Team Meeting

May 2021

On Leadership and Local Indusrty

Emma Townsend, AGITO's CEO, spoke with Lindy Hughson from PKN News about her vision for AGITO, the future of local manufacturing and women in leadership.

You’ve been in the packaging and processing industry for over 15 years. What have been your main career highlights?  

When I started my career in packaging I was heavily involved in reusable packaging and closed loop supply chain analysis. It has been a real highlight to see reusable packaging become prevalent across more industries, and to see consumers adopt and even demand a more sustainable approach to packaging.  

  

But the biggest highlight for me has been the relationships I have developed across the industry – I have met passionate inventors, entrepreneurs, storytellers, technical experts – all willing to share their knowledge and help me develop my skills. These relationships have pushed, carried, and guided me to where I am today in both my career and the industry.  

You’re one year into the role of CEO, a year in which the pandemic would have challenged your business. How did Agito fare, and what is your vision going forward? 

 

My first year as CEO has been incredibly satisfying and has also involved a lot of learning – but I have fantastic colleagues and a strong support network who have all played a part in guiding me. Over the last twelve months, industries like e-commerce and food and beverage have really accelerated, and they require partners who can deliver innovative automation solutions to meet increasing demand. AGITO works with a number of global customers in these industries, and we have been fortunate enough to secure a number of new projects which will be delivered through to December 2021. I am really excited for the future of the business – we are currently expanding our team so that we can sustainably grow and service the needs of our customers, and the future will include a higher level of export and offshore projects.  

" I like to think that by normalising equity in our workplace, we can have an impact on diversity and equality for both the team, the industry, and the broader community." 

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Post Covid, there’s a strong focus on a manufacturing reset from government and industry? What’s your view on the future of local manufacturing? 

AGITO have two manufacturing facilities in Australia and currently the majority of our work is in Australia, so we welcome the government’s recent initiatives to modernise and scale up manufacturing here. The pandemic has highlighted disruption on certain supply lines and recent trade tensions with China. However, this has only served to confirm that Australia needs a solid manufacturing industry, so that we can innovate and develop new products and income streams and retain a level of economic independence.  I was disappointed to see Karen Andrews leave the role of Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science - politics aside, Andrews had a keen understanding of the challenges faced by manufacturers and the merits of growing this industry. 

  

As a female CEO in a male-dominated industry, what are your goals for advancing women in leadership in Agito and more broadly in this industry? Where do you think the gaps lie when it comes to gender-based equality in the workplace? 

 

As CEO I don’t specifically focus on my gender. At AGITO, we aim for a level of diversity that stretches beyond gender to include skills, age, educational background. My role is to ensure that my whole team feels included and supported - I want everyone at AGITO to feel like they have the opportunity to advance their career, but to do so without missing out on having a life outside work and with a level of support that is tailored to suit their needs- so focusing on equity as well as equality. Promoting diversity at AGITO means advertising widely - often looking for people outside the industry, interviewing thoroughly - we won’t discount someone who has been out of the workplace for a time, and understanding the needs of the business - we always look for people with the right skills but who will fit into our culture. 

Being flexible with our working structure, open with our goals and KPIs for advancement and honest about the needs of the business fosters mutual respect within the team. I like to think that by normalising equity in our workplace, we can have an impact on diversity and equality for both the team, the industry, and the broader community. 

This article was first published in the May-June 2021 print issue of PKN Packaging News, p26.