PASSING OF A BRILLIANT BUSINESS LEADER
Digga CEO loses fight with cancer
Tributes to Digga CEO Suzie Wright, who passed away recently after a battle with cancer
TO CEO Suzie Wright, a fire that destroyed Digga’s Yatala factory was a “great team building exercise”.
But to her 160 staff, the way she handled the aftermath of the devastating blaze was nothing short of miraculous.
The passionate champion of Australian manufacturing, who pulled the leading Gold Coast manufacturer through incredible challenges, will be farewelled today after losing her fight with ovarian cancer. She was 49.
Her greatest challenge came in March 2016 when a fire melted equipment and caused tens of millions of dollars in damage.
Ms Wright told the Bulletin in 2016 that when she first heard of the blaze she did not think too much of it.
“I said to the firey ‘How quick can I get the boys back working?’
“He had this big smile on his face. He said: ‘You know what? You should call your insurance company’.”
Ms Wright said her aim was to get the factory back in action as soon as possible.
Another manufacturing facility was found on nearby Link Drive and workers were put up in demountables, with Digga manufacturing from its new base within days.
“I had shipments to meet. It was not an emotional thing for me. I react best under pressure,” she said nine months after the fire.
Ms Wright died last Friday after battling a rare form of ovarian cancer for 15 months.
A statement from Yatalabased Digga, which makes machinery attachments such as buckets for earthmoving vehicles, said the company had lost a “vigorously passionate and intelligent woman”.
“The Australian manufacturing community has lost its greatest advocate and the world has lost a compassionate and amazing human being,” the statement read.
“No words can adequately express our sadness at Suzie’s death or our gratitude for the opportunity to work with her over the past 21 years.”
Ms Wright was born and raised on the Gold Coast and worked in her father’s contracting and construction business, where she gained handson experience in construction piling and other skills, for more than 15 years.
She joined Digga in the mid-1990s and was appointed CEO in 2004 at the age of 35. The company was founded by her ex-husband Stewart Wright in 1981.
A passionate champion of Australian manufacturing, Ms Wright told the Bulletin in 2016 that if she had a spare $1 million, she would invest in the industry.
“I totally believe in it and am passionate about it,” she said.
“I’m involved with Griffith University’s Advanced Design and Manufacturing Institute and, with this facility (Digga’s factory at Yatala), we’ll help people to go into manufacturing. If we lose our trades they are gone forever.”
As well as leading the company following the fire, the Digga statement lists the consolidation of its Australian operations, rescuing and successfully integrating Kanga Loaders into the Digga business, and establishing a large manufacturing plant in the US as her greatest achievements.
“She was heading a global company in what was, predominantly, classified as a man’s industry,” the statement goes on to say.
“Inspiring women globally, she paved the way for other females at Digga and throughout the industry to take on roles that were traditionally seen as being for men.”
Ms Wright is survived by her husband Alan Wade, daughter Zoe Davies and son Liam Wright.
Mr Wright will remain as chairman, Mr Wade will step into the CEO position of Digga Group and Peter Moody will remain as chief operating officer.
It is understood a private funeral for family will be held today and a celebration of Ms Wright’s life on June 23.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details of the public celebration.
Former Digga CEO Suzie Wright, who lost her battle with ovarian cancer last week, will be remembered as a strong and inspirational leader.