Annastasia Denigan, 40, didn’t originally seek out a career in transport, but since joining the industry, her professionalism and dedication have been widely recognised – most recently with being named the Trucking Woman of the Year at the Queensland Trucking Association’s (QTA) annual awards.
A career safety and compliance professional, Denigan has held senior roles with companies that include Toll, DGL, Cement Australia and now QUBE, which she joined in September this year as East Coast HSEQ manager for the Bulk division.
Her foray into the transport sector started with an admin role at a refrigerated transport business in her hometown of Geelong when she was 20. Securing a role as national linehaul compliance manager at Toll Refrigerated brought her to Queensland, which she has called home ever since.
Upon joining the industry, Denigan quickly developed an interest in heavy vehicle accreditation, certification and on-road compliance and has enjoyed a career in that field that spans nearly two decades.
Reflecting back all these years on, did she ever expect her career would take her to where it has? In short, no.
“I started off in accounts and when I went along to the interview, I was offered the role with no experience. The industry wasn’t something I had considered but it’s something that’s in my blood now – and I think I’ll always be involved in the heavy vehicle industry in some aspect,” Denigan said.
“I love the variety of the work. No two days are the same. There are always different challenges and different opportunities. Not everyone understands the hard work behind the trucks they see on the road.
“Each and every single role I’ve had has been integral to my development; and every employer I’ve chosen to work for has always been supportive of my industry involvement. I’ve been extremely lucky in having roles that have exposed me to different areas. When I joined Cement Australia, they involved me across the whole business, not just the transport side, but across the entire manufacturing and supply chain. I started in health and safety when I joined DGL and that role gave me exposure to dangerous goods transport, which was an awesome opportunity as well,” she added.
“Now at Qube, I’m in an operational safety role. I wanted to get the boots back on the ground a bit more. It’s a really exciting opportunity and a great team to work for. What’s really exciting and challenging about this role is that on a day to day basis I can go from mines to cranes to transport and vessel unloading.”
Not one to slow down, Denigan is also almost halfway through completing her Executive MBA at Queensland University of Technology. “Qube has been absolutely fantastic and really supportive, which has enabled me to continue with my studies. I’ve definitely jumped in the deep end, having never had any university education she added.
To be recognised at the QTA awards was an absolute honour for Denigan. “So many past winners of the Trucking Woman of the Year award are women I’ve worked alongside for many years and who have really inspired me. To be nominated by Transport Women Australia Limited (TWAL) in the first place was really exciting. They are women I respect and who support my passion. Jacquelene Brotherton (TWAL Chair) has had such a positive impact on the industry and by supporting women like me she is setting up women like me for success. She has been my unofficial mentor and is someone I’ve been inspired by and reached out to regularly,” Denigan said.
“Winning an award like this is not something a lot of young women would aspire to, but it’s something that I have definitely. A lot of the past winners are the people I look to for inspiration. I’ve been able to transition from looking up to these women to now being able to rub shoulders with them.
“Awards like this celebrate hard work, commitment, passion and drive. In the past, I think the industry itself hasn’t always opened its arms warmly and celebrated successful women, so the fact that that this has been occurring is fantastic.”
Looking ahead, Denigan says she’s really excited about the innovation coming through in the industry, such as the use of AI for injury prediction and prevention, adding that Qube is looking to trial this sort of technology in the near future.
“Something that made Qube really attractive to me is its commitment to using technology to help drive better safety outcomes – such as the use of driver distraction cameras in cabs that detect eye movement and fatigue,” said Denigan.
“I would love to see some form of mandatory use of safety technology across the industry. It’s a lot harder for the smaller businesses that don’t have the available resources to help drive better safety outcomes through technology, but I think they need that support – especially when you see the results of the technology and see instances where it has actually saved someone’s life.
“I’ve seen the impacts and the ugly sides of road trauma. I think there are still a lot of people who don’t understand the consequences of how small decisions can be life changing when they get behind the wheel. It’s something as an industry professional I feel strongly about and will continue to promote.”