In the world of marketing and public relations, specifically the promotion of wood and the people who work with it, few names carry the gravitas of Eileen Newbury.
Since I first met Eileen when she was owner and managing director of Leading Edge Events International Pty Ltd, working under contract to Forest and Wood Products Australia, I have admired her power to communicate in a way that raises questions, changes hearts and makes a positive difference.
She was appointed full time to FWPA in 2013 by then managing director Ric Sinclair. So, when Eileen announced last week she was leaving FWPA as head of marketing and communications and head of the WoodSolutions program, at the peak of her career, a call to her in Melbourne allayed any fears she was ‘leaving us’.
“I love this industry and will continue to work within it in some capacity,” she asserted.
There have been many facets in Eileen’s career, so many paths she might have re-trod. Among them product launches, award nights, major festivals, television, and sports charity events including for racing, golf and cricket, in particular the Australian Masters Golf Tournament and the Bicentennial Golf Classic. The list goes on.
“Now let me sit back, release some steam, be a ‘beach bum’ if I want to, or whatever, and see where I go in three months’ time.”
She is a graduate and alumni of the prestigious Leadership Victoria Williamsons Program, a relationship that continues through mentoring of participants and participating on the selection committee for new candidates.
A message from Sarah Downey, senior marketing and communications manager at FWPA: “Eileen has been a powerhouse in the organisation and along with her team has overseen several important initiatives that have helped reframe the industry and how it is perceived.
“Since joining FWPA full-time in 2013, Eileen’s achievements have been an important part of FWPA’s success.”
FWPA’s CEO Andrew Leighton added: “Eileen has an energy and a passion for FWPA and for the industry that was felt by all and will be greatly missed. Data and research have always underpinned her marketing and education of the industry.
“As the head of the WoodSolutions program, Eileen was integral in lifting the recognition of wood and wood products in the design and build industry. Testament to this influence was the introduction of The Ultimate Renewable brand and its ongoing success informing the consumer audience about the clear environmental benefits of wood and wood products”.
WoodSolutions: the world’s most-important timber resource
When asked about her proudest moment at FWPA, Eileen is quick to mention the project that showcased wood and its tangible impact on the health and happiness of people.
“The work confirmed the importance of biophilic design, and the role wood has to play in the design and build industry,” she said.
Launched at the Venice Biennale with the Australian Institute of Architects, the campaign not only achieved national success; the research was recognised and endorsed internationally and helped place FWPA on a global stage.
“I feel very proud of the work and successes achieved over the 13 years and there have been many highlights during my time – all of which would not have been possible without the FWPA family,” Eileen said.
She thanked Andrew Leighton for the opportunity he had given her over the last year and in particular, “acknowledge my FWPA colleagues and key contractors for all the support and encouragement that was afforded to me,”
FWPA will be announcing who will step into Eileen’s role in the coming weeks.
Eileen’s decision, unfortunately, will see her forego the FWPA-TDA timber construction tour of Sweden and Norway in June.