2016 Finalists

Christine Swanson — Prominent Financial Services

Telstra South Australian Entrepreneur Award Finalist

At 24, Christine Swanson was diagnosed with cancer, an experience that caused her to suffer both personally and financially. However, it was through this ordeal that Christine discovered a passion for helping people. It was more than 19 years ago that Christine started Prominent Financial Services, a financial advice business that promotes a secure and comfortable environment for all clients. In 2014, Christine was elected the national Chair for AFA's initiative to help more women seek a career in financial advice to secure their financial futures.

Christine says that she didn't choose the financial services industry, it chose her, because of her ability to connect with people emotionally, discover what‘s really important and help find solutions to issues. Christine is passionate about improving the perception of financial advice within the community and to ease the burden wherever she can of those suffering financially because of major illness.

This is reflected significantly by the specialist division of the business, Prominent ProBono, which offers financial assistance specifically to those affected by a serious illness or disability at no cost to the client.

I help people suffering financially due to major illness, but I also connect with them emotionally, to understand their fears and let them know that they are not alone.
Christine Swanson

Jenny Paradiso — Suntrix

Telstra Australian Entrepreneur Award Finalist
Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year Finalist
Telstra South Australian Business Woman of the Year Finalist
Telstra South Australian Entrepreneur Award Finalist

Jenny Paradiso is the co-founder and the managing director of Suntrix, a successful solar energy business that operates nationally. Suntrix helps individuals and businesses save money on their electricity costs, while at the same time reducing their carbon footprint. Operating as a predominantly cloud-based business means that Jenny’s 25 employees have the flexibility to work from anywhere, at any time and can access the data they need from any mobile device.

The biggest challenge for Jenny was in 2014 when an unexpected disruption to their industry resulted in an 18-month period of uncertainty. Fortunately for Suntrix, it was through Jenny’s determination that the business was able to survive and even flourish into the multi-million dollar national company that it is today.

Suntrix was awarded the 2013 Telstra South Australian Business of the Year.

I see myself as the mother of the business - always looking at the current and future welfare of her child, supporting and encouraging growth and independence and making sacrifices when needed.
Jenny Paradiso

Tiffany Murray — Dressed for Sale

Telstra South Australian Entrepreneur Award Finalist

On top of looking after four children and running marathons in her spare time, Tiffany Murray knows a thing or two about business. The first half of Tiffany's career saw her working in events for the Australian Grand Prix, in promotions for Triple M and finally in sales to the Australian Defence Force. However, it was after her marriage to a farmer that she spent the next ten years living a life on the land and raising four young children. It was in 2014 that Tiffany founded home styling business, Dressed for Sale, after hiring a stylist to style her own home and having it sell within a month she was sold and Dressed for sale was born. Dressed for Sale offers complete pre-sale preparation which includes hire furniture and project management of painting, flooring and gardening.

Tiffany's successful sales and marketing initiatives have resulted in the team having styled more than 900 houses and having hundreds of agents and vendors use their service. She is also currently in the process of scaling Dressed for Sale nationally.

Dressed for Sale was also recognised as a finalist in the 2016 Telstra Business Awards.

What I have learnt is, that to be successful, I have to do what I love and be proud of the work that I do.
Tiffany Murray

Helen Whait — ActivOT

Telstra South Australian Entrepreneur Award Finalist

After years of working in professional practice, Helen Whait decided to embark on her own journey by starting her own occupational therapy (OT) private practice, ActivOT in 2007.

Helen says that as OT is a relatively new profession, it is not a widely well-known or understood outside the healthcare arena, but she believes it is the missing piece of the puzzle when it comes to aged care in Australia. With the country's rapidly ageing population and increasing health care costs, OT offers a cost-effective way to meet the needs of the elderly and chronically ill citizens. Helen's practice offers practical services that encourage the elderly to partake in physical tasks such as showering, dressing and cooking without the help of a carer, by modifying the task or environment to enable them to complete it for themselves.

In the last five years, Helen has expanded the business into a franchise. She now shares her practice with five other women who all manage their own franchises.

I love the practicality of my profession and the sense of satisfaction I have at the end of a work day, knowing I have made a positive difference in many lives.
Helen Whait

Kathy Drogemuller — Paracombe Premium Wines

Telstra South Australian Entrepreneur Award Finalist

Kathy Drogemuller's story began after the Ash Wednesday bushfires in 1983 when she and her husband bought a burnt out dairy farm in Paracombe. Despite having no previous experience in grape growing or winemaking they decided to plant a vineyard.

Several years later, after establishing a public relations consultancy in 1992, Kathy launched Paracombe Premium Wines, where she is responsible for the business management and sales. She uses her passion, vision and energy to market Paracombe wines throughout Australia and the world.

A milestone achievement for Kathy was winning the Qantas tender for Paracombe Premium Wines to be served during Business Class flights as part of the national airline?۪s prestigious in-flight wine program.

Outside her role, she actively supports a Maasai project in Tanzania by selling their jewellery in Australia and sending all proceeds back to the Maasai community.

I don't focus on the problem, I seek the solution, and rally and encourage my Paracombe team in tough times, always leading by example
Kathy Drogemuller

Dr Gemma Munro — Inkling Women

Telstra South Australian Entrepreneur Award Finalist

Dr Gemma Munro is the founder and CEO of Inkling Women, an organisation with a mission to rapidly increase the percentage of women at leadership level. Gemma has a PhD in psychology and has so far coached more than 10,000 women. She has worked with hundreds of leadership teams, giving them the skills to step up, speak up and lead.

Having worked with major organisations such as Google, Nissan and PayPal, Gemma believes that her business is important because when organisations reach gender parity at leadership level, almost every single key performance metric increases. Such indicators include innovation, ROI, profitability, decision making, employee engagement and customer satisfaction.

With Gemma at the helm, Inkling Women is changing women's lives and careers and helping organisations to unlock the multiple benefits of gender diversity.

My personal and business mission is to ensure that 50 per cent of leadership roles worldwide are held by women.
Dr Gemma Munro

Dr Sherry Kothari — CRC for Cell Therapy Manufacturing

Telstra South Australian For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

Dr Sherry Kothari's vision and leadership are forging a new frontier in cell therapies, which through their potential to cure, are set to transform the future of healthcare. Her pioneering role harnesses her diverse background in which she has held the roles of clinician, lecturer, entrepreneurship educator, program leader and founding investor of two life-science companies.

As CEO and managing director of the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Cell Therapy Manufacturing, she has taken the company from a concept, to a six-year Commonwealth and partner funded national business with 16 partners. In three short years, the company has filed six patent applications and has achieved international reach as part of a global alliance, helping to increase the affordability and accessibility of cell therapies for citizens worldwide.

I'm proud to be leading a national centre that has put Australia firmly on the global cell therapy map. We are pioneering novel technologies to make cell therapies more affordable, giving patients with currently untreatable medical conditions a better chance of access to potentially life-saving therapies.
Dr Sherry Kothari

Sarah Powell — Champions Academy

Telstra Australian For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist
Telstra South Australian For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

Growing up in rural Australia, Sarah Powell, knows how vital regional communities are and has turned this insight into a social enterprise, Champions Academy.

Champions Academy partners with local sporting clubs to foster personal development through sport and mentoring. It teaches aspiring leaders how to lead by example, act with integrity, think selflessly and demonstrate commitment.

Starting her career as an office manager before transitioning into banking and accounting, Sarah has been constantly recognised for her outstanding contributions in both her work and community.

In 2005, she was appointed president of the Cairns Young Chamber of Commerce before transitioning into economic development. In this role, she was the inaugural CEO of Regional Development Australia Far North QLD and Torres Strait. Subsequently she launched her own consultancy, Shadowbox, and in 2013 she began developing a next gen leadership concept which became the Champions Academy initiative that is known today.

For her community work with Champions Academy she won the 2015 RIRDC Rural Women's Award for SA and went on to be named Australian Rural Women of the Year.

Sporting clubs are the pulse of the rural community and the young participants are next generation's leaders and regional advocates.
Sarah Powell

Kerry Rowlands — SA Water

Telstra South Australian Public Sector and Academia Award Finalist

Kerry Rowlands had a career of more than 20 years in senior commercial and customer experience roles at Kimberly Clark Australia and Faulding Pharmaceuticals, before joining SA Water in 2003. SA Water is wholly owned by the Government of South Australia and provides water and sewerage services to more than 1.5 million residents. After several roles in customer service and finance, Kerry joined the executive team where she took on functional responsibility for the Customer and Community Relations division.

Kerry says that SA Water has a long history of being an engineering organisation, but it has been her responsibility to bring the voice of the customer to the organisation. She was in charge of driving an organisation-wide customer strategy, putting the customer at the heart of the business. It is her ongoing responsibility to achieve high levels of customer satisfaction by delivering services that customers value.

Kerry is also the Chair of the Water Services Association of Australia's (WSAA) Customer and Community network, a role that allows her to influence her industry at a national level.

