Award Winners

2012 NSW Award Winners

Telstra New South Wales Business Woman of the Year

Audette Exel

ISIS (Asia Pacific) Pty Ltd, Rozelle

‘Setting up a business in the high-end financial services sector solely to support people in extreme poverty was a huge challenge and a completely new approach.’ Audette Exel

With a career spanning roles as a solicitor, CEO of a listed bank and Chair of the Bermuda Stock Exchange, Audette Exel has been a consistent achiever. Elected by the World Economic Forum as a Global Leader For Tomorrow, Audette runs ISIS Asia Pacific (ISIS AP), an Australian corporate finance and placement business that raises alternative sources of capital for its clients. ISIS Australia Pacific is also a funding engine for, and partner to, The ISIS Foundation, a not-for-profit international development organisation that’s helping alleviate poverty in Nepal and Uganda. In 14 years, ISIS Asia Pacific has provided the Foundation with more than A$7 million in core support and emergency funding. Audette is Chair of the globally operating ISIS Group and one of the youngest women in the world to have run a publicly traded bank, but she says her achievements in working for others less fortunate are what drives her today.

Commonwealth Bank Business Owner Award

Audette Exel

ISIS (Asia Pacific) Pty Ltd, Rozelle

‘Setting up a business in the high-end financial services sector solely to support people in extreme poverty was a huge challenge and a completely new approach.’ Audette Exel

With a career spanning roles as a solicitor, CEO of a listed bank and Chair of the Bermuda Stock Exchange, Audette Exel has been a consistent achiever. Elected by the World Economic Forum as a Global Leader For Tomorrow, Audette runs ISIS Asia Pacific (ISIS AP), an Australian corporate finance and placement business that raises alternative sources of capital for its clients. ISIS Australia Pacific is also a funding engine for, and partner to, The ISIS Foundation, a not-for-profit international development organisation that’s helping alleviate poverty in Nepal and Uganda. In 14 years, ISIS Asia Pacific has provided the Foundation with more than A$7 million in core support and emergency funding. Audette is Chair of the globally operating ISIS Group and one of the youngest women in the world to have run a publicly traded bank, but she says her achievements in working for others less fortunate are what drives her today.

Hudson Private and Corporate Sector Award

Cynthia Whelan

Barclays Bank PLC, Sydney

‘I understand the power of women working together and I take every opportunity I can to assist others.’ Cynthia Whelan

Cynthia Whelan is driven, tenacious and resilient. At 15 she left school to pursue a career as a ballerina before injury forced her to retire. She then studied finance at university and worked with industry giants such as Merrill Lynch and UBS. In 2004 she joined Barclays where she developed the first institution’s debt capital market (DCM) business in Australia. Its success saw her relocated to Hong Kong where she led the regional consolidation of four Asian DCM operations. In 2011 she was appointed CEO for Australia and New Zealand and joined Barclay’s Asia Pacific Executive Committee becoming its first woman and Australian business representative. In the same year she was awarded global Barclays Woman of the Year award which recognised her 20 years in investment banking. Cynthia is active in networking and philanthropy through Barclays Women's Initiatives Network, the Chief Executive Women group, Sydney Women's Fund and through Women in Finance Asia which she co-founded.

White Pages® Community & Government Award

Lee de Winton

Royal Australian Air Force, Williamtown

‘My squadron has the capability to set up a base either nationally or internationally at a moment’s notice to help with a national emergency or support humanitarian disaster relief.’ Lee de Winton

As the Commanding Officer of Number 381 Expeditionary Combat Support Squadron, Wing Commander Lee de Winton is responsible for the management of the support capabilities at RAAF Williamtown, the Australian Defence Force’s busiest airfield. Williamtown accommodates jet fighters, surveillance, training aircraft and is home to 300 multi-purpose vehicles and other defence equipment. Lee also provides support services at remote or semi-developed airstrips for national and international emergencies or humanitarian disaster relief tasks. Her career highlights include a deployment to Iraq in 2003 and more recently, leading a joint exercise between the Australian and United States air forces which tested the interoperability of the command, communications, logistics, security and health of the engineering services of both air forces for the first time. In only 36 hours, a piece of bushland – called the ‘Impossible Airfield’ – was transformed into an airbase. In 2008, she began a women’s development and leadership forums group which have now been formalised across most of the Air Force.

Nokia Business Innovation Award

Liesl Capper

MyCyberTwin Pty Ltd, Chatswood

‘I have designed a profiling system that allows a conversational robot with artificial intelligence to make autonomous decisions and have human-like conversations in live chat, smartphones or other environments.’ Liesl Capper

With training in education and psychology, Liesl has brought some unique perspectives to the software industry. The holder of four patents, she has been behind the design of the world leading MyCyberTwin virtual humans, which are able to talk with customers using sophisticated artificial intelligence. The ‘brain’ technology is being used by large corporations to serve customers better. Liesl and her team are currently developing a prototype 'health coach' for chronic disease intervention with Charles Perkins Centre at The University of Sydney. Research shows patients stick to a weight management program twice as long if they interact with an intelligent agent with human characteristics and qualities. In addition to two patents which make robots appear human-like and intuitive, she is the creator of Australian search engine company Mooter Media and developed its search technology. Mooter Search analyses user behaviour allowing for personalised searches. The technology was licensed to Yahoo! and Fairfax.

marie claire Young Business Women’s Award

Naomi Barber

Disability Services Australia, Bankstown

‘The driving factors for my success come from a genuine interest in the Community Services sector, my natural ability to care for others and a desire for human rights, respect and dignity for all people.’ Naomi Barber

Turning her back on careers in retail management and the music industry, Naomi Barber decided she needed to do something that delivered more than just personal job satisfaction. Naomi joined the Deaf Society of NSW and has since moved to not-for-profit Disability Services Australia, where she is Manager Access and Transition. Naomi manages separate teams across NSW that deliver support to school leavers with a disability and promote the organisation’s work. Naomi manages a team of four that supports the needs of more than 2000 people with a disability within Disability Services Australia. These people are assisted to find or keep a job by an employment program, employed in one of four employment factories or with community services. Naomi manages a budget of $1.4m and has expanded Disability Services Australia services into regional areas. Naomi researches and implements strategies to develop and improve cultural awareness and diversity within the organisation.