If you thought Jenny was the quiet, retiring type, read on!
Jenny was born in Miranda, a suburb of Sydney.  Her Dad worked shifts as an electrical engineer, and her Mum became wardrobe mistress for JC Williams.  Jenny spent much of her childhood backstage at theatres, mingling with such celebrities as Joan Sutherland, John Meillon and Margot Fonteyn.  Jenny remembers John Meillon, dressed as an ugly sister, tripping across to the pub opposite Her Majesty’s Theatre in his crinoline for a quick drink.
 
Jenny’s parents had a strong belief in education, and she travelled by ferry to Endeavour High School.  One Monday morning, the hungover ferry operators grounded it on a sandbank – the teachers thought her excuse was the result of an overactive imagination.
 
She finished her schooling in Camden, and was able to indulge her love of horses.  She became a research assistant at Sydney University, and then went to Agricultural College.  That’s where she met Peter, who was managing a dairy farm.  
 
After graduation, she worked at the Sydney University with vets specializing in large animals – not just horses, but circus animal, eagles, snakes and so on.  Her duties were everything from theatre nurse to cleaning to “holding animals that didn’t want to be held” while vets treated them.  
 
While here, Jenny did a three year personnel management course at TAFE.  
 
She encountered wonderful, inspiring bosses, who improved conditions for workers and had their full loyalty and cooperation. These bosses improved safety, morale, productivity and profit for their companies.
 
She also graphically described the opposite culture, where workers were exploited, and fork-lift drivers in particular had on-the-job fringe benefits.   The culture in these companies was toxic, with appalling safety statistics, low morale and declining profitability.
 
Jenny described Pete as her “anchor”, following her jobs and moving every 2 ½ years of their marriage.  This included moves to the Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia.  
 
PNG was dangerous, and she always travelled with an armed guard. In one incident, her vehicle was attacked and a machine gun summarily despatched some machete wielding thugs.  She learned that the native Papuans envy the possessions of their Western colleagues - they are never able to accumulate goods because of their culture of compulsory sharing with the extended family.
 
Jenny was involved with HR on the Lane Cove Tunnel project, where 300 new employees were engaged in just 3 months.  The culture of that 4 year project was to invest in the employees, keep them safe, and be a workplace they wanted to work in.  As a result, productivity was excellent, industrial conflict minimal and profits maximised.
 
Jenny went from project to project, including building the City of Dreams Casino in Macau.  Her final job was as general manager of human relations for John Holland. When she was offered a retirement package, Jenny took it, and retired to their farm in Berry.
 
Six months later, Peter was diagnosed with prostate cancer, so his recovery became Jenny’s focus.  Now, six years on, he is well, with no sign of cancer.  
 
Retirement didn’t suit Jenny, and she set up a consultancy and did some work with Waratah Trains and Yarra Trams.  When subdivisions came to their Berry farm, the moved to Bairnsdale, and Jenny is now working with East Gippsland Water.  
 
Julie picked her lower jaw up off the floor, and thanked Jenny for her talk – from “a quiet, little old woman who stays at home with her horses and knits” to indomitable and unstoppable in one short presentation!  Four years working at the Truth newspaper had not prepared Julie for an expose on life at Steggles! 
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