The Fearless Females Of Essendon Fields 2024

In celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD) on Friday 8 March, we shine a spotlight on the contribution which four female leaders who work at Essendon Fields are making to their profession and to our community. We hope their stories will inspire everyone, but especially young women.


Michelle Quadara, Parts and Distribution Associate, Textron Aviation | The opportunity to grow is endless

Michelle has worked at Essendon Fields Airport for an incredible 22 years and loves the working environment.

“I love being at the airport and I have seen Essendon Fields grow so much over the last 22 years,” she said.

Initially working at Crabtree Aviation (CA) for 18 years looking after their accounts, Michelle then transferred into a diverse accounts and stores role with Hangar 1 and 2 based GAM Group when they purchased CA. She also worked part-time for Shortstop Jet Charter in Hangar 6 as a flight attendant for 15 years on the famous Gooney Bird.

When Textron Aviation, a US based company also at Essendon Fields Airport, first approached Michelle for a role with them, she was hesitant.

“I’m a stayer, as shown by my tenure at Crabtree Aviation. But moving to Textron has been the best thing ever. Textron make things that fly, hover, zoom and launch. I have an amazing, supportive boss and the opportunity to grow and further myself is endless as there are so many opportunities within the company,’’ she said.

“We are the Australian distributor for Cessna, Beechcraft and King Air parts and send all over the world from South Africa, Czech republic, Asia. We support MROs (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul businesses) and customers with aircraft parts mainly in the APAC region.’’

Michelle is happy to admit she’s in her 50s and wasn’t afraid to make a career change at her age. She also very proud of juggling her career and bringing up two children as a single mum. Her recommendation on International Women’s Day to young women is to seriously consider a career in aviation.

“I would definitely recommend this industry as you get to meet a lot of people, there are endless opportunities to work overseas at different airports, and the atmosphere is amazing.”


Samantha Bruno, Head of People & Culture at LaManna Melbourne | Become a good listener.

Samantha has had an unusual career path to end up in a leading Human Resources role, but one that has helped equip her with the skills to build strong relationships in her workplace.

Growing up in a small country town in East Gippsland, Samantha moved to Melbourne to originally study Early Childhood Education, where she spent the first 25 years of her career.

“I had some amazing experiences leading and managing teams in early childhood education, piloting education programs for not only Victoria but also for a national curriculum for the early childhood industry. I had the privilege of working with and being mentored by some amazing leaders and that’s actually how I came across this role at LaManna. I believe it marries nicely with all the skills and experience that I had acquired over the last 25 years,’’ she said.

Samantha started at LaManna Melbourne in 2015 and today couldn’t be happier helping the famous Essendon Fields’ based retailer, which now employs nearly 300 staff, keep growing each year.

“Human Resources is about people, it’s really that simple. Although as we know this can be complicated at times as people can be complex. It sounds crazy, but how we used to apply learning for children its actually the same for adults. Regardless of our age, we want to be involved, we want to feel valued and safe, we want to have a say in things that affect us and we want to be informed and most importantly have a voice,’’ she said.

“At LaManna we want a successful business and we appreciate that our team are at the forefront and so my role is to make sure everyone is feeling supported, happy, cared for and wanting to make our customers feel that same way. That’s our point of difference, care and kindness in everything we do, even if that means making difficult decisions.’’

Samantha has some simple advice for young women looking to build a career in HR – become a good listener.

“Remember that people should be your first priority because when you have a happy engaged team then your job becomes easier. Learn how to be a good listener and ‘assume good intent’. Ask the right questions and share your time with kindness and care. Take the time to get to know your team, there is nothing more valuable than building a strong relationship with the people you work with.’’


Ashley Young, Facilities Manager, Essendon Fields | Explore degrees or tertiary qualifications

Ashley joined the Essendon Fields Facilities Management team in June 2022, bringing with her a diverse background that involved working everywhere from the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre to the Melbourne Showgrounds.

“My remit within the Essendon Fields Facilities Management team is soft services, which means maintaining a high standard of estate presentation and managing landscaping and cleaning contracts for the entire 305ha precinct. Whilst these are my number one priority, no day is the same and can involve a range of things like planning, scoping, finance, problem solving or delivering on projects,’’ she said.

“Essendon Fields is a great place to work, and my short commute each day is certainly a win! Our strategy towards F being a beautiful place sees me work alongside our horticultural partners Green By Nature on ideas and projects that align with this vision. Seeing the work come together and the spaces being enjoyed by visitors and tenants is really rewarding and something I’m really passionate about.”

On International Women’s Day, Ashley hopes to see diversity in Facilities Management and encourages encourages younger women entering her profession to explore degrees or tertiary qualifications that can support their ambitions.

“While facilities management has historically been a male-dominated career, female representation is certainly growing, and it has changed a lot since I started back in 2006. There are now courses and degrees that help to support entry into the industry and more roles that don’t require a technical trade background.’’


Rebecca Peat – State Manager (Victoria and Tasmania) Energy, Ports and Projects for Blue Water Shipping | Seize the opportunities

Rebecca had to show her focus and resilience when she first joined Blue Water Shipping in 2020 when the company established an Oceania base. For the first year she worked from home as the company’s only employee in Victoria.

However, soon the business grew and after that first year the company opened a small office at Essendon Fields, meaning Rebecca could enjoy the company of other employees and all the amenities offered by the precinct.

“We have gone from strength to strength since moving to Essendon Fields,’’ Rebecca said.

“I have been working in Supply Chain and Logistics for nearly 30 years. When I initial joined Blue Water Shipping I was heavily focused on growing Australia’s east coast Business Development. I was given the opportunity to manage both the Victorian and Tasmanian branches in 2021, which has been a fantastic opportunity for me.’’

Rebecca loves her job which she says is always interesting.

“I thoroughly enjoy working with my customers and providing them with the solutions they need to deliver their projects. I have an amazing team that supports me in providing the best possible outcomes for my customers.’’

Rebecca has some simple advice for women looking to join what has traditionally been a male dominated industry – seize the opportunities.

“Logistics is an ever-evolving industry and with the growing ‘e-commerce’ method of shopping there will always be a need for what we do. I would highly recommend females to consider supply chain logistics as a career path as there are many opportunities and paths to explore,’’ she said.

“This industry has traditionally been a male dominant sector, but this is changing with every year that passes.’’


Read more stories about inspiring women in the Essendon Fields community: