Lusia McAnna, deputy chair of Women in Tobacco (WIT) and former managing director of Pinpoint Technologies, passed away Dec. 19, 2022, after a valiant battle with pancreatic cancer.
McAnna was born in Sheffield in 1955 to Czeslaw and Aniela Zychowicz. During World War II, her grandmother, mother and four aunts were deported from Poland to labor camps in Siberia. After two years of hardship, the family escaped and eventually settled in Britain. Of the 1.7 million Poles deported to Russia, only one-third survived, so McAnna was not exaggerating when she said, “I come from a family of tough women.”
McAnna grew up speaking Polish and English, encountered Spanish when the family followed her father’s work to Colombia for three years, and went on to study Spanish and Russian at Bradford University.
Her languages, along with her determination, equipped her for a career in international sales. Despite the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated—and at times toxic—business culture, she quickly made a name for herself at Scandura Textiles.
In 1995, McAnna established PinPoint Technologies, a manufacturer of garniture tapes based in West Auckland, England. While it was clear that the industry would benefit from another source of quality tapes, McAnna knew that convincing the conservative tobacco business to try a new supplier would be a tall order.
With a combination of persistence, a highly skilled workforce and a relentless commitment to customer service, McAnna and her colleagues placed PinPoint firmly on the tobacco business map. “It took more than five years to get our tapes tested in some companies who now buy 100 percent from us,” she told Tobacco Reporter during a 2011 interview. Fittingly, Pinpoint adopted Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best” as its company song.
With her friend Elise Rasmussen, she established and ran WIT, an organization that continues to provide hundreds of women with opportunities for networking, mentoring and socializing.
At work, McAnna was as at ease with local staff from the Shildon area as she was with customers from the United States, Turkiye, Japan and elsewhere. When Pinpoint Technologies eventually closed, McAnna fought for a good redundancy package and offered valuable career advice to her employees.
To climb the ladder as a woman in business, McAnna once told a WIT audience, you need to be committed and work extremely hard. To prosper and stay sane, however, you also need a strong sense of humor and take time to de-stress. “If it stops being fun, get out and do something else, as life is much too short to waste,” she noted.