I actively employ strategies to set people up to be successful, building capability and resilience to the face of challenging times.
Kerry Rowlands

Dr Joanne Bowen — University of Adelaide

Telstra Australian Public Sector and Academia Award Finalist
Telstra South Australian Public Sector and Academia Award Finalist

Since completing her PhD in 2006, Dr Joanne Bowen has played a key role in academic medical research at the University of Adelaide and is head of the Gastrointestinal Pathophysiology Laboratory. The lab is dedicated to better understanding the mechanisms and management of conditions affecting the gastrointestinal tract, working to prevent some of the serious side-effects associated with cancer treatments.

Focused on training the next generation of medical researchers, Joanne is a manager and mentor for four research assistants and supervisor of five PhD and three honours students. Joanne collaborates with the private sector and other researchers, having merged her laboratory with two other groups in 2015, to form a larger laboratory called Cancer Treatment Toxicities Group. By partnering academia with the private sector, she ensures that new technologies are tested and effectively translated into useful clinical treatments.

My approach to securing funding is to network as much as possible at conferences and events, as well as actively seek out new opportunities to collaborate both inside academia and with industry.
Dr Joanne Bowen

Darlene Mattiske-Wood — People's Choice Credit Union

Telstra Australian Corporate and Private Award Finalist
Telstra South Australian Corporate and Private Award Finalist

Darlene Mattiske-Wood is the deputy CEO and chief strategy, members and people officer for People's Choice Credit Union, the second largest credit union in Australia. Working with the CEO, Darlene provides strategic leadership and guidance for the overall operation and long term growth of People's Choice.

Darlene has been responsible for the people strategy and implementation plan of every significant change undertaken while being employed at People's Choice, including the largest merger of two mutual organisations ever undertaken within Australia. She developed The People and Culture strategy, which supports the alignment of internal culture to the corporate strategy and vision. The strategy has successfully reduced turnover from 21 per cent to 11 per cent within five years. At the same time the strategy increased staff engagement from 67 per cent to 98 per cent by 2009 and even after one merger and two acquisitions, in 2016 staff engagement is back up to almost 90 per cent. In addition to this, in 2013/14 she implemented a Workplace Diversity policy which included setting and achieving objectives such as increasing the ratio of female part-time leaders from two per cent to 10 per cent.

I love what I do because it's about working with the psychology of people, staff and customers, to deliver commercial results and business success while maintaining a positive, aligned and engaged culture.
Darlene Mattiske-Wood

Christine Katic — BOC

Telstra South Australian Corporate and Private Award Finalist

More than twenty years ago, Christine Katic started her career as a chemical engineer working as a graduate for BOC. BOC supplies compressed bulk gases, chemicals and equipment around the globe through safe, sustainable and innovative solutions. BOC customers come from a variety of speciality sectors, including heavy industry and medical environments. Christine is now the zone production manager for BOC's South Australian and Northern Territory cylinder production sites. Christine is responsible for achieving quality, service and performance as well as health, safety and environment (HSE) objectives. As one of the first female engineers at BOC she has a passion for supporting women in her industry. She actively promotes STEM fields to younger women and encourages them to choose engineering as a career.

Outside her role, she has also been a Trustee Director of the BOC Superannuation fund since 2013, after being re-elected in May 2016, an achievement she is most proud of.

Although I'm an engineer with a strong technical understanding of processes, I love to listen and develop people so they can achieve their best.
Christine Katic

Jenny Karavolos — Saab Australia

Telstra South Australian Corporate and Private Award Finalist

Jenny Karavolos knows what it means to succeed in a male-dominated industry. With more than 19 years’ experience in the transport, energy and defence industries, she is now Saab Australia’s commercial adviser. The company develops defence and security solutions. As the company’s lead negotiator, she fosters long-standing relationships, and develops and executes commercial strategy. Constantly challenging the norms, Jenny’s strong leadership and professional skills, complemented with a good dose of humour, have enabled her to take on senior roles in the defence industry including Treasurer for the Defence Teaming Centre Board.

Outside of work, she leverages her negotiation and interpersonal skills to achieve societal change for those who need extra assistance in life. She is the President and Chairman of Autism SA, and works to achieve greater inclusion of children with disability through changes in policy, methods and attitudes. Additionally, as a director for parents4kids, her mission is to help children with developmental disorders or language delays unlock their potential.

My profession has given me the skills and the opportunity to influence a better society through provision of defence and security solutions, helping people realise their full potential, and effecting social change by challenging the norms.
Jenny Karavolos

Andrea Slattery — SMSF Association

Telstra South Australian Corporate and Private Award Finalist

Andrea Slattery is one of Australia's leading experts on self-managed super funds (SMSFs), having co-founded the SMSF Association in 2003. The Association advocates on behalf of Australia's $590b SMSF sector, comprised of the 1.1 million Australians who have elected to manage their own superannuation.

Andrea's expertise is sought out by local, national and international governments, policymakers and the private sector, for advice and thought-leadership on retirement systems. Her aim is to positively influence public policy, so that Australians can achieve self-sufficiency and a good quality of life in their retirement.

Through her work, SMSFs have now been recognised as a critical pillar in Australia's social and economic wellbeing. Recently, Andrea conducted a report identifying the root causes of inequity between men and women's superannuation balances. Her recommendations directly influenced the regulatory framework enabling women to catch up on their contributions. Andrea leads the SMSF Association with a team of 24 staff and 200 volunteers, which represents and services all the SMSF trustees as well as the nearly 4,000 professional members.

My passion is to inspire Australians to take greater control over their own destiny, by striving to fund and manage their own retirement, and build a profession for those advising and servicing the industry to continue to position our nation for a sustainable future.
Andrea Slattery

Grace Lever — GraceLever.com

Telstra Australian Young Business Women's Award Finalist
Telstra South Australian Young Business Women's Award Finalist

Grace Lever is a passionate entrepreneur who started her first business when she was only 20. She has since built six businesses from the ground up, all of which have been sold, rented or invested in. Her latest venture is GraceLever.com, a platform through which she works with other female entrepreneurs to help them create balanced, automated lifestyle businesses.

She holds regular "Doing Days", live workshops across the country which empower and equip female entrepreneurs to turn their business ideas into reality. Grace also runs an online community, The Doing Academy, with more than 1,000 members, all passionate female entrepreneurs ready to stop dreaming and start doing in their business.

Grace is a firm believer in the power of digital marketing and Facebook is instrumental in her strategy. Every month, her brand is in front of more than one million entrepreneurs and she credits the social networking site for enabling GraceLever.com to grow from zero to six figures in six weeks, and a million dollar business in 10 months.

Grace was a 2015 Telstra South Australian Business Women Award finalist.

I love seeing what women are capable of and how rewarding they find it when they see that they have the ability to achieve success in their business. I realised there was a need for someone to empower and equip them because no one else was doing it.
Grace Lever

Samantha James-Cockayne — ORBE North Adelaide

Telstra South Australian Young Business Women's Award Finalist

Samantha James-Cockayne moved to Adelaide from the UK, aged 17, with her family. When she arrived in Australia, she undertook a hairdressing apprenticeship at hair salon ORBE, and completed it a year early due to breaking past records of budgets and client retention percentages and surpassing other stylists in the team. Upon obtaining her qualifications, she stayed on at ORBE and became part of the in-salon training team and was quickly promoted to salon manager.

After being an integral part of a very successful long-standing business for ten years, she decided to further her career and become a salon owner. In September 2014, she set up her own salon as part of the ORBE brand.

Samantha has three roles within the business: a manager, an employer, and an educator, ensuring the salon is well-run whilst recruiting, retaining and training her staff. Samantha's aim is not only to style her clients' hair, but to instil confidence in them, empowering them to feel and look their very best, and to build with them trusting relationships.

After working as an employee of the original business, I have achieved continuous satisfaction at being part of the whole "big picture" that comes with being a business owner.
Samantha James-Cockayne

Nicole Sumracki — Nutrition Republic

Telstra South Australian Young Business Women's Award Finalist

After completing a PhD in Medicine, Dr Nicole Sumracki didn't think that the academic or pharmaceutical worlds would suit her. Instead, she wanted to pursue a natural and holistic approach to health and wellness. She became involved in her husband's business, Nutrition Republic, a retail supplement store. As the store evolved into a health café, providing nutritious and healthy meals catering for all special dietary requirements, Nicole saw a real opportunity to fulfil her dreams of working for a greater purpose.

Nicole now shares the CEO responsibilities with her husband and is also the creative and marketing director. Her vision is to make the world a happier and more health-conscious place for all, by inspiring and educating people to make informed food choices. Health and happiness are at the core of the business, and are reflected in the café menu and retail offering, customer service and community involvement.

I love what I do as it creates a healthy, happy space to nourish, unite and transform people's lives. I believe it is necessary to have people like me who will disrupt the status quo to create positive change.
Nicole Sumracki

Churyl Scheppard — Fitness Works

Telstra Northern Territory Entrepreneur Award Finalist

Churyl Scheppard has always had a passion for health and fitness and has worked in the industry for more than 30 years. So it was only fitting that in 2010 she decided to purchase Fitness Works, a gym and health promotion business, which offers a range of services. Churyl and her eldest son, Seann, jointly own and manage the business’ two locations: Nightcliff and Alawa. 

Churyl has developed a culture of welcoming and warmth as she believes that making people feel comfortable in their environment will encourage them to use the facilities and gain the results they want. Churyl believes a diverse team with a passion for fitness is the key to success.   

