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SA defence industry advocate steps down

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The CEO of the state’s defence industry advocacy group the Defence Teaming Centre has resigned from the role after just over two years.

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Margot Forster will step down in June for family reasons, after replacing former CEO Chris Burns in late 2016.

She will be replaced by Audra McCarthy, who is currently executive director of industry development.

“Being CEO of the Defence Teaming Centre has been a privilege,” Forster said in a statement.

“I was really looking forward to continuing on in the role, but my first priority has always been my family and they really need me now… I have every confidence that Audra and the team can build on the work of the past few years.”

Forster said she intended to remain involved “in an advisory role” and that she and McCarthy “will work together over the next few months to ensure a seamless transition for our members”.

The transition comes at a significant time for the state’s defence industry, which is seeking to capitalise on a record defence spend with the $50 billion future submarines program as its centrepiece.

Under Forster, the Defence Teaming Centre established partnerships with counterparts in Western Australia and Victoria – last year announcing the formation of the national Australian Defence Alliance, representing around 1000 small to medium enterprises in the sector.

In a statement, the DTC said its board remained committed to “ensuring the [Alliance] thrives and flourishes as the country’s premier national body for dual-use and defence sector SMEs”.

Chairman Darryl Mincham said that Forster had been “fabulous for the Defence Teaming Centre”.

“Under her leadership we have greatly increased membership interaction and member training initiatives, we’ve collaborated well with our government stakeholders, and we have improved our internal functions,” he said.

“On behalf of the board, I wish her and her family all the very best.”

He said McCarthy would be “a familiar face to our members having been involved with the DTC for almost two years, first as a board member and later as the executive director of industry development”.

McCarthy was previously the Australian Industry Capability Manager of Future Submarine Combat Systems with Lockheed Martin, and has also worked with the Centre for Defence Industry and Capability, the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and the Defence Materiel Organisation.

“I look forward to stepping up to the role of CEO, working hard for our members, and continuing to consolidate the [Alliance] partnership,” she said in a statement.

“Margot has done a wonderful job over the last few years and it is a shame she is leaving before she gets to see the full value of the changes implemented under her leadership. It is now my responsibility to ensure these changes are fully realised for the benefit of our members.”

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