Think HBR

Women in business cover women



Lyndell Fogarty is co-founder and CEO of performHR, a fast growing outsourced HR and ER company that is ‘çhanging the way HR is done’. Whilst there head office is here in the Hunter, their client footprint extends to every capital city of Australia and their team footprint extends the full length of the east coast. The team is now 32 and growing quickly – the future is exciting, to have achieved this to date, and Lyndell believes they are only getting started.
One of the things Lyndell loves is there is no typical day for the business. The variety of clients and business relationships formed enables her to be involved in a wide variety of initiatives. As the team has grown, her own focus has shifted from being hands on with clients to now leading the team. She says one of the greatest joys is that they are writing the way HR can be delivered, and get to be innovative in everything they do through challenging the status quo. Lyndell’s days consist of extending their brand reach, mentoring the team, stretching the team in terms of their own growth and liaising with clients to ensure the business is adding value in everything they do – after ensuring her daughters get to school on time!
Lyndell had thought she was going to be an accountant – her undergraduate degree was in Finance and Economics and her first job offer was with one of the current Big 4 on their grad program. She turned it down, however, and moved her focus into HR. Lyndell found that the balance of pragmatism and creativity energised her and she was fortunate to work in a national organisation undertaking organisational wide business re-engineering. In her first five years in HR, Lyndell worked with some great specialists in their field in a very challenging change environment that consisted of a combination of blue and white collar employees – this broad experience has shaped the way she approaches HR today.
She says she has also been fortunate to work with both some strong leaders and terrible leaders – both have shaped her. There are some strong role models locally and Lyndell considers herself fortunate to collaborate with many – she learns something every day from the people she surround herself with.
When considering challenges, Lyndell says she is definitely a glass half full personality. There were challenges, and continue to be challenges in creating, building and leading a business. Some of these included building a brand in an infantile market – the buyer didn’t know they needed our services. Another challenge was funding – how to grow a business from a conceptual idea born over a cup of tea in Lyndell’s lounge room.
Lyndell says “Any business and business person has challenges to face, but it is how we respond to them. One of the things that has worked for me is to surround myself with inspiring business leaders, particularly other woman who understand the juggle between raising three children and a love of family with the desire to excel at what they do and contribute to the local community more broadly whilst not losing their own identity.
“There are some wonderful local woman business leaders, however, as a community we need to continue to promote females into more leadership roles. Progress has been made, we are definitely moving forwards.”
For other women starting out, Lyndell advises that some days are just going to be hard, however, they need to make their vision so beautiful, so enticing that the joy and energy that this creates is far greater than the challenges. The other piece of advice is to not make excuses for being who you are. “You don’t have to play down your brilliance in order to make another feel better. If we all shine the light of possibility and encourage each other, we can make the world a better place for all.”
Lyndell hopes that the region will continue to blend the traditional markets with the new emerging ones.
“There is strength in our heritage of mining and manufacturing, let’s celebrate this. However, at the same time we need to look to the future and continue to evolve and encourage investment (both dollars and access to advice) for start ups and scale ups.”


Kari Armitage is Managing Director of Quarry Mining & Construction Equipment Pty Ltd, a business that was established in 1983. After having just three or four staff from 1983 to 2006, the business grew substantially in the following 10 years to include 40 staff, in-house manufacturing, engineering design and drafting, fitting, mining and tunnelling and R&D departments.
Kari’s typical day starts at around 4.30 am with a few emails and making breakfast and lunch, followed by an hour or so at the gym or walking along the beach. From 7.30 am to 5.30 pm, Kari is at the office with meetings, team liaison, a quick review of production and despatch scheduling, answering customer technical queries, invoice and other expenditure approvals, and several hundred emails! From 6 to 7.30 pm, it is back to home, cooking dinner, helping her 7 year old with her homework and reading a bedtime story. Some awesome days she might fit a mountain bike ride in around this time. After this, it is a bit more work at home and off to bed around 10 pm.
That’s about as “typical” as it gets – but, it is a rare week that Kari does not end up in Sydney or Mackay or Mudgee or China or Wollongong or anywhere else at some stage.
Before joining Quarry Mining in 2006, Kari spent 10 years at engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB). Her parents had run Quarry Mining as a small, successful on-seller of mining and construction equipment. Apart from themselves, they employed a storeman and a rep in Mackay. Kari’s dad is a great big picture man and her mum worked miracles keeping the business finances and administration going. They asked Kari to come and give them a hand, saying they needed some systems put in to place. Kari’s dad said there were three things they needed - a sales rep who had underground experience, their own CNC machine and to stop paying rent! Today Quarry Mining has eight sales reps, 40 staff, six sheds, 11 CNC machines and two robots.
Kari says she had a fantastic, varied and challenging career at PB in Civil Engineering design and project management. She had the opportunity to work with many amazing people and they supported her through her MBA. Without both that experience and that of the MBA Kari is sure role today would not be possible. The two jobs were not really similar in content but the experience and exposure to mentors that PB gave was invaluable.
Kari is inspired by the fantastic local mining and manufacturing industry full of amazing people. There are quite a few people she find inspirational or looks to for help or mentoring outside of her own team. Kari also considers herself very lucky to attend some great networking functions through Hunternet and Rescue Helicopter events. She has met a lot of the region’s leaders and continues to be awestruck by them. Kari says it is impossible to name all those who motivate her but there is Tony Cade, Katie Brassil and businesses like Hedweld and DSI that do great things right here in the Hunter. She also finds the Quarry Mining management team and her lawyer, Melanie Wilde (who tries not to work here full time) amazing.
Kari admits she faced quite a few challenges when starting out. Mining and manufacturing are of course male dominated fields. It’s slowly changing and gender barriers are less and less. Some of the big decisions that have kept her awake at night include:
• Taking the leaps to buy property and machines
• Putting trust in key people to move the business forward
• Managing and keeping staff challenged
• Balancing home life and work life
• Getting people to realise she knew what she was talking about technically. Some people are great, some will never believe her.
The things that Kari particularly likes about her work are that she can make decisions quickly, there are new exciting opportunities coming all the time and the development of new products. She also enjoys being involved with the University and meeting people t that are inventing new products.
For women setting out on a similar career path, Kari advises that you need lots of energy, don’t expect to have much free time and to make the most of each minute of each day. She says it is hard work but the rewards are worth it
For the future, Kari hopes that the Hunter will more and more celebrate and support all areas of manufacturing, continue to innovate and mentor younger generations and new business starters.
Although Kari is a successful businesswomen, she did have a secret ambition - she always wanted to be a Knights cheerleader!


Lyn Thurham says she resides in many worlds, wearing many hats as we all do. Apart from the many important family and friend roles, Lynn is Managing Director of Thurnham Teece, Chair of Hunter Life Education, Deputy Chair of Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (NSW), Advisory Board Member of 2NURFM and National Board member of Life Education Australia.
Thurnham Teece Pty Ltd is a marketing, advertising PR company, established in 1988 by Warwick Teece and Lyn. Warwick was her partner until he passed away in 2012. The company has enjoyed good growth, and, as one would expect has evolved over the years with the changing nature of the media and marketing arena.
There is no typical day for Lyn as the business works nationally, internationally as well as here in the region. She could be in Darwin rolling out a new initiative in a shopping centre or devising a national health campaign, doing PR for a Disney on Ice show in Wollongong, or working on a new product roll out via a digital and social media campaign for termite treatment. Lyn craves the diverse nature of what her industry provides.
Professional development of herself and all her team is important to keep ahead of the curve, to stimulate everyone to learn, and achieve great things for themselves, their clients and their communities. Lyn is currently brushing up by doing a Master of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which she finds both enjoyable and practical as it cascades well into her real job.
Lyn says that the region has been generous to her, allowing her to build Thurnham Teece into a successful company and in turn support the not for profit organisations she is fiercely invested in.
Although she has had some amazing colleagues in my business life, the one who stands out is her partner Warwick Teece who contributed so much to her industry and was remarkably talented as a radio presenter, creative writer, husband and father. In his honour Lyn and her son Andrew have launched The Catfish Foundation which will be dedicated to supporting young creatives, as well as selected charities.
Like every business person, Lyn says she has had challenges and disappointments in business but considers that the learning that comes with challenges and disappointments is valuable and motivating (eventually).
Lyn is also very positive about the future of the region, saying “The Hunter is vibrant and there are huge opportunities currently and into the future. We’ve developed world class organisations like the John Hunter Hospital, HMRI, the University of Newcastle, the manufacturing and mining industries which just don’t give up even in challenging times!
“We are innovators, we are resilient, we’ve known good times and not so good times. If we continue to keep our bright young people here, offer support and job prospects and build a region of innovation and creativity we’ll have a superb future.
“As for the small businesses like mine- we have to be as courageous as big business, collaborate so we’re not left behind and be confident. Confidence is contagious!”
Behind the scenes, Lyn says she does have a few secrets. “I’d love to be a writer, actress or musician and I can eat an enormous amount of lentil chips.”