Churyl is passionate about providing a service that is broadly accessible and cost effective in an environment that is not intimidating to ordinary people and families. 

Churyl is a strong believer in diversity and inclusion; the facilities are wheelchair accessible and the gym hosts programs for Nemarluk School, a school for children who require specialised educational programs.

I love managing a fitness business as it has a positive contribution to the wellbeing of individuals and to the wider community.
Churyl Scheppard

Karen Sheldon — Karen Sheldon Group

Telstra Australian Entrepreneur Award Finalist
Telstra Northern Territory Entrepreneur Award Finalist

Karen Sheldon heads up a unique enterprise. What initially started off as a hospitality business in 1982, expanded through a staff buy-in into a company developing diverse services that focus on addressing Indigenous economic and employment disadvantage.

To achieve this, the four divisions of the business: hospitality, employment services, training and development, and the Saltbush Mob Residential Alcohol Habilitation Centre work together in synergy. In addition, Karen Sheldon’s Future Stars Indigenous Employment Program provides positive employment experiences with planned pathways and long-term intensive holistic mentoring, guiding participants towards a brighter future.  

Karen says she and the company directors look forward to the day when ‘the gap’ has been closed on Indigenous disadvantage, so they can concentrate on even more creative pursuits in fostering micro and small enterprise development.

My fulfilment comes from being able to use my career and life experiences to provide practical solutions that are assisting some of the people who first welcomed me to their country.
Karen Sheldon

Rhonda Dunne — Raw Cloth

Telstra Northern Territory Entrepreneur Award Finalist

Sewing was initially a self-taught hobby for Rhonda Dunne, but as her family grew, she created garments for her five daughters and then eventually started selling them at the Nightcliff Markets. Rhonda enjoyed creating the handcrafted goods so much she, formalised it as a business, launching Raw Cloth. The brand name is inspired by her passion and work ethic with ‘Raw’ standing for ‘Rhonda at Work’. 

Rhonda sources textiles from designer-brands such as Marimekko through to Indigenous textiles from communities throughout Australia. Rhonda believes that it is important to know the history of where a garment comes from and so, every product at Raw Cloth is presented with its own original story. 

Raw Cloth’s products and philanthropic activities are a testament to the value Rhonda places on celebrating diversity and the talents of textile artists from around the world. Her business is a strong supporter of local indigenous artists from Daly River, Tiwi Islands, Gunbalanya and Central Australia. One of her greatest achievements was winning the Fashions on the Field at the 2013 Melbourne Cup Carnival, a collaboration between herself and local Aboriginal artist Gracie Kumbi. 

I enjoy creating a hub for our suppliers, artists and customers to learn about textiles, exchange information and create networks and friendships.
Rhonda Dunne

Denise Dunn — Slappa's Thongs

Telstra Northern Territory Entrepreneur Award Finalist

Denise Dunn is the founder and CEO of Slappa’s Thongs, a business with an innovative take on the much-loved, iconic Aussie footwear. Denise identified a gap in the market for a thong that was comfortable, affordable, durable but most importantly supportive, which is Slappa’s Thongs key point of difference. Denise came up with an idea to create a thong with sufficient arch support to lessen the impact that traditional thongs have on the foot, leg and rest of the body. Slappa’s Thongs are different to regular rubber thongs because they are made from EVA foam, the same material used to make mouthguards. This means that the shoes are light, mould to the shape of your foot, do not retain odour and, most importantly, have decent arch support. 

What started out as a market stall at Mindil Beach has now become a thriving business. Denise says that Slappa’s Thongs are approximately one third of the price of orthopaedic sandals, and the fact that podiatrists and physiotherapists recommend her shoes is a true testament to the fact that they really do provide valuable support to the feet. 

My proudest achievement has been taking a simple idea and building it into a successful business that generates sufficient income and allows me spend quality time with my family.
Denise Dunn

Mahongo Fumbelo — Born to Win Consulting

Telstra Northern Territory Entrepreneur Award Finalist

Mahongo Fumbelo started her career as a journalist writing stories highlighting the plight of women in Zambia. She then went on to work for the United Nations in East Timor, as a public information officer, helping female victims of rape. After leaving a recruitment agency which helped disadvantaged job seekers, she started her own training, coaching and motivational speaking business. 

Born to Win Consulting provides soft skills training programs, which include emotional intelligence and science-based behavioural-style assessments. Mahongo’s clients include politicians, business owners and individuals who come to her with issues such as improving employee engagement, communication, team cohesion, retention and general career advice.

Since starting her business in 2014 Mahongo has trained more than 2,000 people, has helped more than 100 people get a qualification, and has assisted others in finding work and adjust attitudes and mindsets at their workplace. In addition, she also does free speaking engagements to inspire, motivate and help refugees understand Australia’s workplace culture. 

I thrive in bringing out the best in others regardless of their past. I love seeing people overcome their obstacles, discover their potential and live fulfilling lives.
Mahongo Fumbelo

Terri-ann Maney — Australian Institute of Company Directors

Telstra Northern Territory For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

Terri-ann Maney has had extensive experience in business-related fields, with a career largely centred on adult education and organisational development. It’s the dynamic business environment and sense of community that has kept Terri-ann living in the Territory since 1999. For the past four years, Terri-ann has been working for the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), an organisation which aims to make a positive impact through governance education, director development and advocacy.

As Members & Directors Manager NT, Terri-ann’s role is to advocate for the Territory, ensuring that it has a program relevant to local needs. She says that what works well in other states, may not always be right for the NT market. Over the last four years and particularly the last financial year, she has played a critical role in significantly growing the profile of AICD as well as a community of directors within the NT. She is an active not-for-profit Director herself and does so as a meaningful way of giving back to the community.

I believe if I continue to raise the importance of good governance through appropriate development opportunities this will assist in ensuring ongoing sustainable community benefits.
Terri-ann Maney

Ilana Eldridge — Cast Your Net Consultancy

Telstra Northern Territory For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

From journalist to domestic shelter worker and founder of an NGO in Timor Leste, Ilana has held many roles throughout her career. Most recently, she started Cast Your Net Consultancy, which supports emerging Indigenous companies and remote councils with funding, recruitment, cross-cultural understanding and government lobbying. 

Upon request, Ilana has also recently returned to her previous role as CEO of Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation, the representative body of the descendants of the original people of Darwin. During her previous tenure, she took the organisation from insolvency to turning over $8.5 million and grew staff numbers from 30 to 85.

In addition, Ilana managed Indigenous employment on an important school project with Halikos Construction, one of Darwin's largest construction companies. This project has increased Indigenous employment from 0 to 30 per cent.

I truly feel that Australia cannot proceed to greatness without reconciling our shared history, through enabling of Indigenous healing and achieving economic parity and social equality.
Ilana Eldridge

Liz Reid — YouthWorX NT

Telstra Northern Territory For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

Liz Reid is the executive officer of YouthWorX NT, a not-for-profit organisation governed by the NT Industry Training Bureau. The organisation provides education and career development opportunities for young Territorians. YouthWorX NT works closely with educational bodies, businesses and the community to optimise the career potential of all Territorians. As executive officer Liz has many varied roles, including managing diverse programs for youths and the delivery of services to support employability in young people.

Liz is an avid supporter of marginalised groups such as disadvantaged youths, Indigenous Australians and people with disabilities. Liz is no stranger to disability and uses her own experience to advocate for others. She is very passionate and strong in her beliefs, in that everyone should be afforded the same rights regardless to their differences. This has been recognised by the NT community, as she was an ambassador for Disability Awareness Week, which raises awareness of the abilities and achievements of people with a disability and to engage with the wider community to think and act inclusively. 

My fundamental thinking is that all Australians, irrespective of difference, should be afforded the same rights and freedoms as other members of the community.
Liz Reid

Andrea Mason — Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women's Council

Telstra Australian For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist
Telstra Northern Territory For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

Andrea Mason has had a variety of roles in both the public and private sectors, all focused on opening just and fair access to Aboriginal people, through employment, workforce planning, tenancy management and negotiating reconciliation action plans.

In 2009, she was made CEO of the Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) Women's Council. For more than 20 years the NPY Women’s Council has been supporting its members through service delivery, advocacy, education and employment. All services are provided for women and their families to increase their capacity to lead safe and healthy lives with improved life choices, in the NPY tri-state region remote communities.

Due to the nature of the organisation, the range of services on offer and the geographical remoteness of the communities, Andrea has to be very adaptable in her role. On a day-to-day basis she can move from being a policy maker, to a social reformer, a negotiator, an advocate or an inspirational leader. She is also responsible for the 413 members of the Council, who are all women over the age of 16. As an Aboriginal woman herself, she says it is a career highlight to work in an Aboriginal women’s member-led organisation. 

I love being the type of leader that I am because it means I can take communities with me on a journey.
Andrea Mason

Rachel Kroes — Down Syndrome Association NT

Telstra Northern Territory For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

Rachel Kroes is the executive officer of the Down Syndrome Association of the Northern Territory, the only not-for-profit organisation in the NT delivering specialist support and information to families and people living with Down syndrome. In her career she worked in health, broadcasting, law and accounting before veering sharply into the disability sector after acquiring a disability herself.  Married with two children, Rachel says that in her wider family, physical, sensory and intellectual challenges are the norm and not the exception. These lifetime experiences are the inspiration for her belief in the capacity and capability of all people.

