Manufacturing AUTOMATION

Virtual Event
Women in Manufacturing
May 13, 2021 at 1:00pm ET

Keynote | The future is flexible: Creating change for women in manufacturing

Speaker: Rhonda Barnet, President & COO, AVIT Manufacturing

A post-COVID world on the horizon, the skills shortage and advances in technology have manufacturers thinking about flexibility in new ways. In an era where good talent is hard to find, that flexibility must extend to your workforce — and this is especially true for women, who have been have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

AVIT Manufacturing president and gender equity champion Rhonda Barnet explores how manufacturers can support change in their organizations by adopting and tracking flexible policies that attract, retain and advance women – because what gets measured gets done.

Meet our speaker:

Rhonda Barnet, President & COO, AVIT Manufacturing

Rhonda Barnet is the president and COO of AVIT Manufacturing (formerly Steelworks Design), an engineering and custom automation firm in Peterborough, Ont.

An ardent supporter of Canadian manufacturing and exporting, Rhonda was appointed the first female chair in history of the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (2016-2018). Rhonda currently serves CME in the role of immediate past chair and the chair of The Workforce of the Future. She maintains an active schedule of government and industry engagements, including functions in Germany, Holland, Italy, China, Mexico, the United States and Canada.

Further national appointments include being one of nine members of the Canada Economic Strategy Council, set to lead a comprehensive strategy for Canada’s recovery from the 2020 Economic Crisis, chair of the Federal Advanced Manufacturing Strategy Table (AMEST), and director of Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen Canada), one of five Canadian superclusters to deliver $950 million in federal innovation funds. Recently, Rhonda was also appointed a director of Palette Inc., a federally funded pilot program around reskilling and upskilling disrupted workers for the technology jobs of the future. Rhonda was recently appointed as chair of equity, diversity and inclusion of Palette Inc.

Quick to recognize the potential of a strong entrepreneurial community focused on skills and education, Rhonda volunteers and champions numerous initiatives to this end. This includes work with regional manufacturers’ associations and start-up organizations, community college and economic development strategy councils.

In 2016 Rhonda launched CME’s Women in Manufacturing Working Group, convened to elevate the participation and roles of women in Canadian manufacturing. In 2018, Rhonda launched CME’s “We Can Do It” campaign, an initiative funded in part by the federal government to add 100,000 women to the manufacturing workforce over the next five years.

Rhonda is an international spokeswoman on diversity, women in manufacturing, skills and the future workforce. Rhonda believes in the value of mentorship and upholds the philosophy “If you can see me, you can be me.”