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Articles / O'Brien

Inspirational Women Working With O’Brien®

8 April 2021

Inspirational Women Working With O’Brien®

Every now and then we like to profile some interesting people from across the business. Today we’re focusing on some of our female leaders, so we spoke with some of the inspirational women working with O’Brien®.

When you hear the term ‘tradie’, especially in relation to plumbing, electrical, automotive or glazing – most people think of a male in that role. But that is changing. At O’Brien, we encourage diversity and are proud of the talented females who work here, in a variety of roles, including ‘tradies’! Adele Wardrope, Jodi Spooner and Vivian Oppl are just some of our amazing female leaders in the O’Brien® business, and here are their stories and experiences in O’Brien® Glass, O’Brien® AutoGlass and the Support Office.

Name: Adele Wardrope

Role: Glazing Branch Manager, Dandenong

Time at O’Brien: 10 months

Favourite pastime: Exploring, generally on horseback – and cooking!

What led you to join O’Brien?

I started my career 30 plus years ago as a windscreen technician at O’Brien as a fitter (after being rejected for an apprenticeship as an electrician). I always knew I wanted to work with my hands and build from there. I stayed in the industry for pretty much the entire time rising to General Manager of a smaller firm before leaving for another challenge. I was an Operations Manager in my new role but found my skills weren’t being utilized. I saw a position advertised as Melbourne Glazing Manager with O’Brien and thought “wouldn’t it be great if I were to bookend my career”?!

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I love the challenge of being able to bring a group together to be the best we can. Tapping into ‘what makes a person fulfilled’ is exciting but where you’re able to champion someone to be their best…that’s such a reward and a privilege to be part of. Each day brings something new, I like that.

What women support and inspire you on your career path?

Most women. Any woman who breaks stereotypical norms, who has passion, who chases a dream, any woman for whom NO or CAN’T don’t exist, any woman who can work and raise a family, who does it alone, who falls and gets back up.

What gender-specific challenges, stereotypes, or barriers have you had to overcome during your career?

I’ve had so so many!!! I was teased for my look, made fun of for my sexual preferences, told I wasn’t as good as a man, told I wouldn’t fit in, overlooked for opportunities because I was female etc. Thankfully, things have changed, and my challenges that were mostly gender and preference-based seem to have almost disappeared.

What would you say to other women considering applying for a role like yours? Go for it… You’ve got this!

Name: Jodi Spooner

Role: Auto Branch Manager, Underwood

Time at O’Brien: 19 years

Favourite pastime: Spending time with family

What led you to join O’Brien?

I was working at a dealership doing some extremely long hours. I dropped a car off at O’Brien and that led to a job offer. The boss at the dealership told me I would be back, and I set out to prove him wrong. In fact, before O’Brien, I hadn’t stayed in a role longer than 3 years as I had moved around a lot.

What is the best piece of feedback you have received at work?

Winning the Belron Exceptional People Awards “BEPA” for Frontline Leader of 2019. It was incredibly grounding to firstly, be nominated, and then to win was very exciting. Being recognised on an international level, feedback doesn’t get much better than that!

What do you want out of your longer-term career?

I want to be able to make a difference to the operational side of the business. We have a lot of great people in that team and I want to be able to help them by streamlining our processes.

What gender-specific challenges, stereotypes, or barriers have you had to overcome during your career?

O’Brien and its people have never made me feel as though being a female was a barrier or challenge that I had to overcome. For me personally, it has always been about my individual strengths and what I bring to the role. While this isn’t the type of industry that women flock to, I have never heard the words ‘you can’t do this”

Name: Vivian Oppl

Role: Group Marketing Manager, Support Office

Time at O’Brien: 2 years

Favourite pastime: Sailing, mountain biking, spending time with my dogs

What led you to join O’Brien?

In the literal sense, it was a recruiter. I applied for one role being offered by the agency but after reading my CV they called me saying I was a better fit for another Marketing role. The job description sounded just perfect for me and was filled with many opportunities. When they revealed it was for O’Brien, I couldn’t help but sing their jingle – O’ O’ O’ O’Brien – and then I wondered why I hadn’t heard it in so long. I was excited to be part of O’Brien and help bring it back.

What do you want to achieve in the future?

My life so far has taught me I need to be flexible and say yes to opportunities that are presented to me. You just never know where they will lead. What if I never said yes to working in Norway and travelling solo through Europe for 2 years before going to Uni? What if I never asked in my first ever interview if the job could be done part-time and not full-time so I could finish my degree? What if I never said yes to an acquaintance to take me sailing which led to racing from Sydney to Lord Howe Island and my love for sailing and my love for him. I’ll never know, but saying yes to opportunities has led me down new and exciting paths that have shaped my life and my career.

What women support and inspire you in your career?

It’s not just women who have inspired me in my career but men too. I still remember the first email I received from one of my earliest Managers. After our very first meeting, he sent me an email titled “Marketing support for you”. He explained he could see my potential and wanted me to step up and lead the marketing direction and build a team. It was the first time I felt someone believed in me. At the same time, I had another wonderful Manager enter my life. She taught me the hands-on practical aspects of marketing and pushed me to look at things differently. Before I knew it she had me travelling to international marketing conferences presenting best practices to my global marketing colleagues – I was 27 at the time.

I thank all those people in my life who have believed in me and presented me with opportunities to grow and learn from. I only hope I’ve been able to offer the same in return to them.

We’re constantly looking for new superstars to join our team at O’Brien®. Visit to learn more about the different types of roles we offer, and explore our current vacancies – we look forward to receiving your application!


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