DIGGA Australia CEO Suzie Wright (pictured) has been recognised for steering the company through economic downturn and transforming it into a global tour de force.
Wright was awarded the International Women's Day Leadership Award for Global Business Partnerships, Collaboration and Export Marketing.
The seasoned executive has been at the helm of the Yatala-based earthmoving equipment company since 2004, after initially joining Digga's marketing department.
The business was established in 1981 by Wright's former husband, Stephen Wright, who she says remains a close friend as well as business partner.
Wright says it is challenging being a CEO of any type of company, let alone a manufacturing business.
"We actually make attachments for machinery, so bobcats and excavators," Wright says.
"The easiest way for women to understand it is we accessorise machinery, so machinery can't do a hell of a lot unless it has our attachments on the end.
"We have five manufacturing facilities around the world and we are supplying an extensive dealer network."
Digga, which in 2008 acquired the then struggling Kanga Loaders to protect its supply chain during economic uncertainty, has since undertaken extensive investment in offshore markets.
The company employs about 220 staff in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, South Africa and its most recent facility in North America.
"We opened our American facility two and a half years ago and we built the factory from the ground up," says Wright who based herself in the US to help establish the facility.
"We selected Iowa, three hours west of Chicago, so we could get a little bit of city when we needed but still right in the middle of America.
"It's very different from the Gold Coast - right now it is minus 26 degrees in Iowa."
Wright is passionate about the future of Digga and the manufacturing industry in Australia, with her children also getting involved in the family business.
"I'm starting programs for young people to get them involved in manufacturing from a young age," she says.
"We actually took grade six students from an all-boys school to the factory and showed them all the different roles they could do.
"They didn't all have to be doctors and lawyers, there are actually other roles out there.
"I'm very passionate about manufacturing and keeping it in Australia, so there are jobs for the future of our kids."
Other International Women's Day recipients include:
- Patron Award: Adrienne Brougham, U3A Queensland
- Global Creative Thinking: Jane Rushton, personal trainer, Pilates instructor and life coach
- Global Entrepreneurialism & Innovation: Margie Baldock, property developer and author
- Global Charitable Endeavour: Kobe Steele, Orangutan Foundation
- Global Community Endeavour: Tani Stubbs, raised $1 million for schools in Tonga
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