Rachel’s knowledge of the Down Syndrome Association spans more than 20 years; as a family member, committee member, employee and now executive officer. One of Rachel’s greatest achievements at the Down Syndrome Association was starting Project21, a post-school learning centre for young people with intellectual disabilities. In 2015, Project21 was recognised in the NT Human Rights Awards for taking action to ensure the promotion, protection and fulfilment of human rights of young people in the Northern Territory.

I revel in creating solutions that achieve multiple goals for many people. I understand challenges and turn problematic situations into practical learning opportunities.
Rachel Kroes

Michelle Walker — Department of Housing

Telstra Northern Territory Public Sector and Academia Award Finalist

Michelle Walker is an independent success. After becoming a mother at 16 and leaving school at the end of Year 11, she began her career in customer service roles. Developing skills in sales, accounting, retail and hospitality her career took an important progression when she began her journey with the Department of Housing in 2000.

The Department of Housing is an agency within the Northern Territory Government, providing subsided housing options to Territorians most in need who are living in remote and urban centres across the NT.

Currently, she is the executive director of Service Delivery North, which sees her managing a team of 113 employees as well as overseeing the development of governance and administration of public policy and protocols.

I am passionate about being a strong resilient leader, using my role as a platform for improving the lives of people who are struggling and facing adversity.
Michelle Walker

Carolyn Edwards — Henbury School

Telstra Australian Public Sector and Academia Award Finalist
Telstra Northern Territory Public Sector and Academia Award Finalist

Carolyn is a devoted educator with more than 31 years of experience in the NT school system. Currently, she is the principal of Henbury School which is a comprehensive specialist high school in Darwin. The school focuses on advocating the rights of students with disabilities, assisting them to achieve autonomy and enabling their participation in the economic, civic and social life of the community.

Under her leadership, the school has transformed into an educational leader and focuses on creating individual pathways for every student. The school empowers students with special needs to pursue their hopes and dreams through an educational program tailored to their needs. 

Leading a team of passionate staff, the school also offers a Transition to Work program that helps provide a range of meaningful opportunities to students.

Each day is an opportunity for me to make a difference in a student’s life.
Carolyn Edwards

Professor Sue Carthew — Charles Darwin University

Telstra Northern Territory Public Sector and Academia Award Finalist

As the pro-vice chancellor of the Faculty of Engineering, Health, Science & the Environment at Charles Darwin University (CDU), and more recently as provost and vice president, Professor Sue Carthew is passionate about education. After completing her PhD in Wollongong NSW, she spent almost 20 years as a lecturer, researcher and mentor across the University of Adelaide’s three campuses before being lured to the tropics and CDU.

Sue is an accomplished academic, who facilitates learning opportunities for students and faculty members, including researcher mentorships and industry leadership training.

Under her guidance, the faculty and university delivers relevant, job-ready education for students and conducts research that makes a difference to the community. Additionally, Sue provides strategic leadership and management for teaching and research across the units of the faculty, and has responsibility for positioning the Faculty and broader university in relation to national and international developments in tertiary education. 

I love mentoring and facilitating excellence in others so they can reach their potential. It’s amazing what people can achieve with a little positive support.
Professor Sue Carthew

Andrea Moriarty — Killarney Homes (NT) Pty Ltd

Telstra Australian Corporate and Private Award Finalist
Telstra Northern Territory Corporate and Private Award Finalist

After spending 16 years working as a nurse, Andrea Moriarty, decided to steer her career in an entirely new direction. Wanting to work in a family-friendly environment, she joined her brother’s construction firm, Killarney Homes, which builds eco-efficient housing adapted to the Territory’s tropical climate. It was an opportunity for her to use her people and project management skills in a completely different way. 

In her role as the client services director, a fairly unique role in residential construction, Andrea is the interface between the client and the construction team. She ensures that the client understands the building process, as well as expected work and deadlines, and translates the client’s concerns back to her team.

Andrea sits on several industry boards in order to expand her business experiences, and to have the opportunity to influence the direction of construction at a high level.

Killarney Homes won the 2014 Telstra Northern Territory Medium Business Award.

Building a family home is often one of people’s most important decisions. I believe I can make it a fantastic experience and one that can be a very affirming moment in their lives.
Andrea Moriarty

Neilia Ginnane — Housing Industry Association Ltd

Telstra Northern Territory Corporate and Private Award Finalist

Neilia Ginnane is the executive director of Housing Industry Association (HIA), NT, a national not-for-profit organisation, which provides lobbying, members services and training for builders and related professionals in the residential building industry. Highly regarded, HIA is consulted in the first instance by government for input into policy reviews and developments.

Neilia is responsible for all aspects of the HIA business in the NT, including national and local strategy implementation, and growing the HIA business in the NT to become a self-sustainable region within the national organisation. She has brought to the business a customer first focus which has been instrumental in continuously improving the product and ensuring the best outcome for members. In a largely male-dominated industry, Neilia’s team is bucking the trend as an all-female team, and is successfully building strong credibility with all stakeholders.

Neilia is also the Chairperson for the Work Health and Safety Council NT, a member of the Northern Territory Training Commission, and sits on the NT Business Council. 

I have always had a passion for developing others and delivering the best possible service, and they are two key elements that I believe a successful business needs.
Neilia Ginnane

Ruth Palmer — Property Council of Australia

Telstra Northern Territory Corporate and Private Award Finalist

With her government experience working for the Opposition’s Office with former leader Delia Lawrie, Ruth Palmer was sought out to take over the running of the NT Division of the Property Council of Australia. The Council is the leading advocate for the property industry, championing the interests of more than 2,200 member companies that represents the full spectrum of the industry.

In her role as the executive director of the NT Division, Ruth fights for and delivers policy outcomes that keep the Northern Territory and the rest of Australia growing and make it a great place to invest. She develops policy, advocates these to government and communicates the Council’s position to policy makers, its members and the media. She represents the property industry in meetings with the Government and local government representatives and she is also on board committees and Government working groups, striving to influence decisions related to property. 

I have surprised myself with what I have achieved in the last few years. It really is amazing what you can do when you set your mind to it and when a role is both challenging and fulfilling.
Ruth Palmer

Kim-Louise Liddell — Non Destructive Excavations Australia Pty Ltd

Telstra New South Wales Entrepreneur Award Finalist

As the sole founder and director of Non Destructive Excavations Australia, Kim-Louise Liddell says she saves lives by protecting live underground assets: optical fibres, gas mains, electrical conduits, water pipes and other buried utilities that provide the population with our daily conveniences. When construction companies want to expand their networks, buildings, infrastructures, roads and rail systems, they call upon Kim’s business to identify and locate the underground services. The risk of hitting live buried services within highly congested cities is extremely dangerous and can have devastating effects.

Kim has built a business around managing this risk by safely exposing underground services, which is essential for community growth and progress. Using the latest technology, her business’ services include hydro-vacuum excavation for pot-holing, pier hole excavations, trenching in and around buried services, heritage tree excavation as well as electronic service location. 

Since its inception in 2005, Kim has grown her company from a team of two to 20 and from one vacuum truck, to a fleet of six vacuum trucks, two tippers, several light vehicles, and an asphalting truck.

I am strongly focussed on my accountability and powerful influence within my business and believe that I must live, breathe and act as a brilliant role model that inspires my team to consistently exceed our customers’ expectations.
Kim-Louise Liddell

Irene Falcone — Nourished Life

Telstra Australian Entrepreneur Award Finalist
Telstra New South Wales Entrepreneur Award Finalist

After spending 10 years in senior marketing roles for some the world’s largest companies, Irene Falcone created her own business to fill a gap she saw for trusted, environmentally-friendly beauty products. 

She created Nourished Life to provide sustainable, eco-friendly, natural personal care, beauty, home and lifestyle products  – all backed by substantiated information.

As a founder and CEO of Nourished Life, Irene sets the direction, vision and culture of the company. She leads, inspires and empowers her growing team made up of more than 20 working mums. As a 100 per cent owner, she is responsible for all management decisions from creative direction to financial planning. 

Irene’s proudest achievement so far has been to successfully take her online-only business to a bricks-and-mortar retail store with a large warehouse, office space, and on-site naturopathy service.

Irene was a finalist in the 2015 Telstra Business Women’s Awards and Nourished Life was a finalist in the 2016 Telstra Business Awards.

I’ve created an ongoing solution for the health-conscious community, a solution for the environment and an opportunity for local mums wanting to return to the workforce.
Irene Falcone

Matina Jewell — Matina Jewell Enterprises

Telstra New South Wales Entrepreneur Award Finalist

Matina Jewell inspires change as an international keynote speaker, facilitator, coach, mentor and author. She shares learnings from her 15-year career in the Army, as one of the most highly decorated females in Australian military history. 

Since retiring from the military after suffering debilitating war injuries, Matina has since served as an advisor to the Prime Minister on defence and veterans issues. Her work in this role has enabled positive change for serving and retired defence members and has highlighted among the Department of Veterans’ Affairs the importance of addressing mental health and specific issues that touch young and female veterans. 

