Meet the team

Steve Atherton


Steve holds a Bachelor of Science (Engineering) and a Master of Engineering Science degree from the University of NSW along with a practical trade background as a Fitter & Turner.


Steve has held the positions of Director and CEO at a number of prestigious Australian companies coupled with vast International experience in Asia, USA and Europe. Steve has been a speaker and expert panel member in the manufacturing sector on more than 25 occasions including speaking engagements for AIRAH and the Australian Federal Government. Steve is the Chairman of Southern Strength, Deputy Chairman of the Southern Sydney Business Education Network, Executive Member of Shire Biz, Steering Committee member of the ANSTO Innovation Hub and Graduate Institute along with advisory board positions with several local SMEs.

Jessica Uzelac

Medina Engineering Pty. Ltd., Treasurer

Jessica is the Financial Controller and a Director of Medina Engineering Pty. Ltd., an SME based in Chipping Norton. A family run business for over 45 years, Medina Engineering provides precision machining solutions to customers in a variety of manufacturing industries, delivering locally & around the world. Medina Engineering has been a proud member of Southern Strength since 2015.
Jessica has a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and Arts (International Studies) from UTS & has over 20 years of experience in the manufacturing industry. She understands the day to day challenges manufacturers are facing in our industry and is keen to contribute & problem solve in a strategic network. Jessica is a community Justice of the Peace and volunteers with local sport committees & fundraisers.

Kaylee Bunyan

The Youth Partnership, Public Office Secretary

Kaylee is the Business Development Assistant at The Youth Partnership, a non-for-profit organisation assisting young people transition from school to the work-force or further education. The Youth Partnership provides opportunities for young people to connect with employers in their chosen industry. The Youth Partnership has been a member of Southern Strength since 2012 with a vision to promote a career in manufacturing to students.


Passionate about providing students with the skills to enter the workforce, Kaylee’s vision is to partner manufacturing professionals with our next generation. Building strong relationships with professionals in manufacturing as well as schools in the Sydney region, allows Kaylee to promote these connections and learning opportunities. Today’s youth is tomorrow’s workforce.

Rebecca Wood

Sutherland Shire Council, Board member

Rebecca holds a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Marketing and Management and has a broad range of experience that includes facility and asset management, event management, project management, tenders and contracts, research and policy development, budget planning and revenue generation.


Rebecca currently holds the position of Manager Business,Sport and Community Services for Sutherland Shire Council. Rebecca has also served as a Board Member for Economic Development Australia NSW (EDA NSW), Cronulla Promotions Limited, Shirebiz, St George and Sutherland Community College (SGSCC) and Southern Sydney Business Education Network (SSBEN).

Nathan Spinner

Shorehire, Board Member

Nathan holds a Master of Engineering Management (MEM) from UTS. Nathan is also a technical expert representative on a range of Standards Australia Technical Committees, a member of Australian Industry Group (AIG); Water and Plumbing Products Cluster committee and is the Technical Coordinator for Industry association; Plumbing Products Industry Group (PPI Group).


With 21 years of experience in plumbing product manufacture Nathan’s current role includes leading a team of technical staff to deliver an Integrated HSEQ Management System in a fast paced and innovative manufacturing environment.


Nathan is experienced developing and managing relationships with; local and overseas suppliers, compliance and regulatory organisations, local and national industry groups, OEM customers and internal manufacturing and supply chain stakeholders.

Peter Gustafson

Australis Engineering, Board Member

Peter is Managing Director of Australis Engineering, a materials handling equipment manufacturer with capabilities in palletising, robotics, automation and conveyor systems based in south-west Sydney. His day to day responsibilities centre on safety, commercial management, marketing and business development. 


Wearing his BD hat he helped identify opportunities for hybrid manufacturing within a broadening of Australis’ business model and negotiated agency agreements to represent international brands here in Australia. Peter also negotiated local distribution channels for these brands and core Australis products. 


He has presented at domestic and international conferences both on manufacturing and environmental management and uses these skills to navigate export opportunities for Australis. Peter has a Masters in Environmental Management, a Bachelor of Science (Hons.) and is a Justice of the Peace and has held previous roles in international environmental consultancy and state government. He has voluntary board roles with community sports and industry groups.

