No Barrier to Entry

Melissa Barry is passionate about her family, their business, and accessing untapped talent pools by encouraging people from new demographics not associated with the transport and logistics industries.
Melissa Barry with her husband Jason.

Alongside her husband Jason, Melissa Barry owns and operates Border Crane Consultants which is based in Albury/Wodonga on the border of Victoria and New South Wales.

The company was established in 2011 with just one employee and now employs 45 people. Melissa has an extensive background in business management, marketing, human resources, finance, compliance, and safety, as well as quality assurance and administration.

Prior to the family operation, Melissa worked in various roles within transport, manufacturing, local government, defence, and the construction sectors.

“I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up,” she says. “I finished school, enrolled in university, completed a business degree and never really wanted to own a business, yet here I am.”

In addition to her Bachelor’s degree Melissa holds a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment, as well as a heavy rigid truck licence and a forklift operator’s licence.

Following university Melissa found herself working in industries which were typically male-dominated with just perhaps a few females working in administration roles or as process workers.

Prior to joining Border Crane Consultants full-time, Melissa worked for a bus operator where the average driver was a male aged 58, and there were very few female drivers.

“For our own business to really grow and become an employer of choice we needed to look at our diversity strategy and identified that we had some gaps to fill,” she says.

“We have been on that journey for quite some time. We had some staff who were probably a bit apprehensive to some changes we wanted to make, so that was a journey itself to overcome some of those barriers”.

Buzz words abound in the politically correct space involving employee recruitment and are too frequently dismissed for not being applicable to particular industries.

Melissa utilises some clever analogies to better explain the differences between diversity, inclusion and belonging.

“Diversity is having a seat at the table, inclusion is having a voice and belonging is having that voice heard. Or, to put it another way: Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance and belonging is feeling free to dance however you want.”

Melissa is a strong believer in businesses having a genuine commitment to not only look beyond their recruiting norms but also to ensure the culture within the business is capable of supporting a diverse workforce in an on-going situation.

“It’s all well and good to have quotas in your business and tick off a couple of boxes and hit those stats, but moving on and delving further into that, how do we actually create that sense of inclusion and belonging within our businesses and workshops?” she asks.

Jason and Melissa have put the strategies into practice and are apparently delighted with the results.

“My passion has been, and still is, women in trades. Our business is a trade business, and all our workshop technicians were male and now I’m happy and proud to say that we do have a female apprentice, she’s not our first but she’s kicking some amazing goals in our business,” she says.

“We are really happy with how she is tracking.”

Melissa champions the benefits of incorporating diversity into recruitment and the resulting gains in problem solving and creativity in different perspectives. The bottom line can also benefit due to reduced rates of employee turnover because staff have a sense of belonging and loyalty and a higher level of engagement with the business.

“Someone with no sense of belonging is never going to contribute back to your business,” she says.

“In any business, if you are recruiting the same type of people with the same thought patterns and processes and experiences in life, then you are going to continually come up with the same outcomes.”

Melissa acknowledges that there can be unconscious bias influencing recruitment decisions by making preconceptions about a potential employee’s age, race, skin colour, gender or cognitive abilities.

Unconscious bias and stereotypes can influence how we think and feel about people according to Melissa.

“Shortcuts use information from previous experience. Unfortunately, our brains make assumptions and take shortcuts through having stereotypes,” she says.

“It’s human nature but the good thing about understanding these is once we know that’s our brain’s way of operating, we can be more aware of it and make better decisions about potentially not overlooking someone’s resume and making the wrong assumption based on they might have had a short gap in their employment history because maybe they’ve had some poor mental health, or had to care for a family member.”

Neurodivergent people typically have corresponding strengths.

Those who have difficulty with maths and numbers (dyscalculia) often have superior verbal skills and can be innovative in finding solutions to practical problems. People with dyslexia typically have good reasoning skills and are great visual thinkers.

People with autism, despite difficulties with communication and sometimes with social skills, are known to have great attention to detail, impressive memory capabilities, deep focus and divergent thinking.

“All things any employer would want in their business,” says Melissa.

“Just because they’re neuro diverse and there may be a barrier, the other things they can bring to the team, to the business, to the workshop, are generally really great skills which are highly sought after in technicians.”

Melissa’s contributions to raising the awareness of the potentials associated with diversity have been acknowledged through her receiving a Driving Change Diversity Program scholarship supported by Transport Women Australia Limited and Daimler Truck and Bus Australia in 2021.

Melissa was also named a Teletrac Navman Diversity Champion in that same year by the Australian Trucking Association.

She continues to provide significant influence upon the industry and became a member of the board of NatRoad in 2023.

“Road transport is the backbone of our nation, and I’m enthusiastic about contributing to its growth and prosperity,” Melissa says of her appointment to the board.

“I’ve witnessed the challenges and opportunities in transport and logistics first-hand, and I am confident that together, we can drive real change for the benefit of our members and the sector at large.”

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