Matina started public speaking five years ago, helping to provide perspective and inspire a sense of purpose in the corporate world, sharing her learnings from active duty and how they may apply. Her key focus areas are leadership and culture, change and resilience. She says that through this work, she is able to help educate and inspire current and the next generation of leaders, showcase the great work of our soldiers and honour the memory of fallen team-mates, and give back as a philanthropist. 

I share hope, to inspire the young and remind those of us older what is possible even amidst adversity. That out of change can come incredible opportunities if we have courage to pursue them.
Matina Jewell

Jacqueline Arias — República Organic

Telstra New South Wales Entrepreneur Award Finalist

During a trip to her native Colombia in 2005, Jacqueline Arias had a light-bulb moment that led to the creation of organic coffee company, República Organic. After seeing the fate of local farmers being treated unfairly, she resigned from her job as a journalist at the ABC to create an ethical company that guarantees farmers a fair deal. She has since grown that business into Australia’s number one organic coffee company, sold in more than 1,700 Coles and Woolworths supermarkets across the country. 

Jacqueline says that coffee is the most highly traded tropical agricultural product, yet many of the 25 million coffee farmers who depend on it for their livelihood make little to no money from their efforts. República Organic’s products are certified organic, Fairtrade, and sustainable. Jacqueline’s vision for her company is to become Australia’s most ethical food brand. Since launching, Jacqueline has expanded the business into drinking chocolate and raw superfoods. 

As the CEO of Australia’s most ethical beverage business, I am changing the hearts and minds of Australians to buy organic and Fairtrade products because it is better for us and the planet.
Jacqueline Arias

Emma Bannister — Presentation Studio

Telstra New South Wales Entrepreneur Award Finalist

Arriving in Australia from the UK, Emma’s love for creativity and design led her to turn her passion for beautiful, memorable and engaging presentations into a business. She founded Presentation Studio in 2006. 

A decade on, as founder and CEO, Emma manages more than 30 staff who write, design and produce presentations for large and small organisations across the Asia Pacific. From content creation and delivery through to visual design, Presentation Studio delivers a suite of services to help ideas stand out. 

 Having recently taken a step back from the day-to-day running of the business, Emma is now focused on advancing her vision of transforming the culture of presentations among the business community through speaking engagements and media opportunities. A key part of this thought leadership strategy is the distribution of content through ‘Presentation Guru’, which is an independent digital magazine that she co-founded.

Emma was a finalist in the 2015 Telstra Business Women’s Awards. 

I’m passionate about presentations because we give people the power to influence. I see the difference we make for start-ups, charities, corporations & individuals’ careers when speakers have the confidence and tools to present to their audience.
Emma Bannister

Abarna Raj — Palmera

Telstra New South Wales For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

In 2004, Abarna Raj was working in the consulting industry when she witnessed first-hand the ‘Boxing Day’ tsunami which devastated coastlines in 14 countries bordering the Indian Ocean, killing 230,000 people in what is considered one of the deadliest natural disasters in recorded history.

Abarna set up Palmera straight after as a volunteer organisation dedicated to addressing to the immediate needs of the populations impacted by the disaster.

After a decade working with Palmera and the wider sector, including NGOs and corporates, she identified a growing gap in the support being offered to the rural entrepreneurs and farmers. In response to this, she reinvented Palmera in 2014 as a grassroots international agency to address this critical challenge. 

With an initial pilot program in Sri Lanka that spans over 2,000 entrepreneurs, Palmera’s approach is to work with an entire village over a five year period to support their inclusion into the economic mainstream, increase income, and build the capacity for long-term change. Abarna hopes to scale the model to contribute to the global social problem.

I believe that the best way to end poverty and aid dependence is to build economic self-sufficiency. If we are truly going to end poverty, we need to shift the dial from dependence to charity, to choice and dignity where families can stand on their own two feet.
Abarna Raj

Janelle Goulding — City West Housing

Telstra New South Wales For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

Janelle Goulding strongly believes that everyone has the right to be safe and have shelter; it is a belief she advances as a reality in her role as CEO of City West Housing.  The not-for-profit organisation offers affordable housing for rent, to low and moderate income earners. Currently, City West Housing provides homes for more than 1,400 people in Sydney. 

Janelle says that the median house price in Sydney currently exceeds one million dollars, and home ownership is not a realistic option for the average person. She says that one of the organisation’s key objectives is to keep people out of the social housing system by providing more quality and affordable accommodation, and keeping people living in areas close to where they work so as to maintain employment.

When Janelle joined the organisation in 2012 it needed a strategic vision to increase its property portfolio and enable it to build more housing developments. Under her leadership, Janelle restructured the business, employed people with similar social ideals and secured more than six new developments, which by the end of 2017 will house more than 1,000 additional people.

My vision is to continually develop, build and manage affordable housing in Sydney and continue to create innovative developments that will meet the changing needs of our communities.
Janelle Goulding

Jenni Seton — Redkite

Telstra New South Wales For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

Jenni is the CEO of Redkite, a national charity providing financial, emotional and educational support to children, young people and their families who are impacted by cancer. Its hospital and community services include social workers, music therapists, career support, tele-group counselling for families and bereavement support.

Jenni’s proudest achievement was leading the merger and rebranding of little-known state organisations, helping hundreds of families into a unified national charity that now supports thousands.

In the past five years, Redkite has made significant headway in bridging the gap in need, going from reaching one in five teenagers and young adults at diagnosis to one in two. Jenni has led Redkite to double its service to families and nearly double its fundraising.

Jenni is a strong advocate of collaboration in the sector, including with other key children’s charities and national research groups.   

I love leading a charity that has professionals and volunteers working alongside each other knowing exactly what we stand for, why we exist and are unified towards achieving our vision of reaching all children and young people with cancer.
Jenni Seton

Petrea King — Quest for Life Foundation

Telstra New South Wales For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

Chronic pain from crippling arthritis and having nearly died from leukaemia are just some of the reasons that led Petrea King down her career path of wanting to help people suffering significant life challenges. In 1989, Petrea established the Quest for Life Foundation which provides resources, community workshops and retreats for people living with chronic disease, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. 

Petrea is the CEO and founder of the Foundation and is responsible for maintaining the vision of the organisation. It is her responsibility to ensure she and her staff work effectively together to create a safe, nurturing environment for all of the people who seek their services. Petrea has worked hard to ensure that the Foundation’s Quest for Life Centre is a safe haven for people seeking ways to heal the past, build resilience for the future and live more contentedly in the present. 

Since Petrea launched the organisation, Quest for Life Foundation has welcomed more than 110,000 people at workshops and retreats. 

The Foundation provides confidential, compassionate and wise counsel to thousands of people who are confronted by life’s unexpected traumas and tragedies.
Petrea King

Anne Bryce — Achieve Australia

Telstra Australian For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist
Telstra New South Wales For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

Anne Bryce has spent over 30 years working within the disability, human services and health sectors. Following a variety of management roles, she was appointed CEO of Hornsby Challenge in 2003 (later renamed Achieve Foundation) and led the organisation through significant growth and a merger with another equal-sized disability organisation in 2009.

Achieve Australia is a not-for-profit leader in the provision of disability services, with a vision of social inclusion for people living with a disability. Services include specialist disability accommodation, health and wellbeing support, social education and personal development for independence, and the development of skills for employment and volunteering opportunities. 

In 2014, Anne led the devolution of a large residential centre housing people with disability called the Crowle Home and closed the site. The project was undertaken in order to improve the quality of life of former residents and involved negotiations with multiple levels of government and stakeholders. 

In addition to her role at Achieve Australia, Anne is also a board member of National Disability Services (NDS), the industry peak body for non-government disability services organisations, as well as Chair of the NSW Division of NDS. 

I support adults living with a disability to live valued and meaningful lives.
Anne Bryce

Sally-Ann Williams — Google

Telstra New South Wales Corporate and Private Award Finalist

Sally-Ann Williams is an executive program manager on the engineering team at Google. In her portfolio she looks after five important areas: CS (computer science) and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) outreach and engagement start-up and entrepreneur engagement and university research and relations. Through her portfolio, as well as Google’s programs and partnerships, Sally-Ann and her team seek to provide assistance and support at every point in the education system. They work on programs that integrate STEM disciplines with other learning areas so people can see the real world outcomes of STEM education.    

Sally-Ann says that it is estimated that 75 per cent of all future jobs will require STEM skills, particularly in the technology and CS spaces. She also says that it is estimated that tech start-ups have the potential to add $109 billion to the economy and more than 540 thousand jobs. 

Her work in CS and STEM education in Australia and New Zealand has been instrumental in creating national and lasting change in curriculum (primary, secondary and university) as well as aiding the professional development of teachers.

If we are want to ensure the economic prosperity of Australia’s future it is critical that we have a highly skilled and engaged workforce in STEM. This starts in primary school.
Sally-Ann Williams

Vivienne Bower — Lendlease

Telstra New South Wales Corporate and Private Award Finalist

Vivienne Bower has held senior positions in communications for the past ten years of her career, moving to an executive role with Lendlease four years ago. Lendlease is an international property and infrastructure group. As the group head of corporate affairs, Vivienne is responsible for the overall direction, strategy and management of the Corporate Affairs function globally.