Sharon Austin

Intelligent Recruitment, Board Member

Sharon Austin, founder and MD of Intelligent Recruitment has over 20 years’ experience as a successful business owner and Executive Search and Recruitment Consultant. This experience is preceded by qualifications in Electrical Engineering and 10 years at Garden Island Naval Dockyard as an Electrical Designer in their Engineering Office. Owning and managing three successful businesses herself, has instilled an understanding of the complexities and critical success factors of businesses. Sharon specializes in consulting to engineering and technical businesses with solid knowledge and experience in the manufacturing sector. She is passionate about promoting collaboration in the manufacturing sector and assisting organizations plan, recruit and manage their talent needs to ensure business strategy can be delivered.

Chris Guthrie

Liverpool City Council, Board member

Chris is currently Acting Manager City Economy with Liverpool City Council. In this position he has a key liaison role on major projects and developments within the Liverpool LGA, including the Western Sydney Airport development and the new Inglis Riverside Stables and William Inglis Hotel at Warwick Farm, as well as well as developments.


He has over 15 years’ experience in facilitating employment generating industry projects. His experience in this space is utilised by the Board to “open doors” in government and industry to enable growth opportunities for Southern Strength members.

Con Lyras

ANSTO, Board Member

Con has spent over forty years as an engineer working primarily in aviation and in the nuclear field. Con’s main focus since joining ANSTO has been to identify and implement change to ensure that the Engineering and Capital Programs team provides efficient, safe and cost effective support to the organisation. Con established the ANSTO project governance and project delivery office and is the Chair of the ANSTO Executive Committee Workplace Health & Safety & the Environment.


Con holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree, he is Chairman of the Board of PETTECH Solutions Australia, Chairman of the Board ANSTO Nuclear Medicine, is a member of the Australian Animal Health Laboratories Safety Assessment Group (ASAG), is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (MAICD) and a Member of the Institute of Engineers Australia (MIEAust).

Colin Johnsen

FJP Manufacturing, Board Member

Colin started his career as a toolmaker after leaving school in year 10. During his apprenticeship, he started a mechanical engineering course, which he completed at TAFE.


Colin completed an MBA at UTS in 1999 with an emphasis on Business Management, Human Resources Management and Strategic Management. With a passion for the Sheetmetal industry Colin sat as president of the Sheetmetal Industry Association (SIA) from 2000 to 2006, with the emphasis of raising the image of the Sheetmetal industry within schools and Government. Colin also sat on the board for the Institute for Trade Skills Excellence, becoming the Chair for the Metals and Engineering Industry Reference Group.

Charlie Pidcock

Charlie Pidcock Pty Ltd, Board Member

With his personable, ‘raw and real’ approach, Charlie demystifies the sales process and gets results.


He has 30 years’ experience in sales and business management in large and small businesses and in both mature and emerging markets. Thanks to this diverse experience, Charlie possesses a unique blend of strategic insight along with the practical realities of running teams and businesses. As a highly experienced Sales Manager, Charlie is renowned for developing teams that consistently grow sales, profit and market share.


Charlie has Bachelor of Financial Administration (UNE) and Master of Management (MGSM) degrees, but is equally proud of his Forklift Driver’s license, First Aid and Working at Heights certificates. Based in Sydney, Charlie works with companies throughout Australia, empowering their people and their growth.

Erin Haddad

Campbelltown City Council, Board Member

I am a highly motivated professional with demonstrated experience working with small and large businesses, in both a government and private capacity. I have a strong understanding of the political and private environments, with skills and experience in industry development, economic development, investment attraction and event management.


Prior to working in the government sector, I was a business development executive with more than 10 years’ experience in technical and retail sales, team leadership and subcontractor management across the construction and manufacturing sectors.


I help support business growth and nurture innovation by creating and implementing targeted activities and initiatives that support industry and enable economic growth. I am a collaborator and a problem solver, and I have strong relationships with key stakeholders across many industries.


My strong communication skills and the ability to foster trusting and productive relationships means I can connect businesses to each other, as well as potential pathway and partnership opportunities. I love to network and learn from others, so I can then share these insights to help businesses grow and develop.

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