them again to a fresh set of judges later in the year. 

Johnson wanted to be a truck driver growing up.

The stunning venue for the event was The Gallery, Beta in the centre of the city. As the attendees were tucking into some delicious lamb for lunch, the keynote speaker Natalee Johnston gave an incredibly 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 again. Following the death of some of her colleagues  after their helicopter crashed because of a maintenance issue, Johnston 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 whatever 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 think or describe ourselves and 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. 

Kathy Zsravevski, VACC's industry policy advisor gave a talk on effective communication. She suggested always trying to put yourself in the other person's shoes and to make sure you make every digital connection count when face to face communication is not possible. Match people’s expectations, you can and should be trusted mutually in that relationship and then you are less likely to get into a conflict when expectations are mutually understood. Other suggestions included: Don’t write anything in an email you wouldn’t be prepared to say to the person to their face and that agreeing to disagree is ok, that it's how we come together to resolve the disagreement and reach a mutual understanding that is important.

Finally it was time to unveil the 2021 winners of the the Women in Collision Awards. Judging over 150 nominations was a huge task and we would like to thank this year's judges.

  • Kathy Brahim, Brahims Panel Works 

  • Clarissa Iacobucci, DSI Panels 

  • Sandra Noach, iQbodyworks 

  • DacotaEndacot, Leven Smash Repairs 

  • Amber Gabelich, Riviera  Panels

  • Sandra Gaitatzis, Torque Factor 

  • Tarny Haywood, Wallaby Crash Supplies 

  • Abbie Folmer RepairHub Banyo QLD

Also a huge thank you to our sponsors who all contributed to the goodie bags that everyone got to take home and in some cases with extra prizes for the winners including IAG who provided $550 I-CAR training vouchers for the winning technicians. 

2021 Women in Collision winners 


Isabella Turrise from Kingswood Smash Repairs AMA Group NSW

Karen Pyke, Circular Head Bodyworks TAS

Admin & customer service award

Harleen Kaur, Essendon Panels Vic

Vicki Sanbrook, Ray Morcoms Auto Body Repairs  NSW

Industry Supplier Representative

Sarah Martin, Advantage Solutions  WA

Julie Thomas Car-O-Liner Australia NSW

Parts Manager sponsored by Parts Check

Sheridan (Dani) Gibson from AMA Group Micra Hobart TAS

Fiona Johnson from McCarthy Panel Works QLD

Owner/ manager

Karlie Thainfrom Hove Panelworx SA

Joanne Dandan QWest Collision Centre NSW

Congratulations to all of the winners and to the finalists. You can read a profile of each winner in the March/April edition of Paint & Panel. 



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