In this role, Vivienne has overseen a successful transformation of the Corporate Affairs function, resulting in a significant improvement in the company’s overall reputation. When she began at Lendlease in 2012, she measured the company’s reputation through the AMR reputation index at 55.8, she set about driving change and now four years on the index is at 65.7. This significant increase has closed the gap between Lendlease and other top 50 ASX listed companies.

In addition, Vivienne is the global Chair of the Lendlease Diversity and Inclusion Council, which gives her the opportunity to drive her personal passion about gender equality and inclusion across the Lendlease business as a whole. 

As a leader, I have learned that you must celebrate success with your team and enjoy reaching key milestones along the journey to keep you motivated and engaged.
Vivienne Bower

Sarah Hunter — Virbac Animal Health

Telstra New South Wales Corporate and Private Award Finalist

Sarah Hunter completed an agricultural science degree at the University of Sydney before heading to the UK, where she worked in the specialist insurance market of Lloyd’s of London. Upon her return to Australia, she ran an industrial bakery and retail outlets before revisiting her agricultural roots by starting in a new position at Virbac Animal Health. She moved her way through the ranks to the position she is in currently, commercial manager. 

Virbac Animal Health is a global organisation that researches, develops, manufactures and markets products for Australian livestock and pets. The core business is parasiticides (veterinary medicine to kill parasites) for cattle, sheep, horses, dogs and cats; along with vaccines, injectable trace minerals and specialty veterinary medications.

As commercial manager, Sarah is responsible for the development and implementation of sustainable business strategies in agribusiness and veterinary pet care. 

One the most significant changes that she has brought about in the business is the removal of departmental boundaries to eliminate silos and create a culture of unity in the delivery of customer satisfaction. 

My hallmark is the development of innovative and collaborative business models which seek to leverage team strengths.
Sarah Hunter

Melanie Hilton — Macquarie Group

Telstra New South Wales Corporate and Private Award Finalist

After graduating with Bachelor Degree in Commerce, Melanie Hilton decided to pursue a career in financial services. From frontline business and corporate banking roles, she progressed to leadership positions, where she sought to drive change via greater influence and impact. She is currently the COO of Macquarie Business Banking and is responsible for ensuring a successful balance between strong risk management, sustainable business and financial performance. 

Melanie is the most senior female leader within the business banking division and takes her role very seriously. She invests significant time, thought, energy and tangible actions into developing the non-director female population.

Not long after joining Macquarie, Melanie set about creating a bespoke program to support women to progress into senior leadership positions. SHINE is a six-month experiential program that brings together small cohorts of women in an accelerated environment to drive personal and professional development through a mentor system, structured events and one-on-one coaching. 

I am unapologetic about my unwavering commitment to equality, and have a ‘cheer squad’ who are instrumental in my motivation and inspiration. The very essence of me is knowing that I did it right, that I was fair and played fair and won.
Melanie Hilton

Jackie McArthur — Martin Brower

Telstra Australian Corporate and Private Award Finalist
Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year Finalist
Telstra New South Wales Business Woman of the Year Finalist
Telstra New South Wales Corporate and Private Award Finalist

In 1994, Jackie McArthur began her supply chain career at FJ Walker Foods, and over the next seven years she continued in the logistics, food manufacturing and supply chain industry before she joined McDonald's Australia in 2001. By 2012, she was appointed Corporate Vice President of Supply Chain for McDonald's Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, which included overseeing the entire supply function across 38 countries. 

Last year she returned to Martin Brower (previously FJ Walker Foods) as Managing Director Australia and New Zealand, where she supervises the end-to-end logistics and supply chain for more than 1,100 McDonald's restaurants. Her cross-functional experience, from supply chain to real estate and construction to menu development and marketing, has provided her with the diverse skill-set required to excel in leadership. 

Driving a more diverse workforce, particularly in the male-dominated industry of transport and logistics, is a key passion of Jackie’s. Together with her colleagues, she is forging a new path of diversity in the organisation.

All of the roles I have had were the result of someone believing in me being able to take a step outside of what I was good at. Someone has to believe in you enough to take a calculated risk. It is now my privilege to be able to do this for others.
Jackie McArthur

Jane Burhop — Common Ventures

Telstra New South Wales Young Business Women's Award Finalist

In 2012, Jane Burhop and three partners founded an advertising agency called Common Ventures. Strategically curious and creatively rebellious, the business is built from a collective group of thinkers who look for interesting ways to solve diverse problems. Four years on, they remain 100 per cent independent, employ 12 full-time staff and continue to exponentially increase annual revenue and profits year upon year.

Jane is currently transitioning from a creative director role into General Manager. Stepping into this new role will give her the chance to express her creativity, while also supporting the operations and build efficiencies within the business. 

Outside of this, she is the youngest female to take up a position on the AWARD (Australasian Writers and Art Directors Association) Council, a peak body that represents agencies in the marketing communications industry. Since joining, she has helped set-up Power of 10: a mentoring program for female creatives to address diversity issues within the advertising industry. 

I am passionate about redefining female leadership at the very top of the corporate ladder by creating a work environment and developing business initiatives that give people independence, fulfilment and happiness
Jane Burhop

Gina Lednyak — L&A Social

Telstra Australian Young Business Women's Award Finalist
Telstra New South Wales Young Business Women's Award Finalist

Gina Lednyak was born and raised in the USSR. In 1991, political unrest forced her family to flee Belarus for New York City. Her ambition showed at an early age as she taught herself to speak English by reading books. This led her to being accepted to a prestigious technical high school where she studied engineering. Upon graduating, she undertook a degree in psychology at Boston University before relocating to Sydney in 2007.

She quickly recognised an opportunity in the local market and began L&A Social, a full service strategic social media and digital agency. It specialises in digital strategy and implementation with a strong focus on creative content execution, analytics and consumer behaviour. Over the past several years L&A has doubled in size and revenue each year, and today is composed of a dynamic team of 15 people, with more than 50 clients. 

As the founder and CEO, Gina is responsible for strategic business growth, finances, HR, team development and overall business strategy. The company is thriving under her leadership and is profitable enough to take on significant non-profit pro bono work.

I love what I do because I get to create a positive environment where my team gets to express themselves, innovate, occasionally stumble, continually learn and create deep value for the clients we work with.
Gina Lednyak

Jessie Mitchell — Amicus Digital

Telstra New South Wales Young Business Women's Award Finalist

Jessie Mitchell moved to Australia from New Zealand for a graduate role at IBM. Three years and three roles later she was recruited to help set up ExactTarget in Australia. ExactTarget is a cloud-based marketing software company and Jessie played an instrumental role in its growth and in securing its market leader position. Following the company’s acquisition by cloud computing giant, Salesforce, Jessie became one of the company’s youngest sales leaders. 

In search of a new challenge, Jessie became the co-founder of Amicus Digital. Amicus Digital is a team of experts within digital marketing, helping clients make sense of the best marketing technologies available to them. In just 18 months, Amicus Digital is now 17 people strong with sales of over $2 million in its first full financial year.

As Client Service Director and active member of the Board, Jessie plays an integral role in shaping the vision for the business, strategic direction and planning. This includes budgeting, resourcing, market positioning and growth strategies. 

I understand that I am only as good as my team and I pride myself on their success. I am passionate about helping others and we have created a culture where teamwork is everything and which reinforces strategic partnerships with our clients.
Jessie Mitchell

Ruth Lewis-Jones — Esteem Designz & ChooseREAL Campaign

Telstra New South Wales Young Business Women's Award Finalist

In 2012, Ruth Lewis-Jones founded Esteem Designz which creates solutions and provides creative resources for building self-esteem, identity and confidence in pre- teen girls to young female adults. It delivers interactive activities to schools, welfare organisations and individuals to engage, equip and empower girls.

The Esteem Designz Program has resourced more than 250 schools, welfare and community organisations across Australia, which has been used by more than 2,500 girls and those around them. A further 105,000 girls have been reached through free online resources and the global ChooseREAL campaign.

Ruth has self-funded the whole program and initiatives, investing more than $100,000, in her aim to find creative solutions to impact, expand and raise awareness for her cause. Additionally, she has worked full-time unpaid on this social enterprise for the past five years, as she is so passionate about making a difference in young women’s lives.

I love recognising and developing the potential in young women, helping them to believe in themselves and not rely on others for acceptance or approval. It's a privilege to journey alongside and help them discover their self-worth and confidence
Ruth Lewis-Jones

Turia Pitt — Turia Pitt International

Telstra New South Wales Young Business Women's Award Finalist

Turia Pitt graduated from the University of New South Wales in 2010 with first class honours and a double degree in mining engineering and environmental science. This earned her a scholarship with Rio Tinto and a job at the prestigious Argyle Diamond Mine. However, her career was suddenly put on hold in 2011 when she entered an ultra-marathon in the Kimberley region. During the race she was trapped by a grassfire and suffered burns to 65 per cent of her body. 

Over the past five years, Turia has pain-stakingly rebuilt her life. She has not let her injuries define her; they have empowered her to take action. She has completed an Ironman competition, been one of the four people selected to compete at the World Championships of Ironman and launched her School of Champions, an online goal setting course. On top of all of this, she is a highly-sought after motivational speaker and the author of best-selling book Everything to Live for. 

