On behalf of the WFTN, ForestWorks would like to congratulate Wendy Fennell on winning ‘Business Woman of the Year’ at the recent Women in Business and Regional Development (SA) – Annual Influential Women of The Year Awards.
Wendy was one of 26 women who were nominated for the award, including three others from our industry – Tammy Whitehead, Director at Glenara Transport; Patricia Merrett, Director at Merrett Logging; and Emma-Kate Thorpe General Manager Human Resources at Forestry SA.
Achieving the title is an inspiring achievement and a wonderful way to recognise Wendy’s hard work and passion for our industry. It is also so fantastic to see so many women from our industry nominated for this award, illustrating the level of female talent in our industry and the value of our industry’s work.
Wendy began her working career at her family owned business G & R Logging; a company that was established by her parents Graham and Val Fennell and partner Ronnie Nilsson in 1991.
Starting out her career before she was even in her twenties, Wendy worked tirelessly alongside her brother Barry to help grow the business into the major plantation hardwood and softwood harvester and transporter it is today.
Two decades on, she now the Managing director of Fennell Forestry, and sits at the top of her field, competent, successful and highly respected amongst her peers and community.
However, her success didn’t come without challenges. Reflecting back on her early years, Wendy said she experienced more ageism rather than sexism by others in the industry, but persistence and hard work earnt her respect over time.
After doing some work experience at the business during her gap year after high school, Wendy went to live in Adelaide to study for her Bachelor of Accountancy. There were WHS elements as part of her degree (risk management) so she thought she could use the family business as part of her studies.
She has continued to apply her learning throughout the business to ensure its success. She believes Safety is paramount and wants Fennell Forestry to be leaders in best practise and an employer of choice.
She said her father was her greatest mentor, both in starting out in the industry and in staying with it. She said he always encouraging her to get involved in every facet of the business.
There were also a number of women who were involved in the industry at the time that were influential to her development, in particular Tammy Whitehead and Karen Forster. Wendy says she still holds longstanding relationships with both of these women.
Wendy recognises that people and their development is important. She believes in giving people a go, just as it was applied to her all those years ago, and wants to continue to grow the business going forward.
A mother of two young boys, Wendy understands the importance of work life balance when it comes to attracting and retaining workers. She firmly believes in the saying “Work to live not live to work”.
She is a strong advocate for the industry and believes the perception of the industry needs to be overturned and this can be done through tours, schools and more positive media stories. She is fiercely proud of the industry and that it is not second rate to any other.