Manager of the Year Award recipient Joe Rea addresses the audience at the Australian Institute of Management Excellence Awards.
Manager of the Year Award recipient Joe Rea addresses the audience at the Australian Institute of Management Excellence Awards. Contributed

Boyne Smelters manager wins top gong at national awards

GENERAL Manager for Boyne Smelters Ltd (BSL) Joe Rea has won the national Manager of the Year award at the Australian Institute of Management Excellence Awards 2015, held on Friday October 16 in Melbourne.

Taking out the Queensland title last month, Mr Rea lined up against seven other industry leaders in his category-the only finalist to represent regional Australia-to collect the event's flagship award on Friday night.

Judges for the award agreed Mr Rea was a rare leader among leaders showing transparency, competence and a great sense of humility.

Competing against state and territory finalists from a diverse range of industries including BHP Iron Ore, National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre, Australian Tax Office, Open Universities Australia and Retirement Benefits Fund, Mr Rea was selected for leading his workforce on a transformation journey to improve BSL's international competitiveness.

Joe Rea.
Joe Rea.

Judges acknowledged and celebrated his ability to drive significant change in a complex and challenging industry, which has led to his workforce delivering operational cost reductions nearing $100 million and a period of 365 consecutive safe days-the best result ever achieved at the smelter.

Mr Rea said he was honoured to represent over a thousand employees at Boyne Smelters.

"After years of facing market headwinds and making difficult decisions to remain competitive, it's a rare moment when you can take a breath and celebrate success on behalf of your team," he said.

"I want to do everything I can to retain manufacturing in Australia, especially for the future of our youth."

Starting as an apprentice in 1977 at the Weipa bauxite mine, Mr Rea steadily worked his way up, transferring to BSL in 1996 where he held a number of management roles before becoming GM of the site in 2012.

"I have an appreciation for what it's like on the floor. I'm keen to make a difference and get in and lend a hand where it's needed with the crews," he said.

"Generations of families have been employed at the smelter. You get to know them all.

"I feel our people have never been more proud to come to work."

Over the past three years, he has led Australia's BSL through a transformation journey to improve its productivity and international competitiveness.

Friday night's award recognised his commitment to building business resilience and leading his people through change.

"It was a humbling experience accepting the award, but gratifying at the same time considering how long we've been doing it tough. The award is an acknowledgement we can all share at BSL," Mr Rea said.

Pacific Aluminium CEO and President Bruce Cox offered his congratulations: "When you visit BSL you immediately see the positive impact Joe brings to his workforce. He inspires people to dig deeper and challenge themselves in ways they might have thought were impossible."

"He leads by example and has no hesitation helping out on the potlines or spending time tirelessly explaining the direction of the business to his people. He very much deserves this award."