The 2021 Women in Defence Awards will (finally!) take place on 01 February following several postponements. The event will be held virtually due to the current public health situation in eastern Australia.

Ahead of the event, we are proud to introduce our readers to the amazing finalists across nine categories. Today we are focusing on the finalists in the Rising Star category.

Lieutenant Commander Rebecca Grace Avila of Royal Australian Navy
During 2020, then lieutenant Avila was performed two jobs - FFGSPO Logistics Manager and lead logistician in the Foreign Military Sale (FMS) Project of FFGs; the Navy’s single largest FMS. As a LEUT performing a LCDR role, she achieved incredible results with a small team on limited time and resources. LCDR Avila had one senior supply chain sailor, an APS6 and a small handful of contractors to reinvigorate two ageing and de-stored FFGs, and deliver two operationally ready vessels for the Chilean Armada. Which she succeeded. Rebecca demonstrated a high level of initiative by establishing interagency cooperation, strong workplace relationships and effective communications with stakeholders to ensure clear and efficient dissemination of the Project’s requirements, limitations and timeframes.

Private Victoria Waid of Australian Army
Joining Army in 2018 as a reservist, whilst undergoing her initial training, Victoria was concurrently completing a double degree in a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Global Studies. She has participated in a range of courses and training opportunities including Exercise Talisman Sabre. Victoria speaks publicly about her time in Australian Army Reserves at every opportunity through a number of organisation including her time competing at the 2020 Superbikes World Championships prior to deploying on two domestic operations; Operation Bushfire Assist and Operation COVID-19 Assist.
Towards the end of 2020 after a disrupted year Private Waid deployed to Sydney whereby she was involved in the Defence Force Recruiting “I am a Hero” campaign, which is set to air during 2021. In this role, she championed diversity for both gender and cultural representation being of Egyptian background.

Bilin Zhou of Boeing Defence Australia
As a systems engineer working on the Loyal Wingman Airpower Teaming systems (ATS) program, Zhou was proud to see the aircraft make its first flight last year. Zhou worked with a small team focused on the ‘central nervous system’ of the ATS, working to integrate the complex subsystem into the wider product, resolving a wide range of technical issues across hardware and firmware, ensuring engineering quality.
Zhou was also the Chair and leader of Boeing Australia’s volunteer driven organisation, REACH Australia, which focuses on engaging employees through continuous learning and development, building networks and local community engagement. In 2020, while in the second year of her tenure as Chair, Zhou stood up REACH at three new sites and led the first virtual, Australia-wide employee Hackathon, addressing Boeing’s Future of Work challenges all during the CVOID affected year.

Madeline Bonfini of RD Consulting
Madeline’s overarching role with Army is delivering communication strategy and advice. She is the communication team lead for Career Management - Army, where she has worked in collaboration with the branch to overhaul its communication channels as part of a broader all-encompassing communication strategy revamp. She delivers a broad range of communication products and services, including design work, writing articles, driving the use of ForceNet, producing videos for internal and external audiences, supporting the Director General and Future Plans team in committee presentations and enhancing SharePoint to establish a consistent internal platform for increased transparency and accessibility of information.

Olivia Blight of Rheinmetall Defence Australia
Olivia is a Mechanical Design Engineer for Rheinmetall Defence Australia (RDA). Her role involves design and fabrication of the Land 400 Phase 3 LYNX vehicle, specifically the manufacture of the vehicles’ infrastructure and external modules. She is in charge of the design for the vehicle jigs used during the assembly, welding and machining phases.
Olivia has been nominated for the award because of her commitment to her work, but also her endeavours to promote women in STEM and corporate, outside of the office. Olivia entered into Rheinmetall as a graduate, and on several occasions has demonstrated her ability as a positive role model and spokesperson for females in defence and engineering.

Thanks to all our sponsors: SYPAQ, Penten, Airbus, BGIS, Boeing, Leidos, Precision Public Affairs and Ventia.


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