She is also a keen fundraiser having raised almost a million dollars for Interplast, a not-for-profit that sends teams of health professionals to provide life-changing surgery and medical training in 17 countries across the Asia Pacific region.

I'm always told that I'm inspirational but it's a word that in my eyes, is over-used - inspiration is nothing without action. And so when it comes to why I do what I do it's pretty simple: I do it because I want to inspire people to take action.
Turia Pitt

Patrice Brown — CQG Consulting

Telstra Australian Entrepreneur Award Finalist
Telstra Queensland Entrepreneur Award Finalist

Patrice Brown is a woman of many passions: a business and commercial property owner, cattle producer, mother of three and advocate for the protection of environmental and cultural values and land rights. With qualifications in engineering, science and business she is passionate about the future of regional Australia and the need to trust science in the race to protect the Great Barrier Reef.

Patrice established CQG Consulting which provides practical environmental planning, precision drone services and engineering professional advice to clients throughout Australia and Southeast Asia in the tourism, mining, agriculture, development and industrial sectors.

Patrice is also a director on the CQUniversity Council, the Gladstone Area Water Board, and a founding director of two start-ups. Northern Ventures is a company that supports Aboriginal groups to achieve economic independence and Fortitude Infrastructure Development a company formed to deliver green technologies. 

Growing up in remote Queensland I learnt early that every day presents new opportunities that are more likely achieved by optimism, team work and a desire to make a difference.
Patrice Brown

Melissa Marsden — Marsden Collective

Telstra Queensland Entrepreneur Award Finalist

Just over three years ago, Melissa Marsden launched Marsden Collective, a creative design firm that infuses interior design with business strategy, creating workplace environments for businesses. Melissa is the chief creative director and leads a team of interior designers. She is also a workplace strategist, meaning she takes into consideration both physical and human factors before developing a workplace environment. Melissa says that at Marsden Collective they are committed to designing spaces conducive to physical and emotional wellbeing.

Melissa is responsible for establishing relationships with clients, becoming their trusted advisor, strategically analysing their business and then setting the direction for their project implementation.

Although initially starting the business out of her spare bedroom, Melissa has managed to grow Marsden Collective considerably over the last few years. She now has a team of 10, is working on multi-million dollar projects across Australia for global companies and is experiencing year-on-year annual growth.  

I love working with aspiring businesses who care about their people and are truly invested in the possibility that a well-designed space can create greater success for their business and enhanced cultural aspects for their people.
Melissa Marsden

Tanya Titman — Consolid8

Telstra Queensland Entrepreneur Award Finalist

Tanya Titman is an accountant on a mission to change the lives of as many business women as she can by improving their financial literacy.  She says that when women understand their numbers and how to use them to drive business strategy, amazing things happen.

As part of her accounting business, Consolid8, Tanya launched a 12-month business program called Acceler8, specifically targeting business women, to empower them with the knowledge of numbers. The program aims to financially educate participants by making complex concepts easy to understand for business owners who have little to no training in finance and accounting.

Tanya started the program in Sydney five years ago and recently expanded to Brisbane with impressive results. The program guarantees a 30 per cent improvement in profitability over 12 months, but Tanya says that most businesses far exceed this goal. 

I empower business owners with information and give them the confidence to be able to understand the drivers of their business and financial impact of every decision they make.
Tanya Titman

Penelope Twemlow — Energy Skills Queensland

Telstra Australian For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist
Telstra Queensland For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

Penelope Twemlow’s career started in the Australian Defence Force, where she was involved in projects and deployments around Australia and Southeast Asia. After she left the Defence Force, she held senior positions in the mining, oil and gas sectors before being appointed CEO of Energy Skills Queensland, in 2015. 

Energy Skills Queensland is an independent, not-for-profit organisation providing innovative solutions to enable a skilled and safe energy industry.

Penelope is ultimately responsible for the day-to-day management, decisions and for implementing the company’s short and long-term plans. She is also accountable to the Board of Directors and communicates on behalf of the company to members, employees, government authorities, other stakeholders and the public. 

In addition, she has also recently graduated from the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is currently the founder and Chair of Women in Power, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes and improves the electrical and electro-technology industry by the advancement of women within it. She is also the Chair of the Electrical Safety Education Committee and the Gladstone Energy and Maintenance Training Centre.  

An organisation’s success depends on its people. Human capital is an organisation’s number one resource, so I enjoy making sure my team are consistently engaged and happy. Return on investment benefits all of us and the company.
Penelope Twemlow

Vicki Batten — FSG Australia

Telstra Queensland For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

Vicki Batten is a passionate human rights activist, who believes in equal opportunity for all. She has worked at FSG Australia since 1995 in a program development role and as assistant manager to the CEO, before successfully acquiring the CEO position herself in 2001.

FSG Australia is a social enterprise that specialises in making a positive difference in the lives of those people affected by disability, mental illness, age-related frailty, dementia and child safety issues.

FSG Australia is partly government funded but 25 per cent of turnover is self-generated, meaning it is able to deliver highly responsive and bespoke solutions to communities whose needs are not being met in traditional ways.

Vicki has a diploma of Professional Counselling and loves working very closely with families. She has written a book called ‘Putting the Joy Back into Parenting’ and a manual called ‘I’m Ok’, for teachers struggling with disengaged youth. 

I subscribe heavily to the ‘give people a fishing line, not a fish’ theory and spend my days helping everyone at FSG to understand what that means.
Vicki Batten

Rochelle Courtenay — Share the Dignity

Telstra Queensland For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

When Rochelle Courtenay found out some women in Australia do not have access to sanitary products, she was shocked. She couldn’t believe this could happen in Australia and found it harder to believe that the problem hadn’t already been addressed. So she took action and launched Share the Dignity. 

Share the Dignity is a national registered charity that works to ensure that no woman has to choose between buying food or sanitary items. She says that sanitary items should be a right and not a privilege and that her work matters because it gives Australian women dignity when they need it most.

They have sanitary collection drives twice a year at more than 1,500 different collection points around Australia and have collected more than 400,000 packets of pads and tampons. They also run a drive around Christmas called ‘It’s in the bag’, where women donate a pre-loved handbag filled with personal care products that many take for granted such as shampoo, deodorant and toothpaste. 

I am committed to supporting at-risk women in Australia. My vision for Share the Dignity was for women to help other women to make a difference because everyone deserves an opportunity to succeed.
Rochelle Courtenay

Meagan Cross — Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics Australia

Telstra Queensland For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

When Meagan Cross found out her 13-month-old daughter, Molly, was diagnosed with the rare genetic disease, Angelman Syndrome, she felt isolated, confused and helpless.

This was in part due to the lack of information about the disease and so she co-founded the Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics (FAST) to provide other families the support she felt was missing. 

FAST is a charity that is dedicated to funding research to find treatments for Angelman Syndrome and to ultimately find a cure. Meagan’s goal for FAST was to address the lack of knowledge and understanding about the disease by creating a global online Angelman Syndrome registry, which they are now on the cusp of launching. The registry will be invaluable in increasing understanding and moving forward research and upcoming clinical trials.

Meagan says that before FAST there was no mechanism to foster and disseminate research information to create a better future for Australian families with a loved one with Angelman Syndrome. Through FAST, families can now support each other in fundraising, sharing achievements and struggles, alleviating feelings of isolation. 

I am passionate about raising awareness and funding research into Angelman Syndrome so that families who receive this unfortunate diagnosis have a solid understanding of what it will mean for them and empower them to make a difference within their community.
Meagan Cross

Galila Abdelsalam — Islamic Women's Association of Queensland Inc

Telstra Queensland For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

After volunteering at her local community centre in Queensland, Galila Abdelsalam identified a number of unmet needs for Muslim women, leading her to found the Islamic Women’s Association of Queensland Inc (IWAQ) in 1991. IWAQ is a not-for-profit organisation that provides services to meet community needs with a specific focus on culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.

IWAQ provides services to support people with disability, elderly people living on their own, and settlement services to help newly arrived migrants and refugees. IWAQ also offers programs such as English acquisition, women’s leadership skills, early intervention programs to address issues such as domestic violence, and support to vulnerable young people who are at risk of becoming radicalised. 

In the last five years, Galila opened the Salam Respite Cottage which provides overnight and short-term care of elderly and disabled people, allowing their carers to take a break. As a carer to her husband, Galila appreciates the demands of the job. 

In addition, she has recently expanded the services to the Gold Coast and is in the process of setting up an office in Sydney.

Both my personal views and values of IWAQ are focused on addressing some of the stereotypes associated with Muslims and breaking down some of the barriers, which is more important than ever.
Galila Abdelsalam

Rae Priaulx — The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital

Telstra Queensland For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

Registered Nurse, Rae Priaulx, has been the director of nursing at The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital for the past eight years. She has played an integral role in growing the service from 141 to 190 beds, expanding the maternity department, introducing a rehabilitation service and rebuilding the mental health facility. 

Her responsibilities are to provide a culture of care and professionalism while implementing the strategic clinical vision of excellent patient care. Rae continuously looks for innovative pathways to improve business efficiency. For example, together with her specialist team, she implemented a new cardiac admission pathway which enables heart attack patients to be admitted directly to the hospital’s Heart Centre, rather than the emergency department.

