Most Powerful Women in Australian Consumer Electronics

By Patrick Avenell

In a new series, senior journalist Patrick Avenell takes a look at the most powerful and successful women in Australian consumer electronics. Today, we profile the heads of two leading suppliers and the CEO of a very vocal lobby group.

Wivina Chaneliere: managing director, Groupe SEB Australia

After emigrating from France in 1995, Chaneliere worked as the marketing manager for Philips small domestic appliances. She joined Groupe SEB in 2001 as marketing director and then assumed the top job in 2005. The Australian business has grown more than 6-fold in that time, and the now-permanent resident hasn’t looked back. When asked for her greatest professional influences, Chaneliere said her bosses, her staff and her buyers.

“It’s been amazing,” she told Current.com.au. “A lot of people have been here since I first came on board – it’s been a great journey.”

Robin Parkes: chief executive officer, Freeview

Very few individuals have experienced meteoric rises like Freeview boss Robin Parkes. A double-MBA graduate in marketing, Parkes has had a stellar 15-year career in management and marketing, including stints as general manager of Ogilvy & Mather, managing director GfK and COO of law firm Thomson Playford Cutlers. Parkes is now the boss of industry lobby group Freeview, which is currently promoting a range of TVs and set-top boxes that comply with the free-to-air TV ideal. Parkes is circumspect about her success, saying that she’s never felt hindered during her rise.

“It’s a tough industry, regardless of your gender. I don’t think gender’s a big issue, it’s never been a big issue for me: I never encountered any glass ceilings,” she said.

Robbee Minicola: chief executive officer, Hybrid TV Services (TiVo)

The brash and energetic Minicola is one of the true characters of this industry. Unafraid to speak her mind, Minicola took over TiVo’s distribution after a disastrous launch and almost single-handedly turned around its bad reputation. After growing up on military bases throughout the US, Minicola settled in Australia in 1986. Her previous experience includes work for the Seven Network, mNet and her own business ventures. Some doubts may persist over the long term viability of TiVo, but the American-born boss is certainly held in high regard by her peers.

"I would hope that the example I set in my career persuades other women to pursue executive positions, but more importantly, to retain who they are instead of adapting their behaviour to what they believe is a ‘man’s world’,” she said.

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