Wendy Fennell

Company owner, business leader, B Double driver, truck puller

Wendy is managing director and co-owner of Fennell Forestry, one of the biggest timber harvest and transport company in South Australia's Green Triangle.

She leads a workforce of almost 80, overseeing all facets of the business, and in 2015 she was named Business Woman of the Year at the Women in Business and Regional Development Awards.

Wendy was the instigator of the annual Fennell Forestry Truck Pull Challenge which attracts teams from around Australia and raises money for children's charities.

Each year she harnesses up to help her company team drag a 23-tonne B Double truck 100 metres.

I studied accountancy at the University of South Australia, finishing the final year of my degree by correspondence from Mount Gambier.

I always wanted to be part of our family business. After finishing school, I took a gap year to work alongside my Dad in what was then a comparatively small operation employing about 15 people.

The following year I went to university in Adelaide but I'd travel back each week to work because it was useful to be involved in a real live business that related to my studies.

When I finished my degree I went straight back to working full time. Dad really wanted his sons involved but I kept pushing my way in.

I became a director in 1997 and in 2011 my brother Barry and I bought out our parents and managed the growing company together.

Early in 2016, we both attended a 12-month Business Growth Program at Uni SA and that helped us better define our individual roles. I subsequently became sole Managing Director and Barry took on the role of Executive Director of Business Development to focus on growth and innovation.

My advice is… don't use your gender as an excuse – and don't be afraid to acknowledge that women and men operate differently. I think personal characteristics are a greater barrier to career success than gender.

My smartest move was attending the Business Growth Program at Uni SA because we learned to better manage the business by working to our strengths. It gave us a lot more direction and structure to what we were doing.

I've learned that people are the most important part of any business and if you're going to lead, lead by example.

Quote: "Forestry has a great future. Timber is a renewable resource, it has neutral carbon footprint, and there's constant innovation. It's dynamic."

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