Meet your candidates: NSW/ACT Member Director election

Capricorn Board

Meet the three candidates for Capricorn’s New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory Member Director Election in 2021.

Capricorn Members in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory are invited to vote for a new Member Director to represent their zone on the Capricorn Board.

The election will take place from Wednesday, 15 September 2021, to Friday, 15 October 2021. There are three candidates for Members to choose from. The successful candidate will replace long-time Member Director, Russell Becker, who is retiring after reaching the maximum service period allowed under Capricorn’s constitution.

Capricorn is a member-based organisation and Member representation on the board helps ensure Members’ interests are safeguarded. Member Directors use their skills, knowledge and expertise in the industry to help ensure Capricorn is delivering for Members, reflecting Members’ interests and living up to Capricorn’s promises and values. Your participation in your zone’s Director Elections helps ensure Capricorn remains a vibrant and healthy cooperative.

If you’re in NSW or the ACT, you’ll be invited to vote via an email, containing a link to your ballot, or you can vote via the Shareholder Portal. Every Member’s vote is equal. The successful candidate will be announced on 29 October 2021.

Remember that all Members regardless of how many shares they own have just one vote, so every Member and every vote is equally important. 

Here are your candidates.

Lydia Stjepanovic

Lydia Stjepanovic is a second-generation automotive services business owner with a Bachelor of Business and Commerce (Management) from the University of Western Sydney and an Advanced Diploma in Business (Marketing) from Macleay College.

Eight years ago, Lydia left a corporate career to “pursue a childhood passion” and return to the family business — Barrie Auto Electrics in Hornsby, NSW — as Service and Operations Manager.

“With me, I brought a wide skill set including marketing planning and implementation, strategic analysis and development, experience-driven customer and stakeholder engagement, and procedural development,” she said.

In 2019, Lydia and husband, Igor, bought Barr Automotive (formerly Denis Barr Automotive, and just around the corner from the family business). The business achieved a 20% turnover increase in its first year and look set to beat that milestone this year, having also grown the customer base by some 60%. The workshop has now won or been a finalist in numerous automotive and small-business awards.

Lydia said she fell in love with the industry at a young age and from 12 had “consciously attended every AAAE, VASA, MTA, Capricorn, and AAAA convention, gala and trade event with the family business, taking holidays from other employment to be there”, which she said demonstrated a long-term commitment to the industry.

“My history, education and experiences provide me with a unique set of skills and perspectives that has seen rapid success in my business, and I am passionate about contributing to the betterment of our industry and Capricorn Society members,” she said.

“It is my unique viewpoint, set of skills, and ability to take swift and decisive action, analyse and adapt to new situations quickly that have led to success in my own business, as it will in a directorship position.”

Michael Killen

Michael Killen has more than 35 years’ experience in the automotive industry, having joined the family business, Killen’s Smash Repairs in Armidale, NSW, as a panel beating apprentice in 1983. Michael and his wife, Natalie, now run the business and two of their sons, Cameron and Patrick, are among the workshop’s 15 employees.

Killen’s offers smash repairs, spray painting, mechanical, electrical, wheel alignment, air conditioning services and towing, and achieved AMBRA Level 4 Shop Grading Manufacturer Approved Repairer status in April 2021. The workshop has OEM certification for Subaru, GM and Tesla and is working towards several more.

“We are now at a point in our family business that I believe I can contribute something back,” Michael said. “As our industry continues to change at a rapid pace, my priorities are to see young people take up positions in the industry as a professional career, with a clear understanding of how challenging and rewarding it can be and with clearer paths of progression, to allow the industry to keep the good people that we train.

“I also wish to continue to see our industry move to more sustainable practices from both an environmental and economic viewpoint.”

Michael has experience on several boards and committees, including the NRMA’s Preferred Smash Repairers Advisory Committee, the NRMA Jumpstart Youth Trade Training Initiative, the Armidale and District Chamber of Commerce, and Price Waterhouse Cooper’s training module consultation process.

Michael said Capricorn had been “an extremely important part” of his own business and believed in the benefits it offered independent operators.

“I believe that I can support the spirit of cooperation that has made Capricorn what it is today and help to guide it through an exciting future,” he said.

Ken Flower

Ken Flower is a business leader who has experience at a chief executive officer, general manager and managing director level in the automotive, engineering, agricultural and aviation industries. He is currently the owner and general manager of Kaputar Motors, a car dealership, in Narrabri, NSW. He bought the business in 2021, having been GM since 2017.

Ken holds a Bachelor of Civil Engineering from Caulfield Institute Melbourne, a Graduate Diploma of Business from Deakin University, a Masters in Business Administration (majoring in International Finance), also from Deakin, and a Graduate Diploma in Cotton Production from the University of New England.

Ken said his interest was in identifying “key business drivers, developing strategy and leading change for the benefit of customers, members and staff”.

His board and committee experience includes 18 years as a director and shareholder at Tumbarumba Wine Estates, three years as general manager of Narrabri Shire Council, four years as a councillor and chair of the council’s finance committee, several years as general manager of North West Local Land Services for the New South Wales Government, and the last five years as president of the Namoi Aero Club.

Ken is also the long-time owner of Namoi Aviation, a flight training facility in Narrabri, and spent four years as managing director of Syngenta Seeds in South Africa.

“In my role at Syngenta I was part of a team to enhance our Human Resources transition following a very large merger,” he said. “This has given me much experience in inspiring organisational excellence.

“I have led several management teams through a change process to improve operational performance, including ‘Investment in Excellence’.”

Ken is a former chief flying instructor at the Wee Waa Gliding Club and the Lake Keepit Soaring Club.

This article was published 27/08/2021 and the content is current as at the date of publication.