In her previous role as acting general manager / director of nursing for St Stephen’s Hospital, the first fully integrated digital hospital in Australia, she was exposed to innovative health care technology that continues to inspire her in her current role. At The Sunshine Coast Private Hospital, she implemented an electronic patient tracking system which improved patient workflow, including enabling families to see live updates on progress from the operating theatre.

The best part of my role is the privilege of developing future health care leaders. If I can inspire someone to step up, provide them with a leadership opportunity or project to learn and grow their confidence, it makes my whole day shine.
Rae Priaulx

Professor Hilary Winchester — CQUniversity Australia

Telstra Queensland Public Sector and Academia Award Finalist

Throughout her career, Professor Hilary Winchester has gained a deep understanding and knowledge of the higher education sector, and is a recognised expert in quality assurance within the industry. She has received awards for widening learning opportunities for disadvantaged groups and for enhancing quality educational provision. 

She has held senior positions at the universities of Newcastle and South Australia and is currently provost and acting vice-chancellor at CQUniversity Australia, leading the higher education division. She delivers programs through six schools, manages research grants and projects, and engages with the university’s academic, government, industry and community stakeholders. 

Hilary champions widening participation in academia, through the university’s programs in regional Australia. CQUniversity is recognised within the Australian higher education sector as the nation’s most engaged and inclusive university, with the highest ratio of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Since she joined CQUniversity, Hilary has instilled a culture of performance, significantly raising teaching quality, support of research students and research outcomes. 

I strive to improve and develop strategies, creative policies and structures to make learning, teaching and research the best it can be, in order to provide the best learning experience for students and a satisfying environment for staff.
Professor Hilary Winchester

Professor Jan Thomas — University of Southern Queensland

Telstra Queensland Public Sector and Academia Award Finalist

Professor Jan Thomas is an accomplished academic. She holds multiple qualifications including a PhD in Veterinary Science. 

Jan worked as an academic veterinarian before assuming senior management roles across multiple areas at two universities. In 2012, Jan was appointed Vice-Chancellor and President at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ).

Similar to a CEO, Jan is responsible for leading and managing the university’s academic, administrative and financial affairs. She is accountable for the management and welfare of all staff and students, and for shaping USQ's reputation.

Under her leadership, USQ has ranked well above world standard across several research areas, demonstrates strong financial performance, delivers outstanding graduate outcomes and has achieved award-winning staff engagement results. Jan believes an organisation’s success depends on its people and has developed senior leadership models that promote change, encourage advancement and celebrate success.

Jan holds Chairs of the London-based Managing Council of the Association of Commonwealth Universities; Regional Universities Network and Queensland’s State Library and is a member of the Queensland Futures Council.

I am committed to the progressive roles of universities and to their research and education innovations that help shape global economies.
Professor Jan Thomas

Inspector Virginia Nelson — Queensland Police Service

Telstra Australian Public Sector and Academia Award Finalist
Telstra Queensland Public Sector and Academia Award Finalist

Inspector Virginia Nelson has been a police officer for more than 26 years, having joined the Queensland Police Service (QPS) at 18. She has served in regional and metropolitan locations and has worked in front-line policing, prosecutions, the bureau of criminal intelligence and the office of the state coroner. Now, as an inspector, she is in charge of a patrol group of more than 150 officers in the Capricornia Police District.

As a commissioned officer and senior leader, Virginia shapes strategic thinking in the organisation by inspiring a shared sense of purpose and direction for her patrol group. She builds organisational capability and ensures crime trends are identified and operational responses are delivered to the community. She is the single point of contact for operational, tactical and strategic activities within her patrol group.

Virginia is the only female commissioned officer in her area and she contributes significantly to developing the capability of women in policing and growing women in leadership within the organisation.

Having been a police officer for more than a quarter of a century, I love the difference we make in the community. I enjoy being a mentor to younger officers to help them be the best they can be.
Inspector Virginia Nelson

Professor Anita Lee Hong — Queensland University of Technology

Telstra Queensland Public Sector and Academia Award Finalist

As a proud descendant of the Badjalla language group, Anita Lee Hong is passionate about social justice and human rights and enabling access to and participation in education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Anita is an accomplished academic and in 2010, was appointed as the director of Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Oodgeroo Unit which is the centre of the university’s activities in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education, studies and research.

Under her leadership, the Oodgeroo Unit has expanded its profile both within QUT and in the community - state, nationally and internationally. One of her key achievements has been establishing the Indigenous Australian Science and Infrastructure Development (SID) Winter School. It provides a five-day residential program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queensland high school students in grades 10, 11 and 12. The SID Winter School demystifies and encourages an interest in higher education, with a particular focus on science and infrastructure development disciplines.

My mother instilled in me the importance of a good education and I would like to think that I am an influencer to the younger generation. An education is a passport to a career.
Professor Anita Lee Hong

Professor Jenny Martin — Griffith University

Telstra Queensland Public Sector and Academia Award Finalist

Jenny Martin has a successful career in academia, which began early when she was awarded five scholarships and bursaries to undertake a PhD at Oxford. She followed that opportunity by achieving a postdoctoral research position at Bond University and then Rockefeller University, before a move to the University of Queensland. There, she established the first protein crystallography laboratory in the state.

Over her career, she has been awarded four nationally competitive fellowships including an inaugural Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship. Her research is devoted to understanding the molecular basis of disease and applying this knowledge to early-stage drug discovery.

In March 2016, she took on the role of director of the Eskitis Institute for Drug Discovery at Griffith University. She now leads a team of 150 staff and students focused on finding new ways to treat cancer, infectious diseases and neurological diseases.

I love what I do because it is transformative, multidisciplinary, challenging research, and because it's deeply satisfying to contribute to a better world.
Professor Jenny Martin

Tracey Vieira — Screen Queensland

Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year Finalist
Telstra Australian Corporate and Private Award Finalist
Telstra Queensland Business Woman of the Year Finalist
Telstra Queensland Corporate and Private Award Finalist

Tracey Vieira is passionate about the arts and has used her business acumen to turn this interest into a successful career. She spent a decade in Los Angeles as Executive Vice President of International Production for Ausfilm. While abroad, and in partnership with Screen Queensland, she has attracted more than $1.5 billion of production spend to Australia.

In 2014, she relocated her family to Australia to pursue the role of CEO at Screen Queensland. In this role, Tracey is responsible for growing the screen industry’s contribution to the economic and cultural wellbeing of Queensland.

Tracey is passionate about helping the industry transition into a contemporary screen environment as technology rapidly changes how audiences view content. Under Tracey’s guidance, Screen Queensland is now leading the way in Australia, developing stories and content in the digital environment.

Tracey is also a non-executive director of RSPCA Queensland, QMusic and the Sunshine Coast Arts Advisory Board. She also sits on the Board of Advisors for the US based organisation Australians in Film.

It wasn't until I walked into an organisation in crisis that I understood my own strengths and my love for transforming an industry.
Tracey Vieira

Teena Pisarev — Icon Cancer Care

Telstra Queensland Corporate and Private Award Finalist

From a young age, Teena Pisarev knew she was destined to lead and was determined to take every opportunity available to her. Her efforts have paid off, with Teena’s career so far including roles such as manager, general manager and CEO.

In March 2015, Teena commenced as the CEO of Icon Cancer Care, the largest private provider of cancer care in Australia, delivering 78,000 treatments per year. 

Supported by more than 100 specialists and 330 staff, the team at Icon Cancer Care provides world-class treatment for patients with cancer or haematological disorders. This is delivered across seven day hospitals, with a strong reach into regional Queensland via satellite clinics and telehealth.

Teena says designing and establishing the regional cancer centre in Townsville is one of her proudest achievements. It was not only delivered on time and within budget, but is providing vital care to regional Queenslanders. In just three years, it has already exceeded financial and business goals.

I’m a firm believer that leading through inspiration is key to any decision, plan or crisis. I believe my role is to inspire people to understand their role and empower them to deliver nothing but exceptional care.
Teena Pisarev

Kathrina Bryen — Aurizon

Telstra Queensland Corporate and Private Award Finalist

Kathrina Bryen has dedicated more than 25 years of her career to understanding and enabling people to create optimal business practices. She has held a range of ‘people’ roles across a variety of government and corporate entities.

For several years Kathrina has led Aurizon’s cultural transformation work to challenge the long-standing assumptions that Aurizon, Australia’s largest rail based transport business, will always be a male dominated employer. With accountabilities for talent, employment, capability, diversity and inclusion, Kathrina is currently Vice President HR Operations and leads a national team of HR practitioners. She is devoted to working with leaders to drive cultural transformation to produce efficient operations for our customers. 

Kathrina says growing up in the Northern Territory shaped both her career and much of her personal life, which she has dedicated to equity and diversity in education and business. She is also passionate about advancing gender equality globally, and has been actively involved in supporting UN Women through fundraising to support the critical on-the-ground work for women’s economic empowerment in Fiji.

When your passion drives you to deliver and you're genuinely committed and believe in the outcomes, it makes the challenge worthwhile and fulfilling.
Kathrina Bryen

Rebecca He — Good Price Pharmacy

Telstra Queensland Corporate and Private Award Finalist

Rebecca He has a background working in accounting firms, publicly-listed corporations and fast-growing entrepreneurial companies. She completed a Bachelor of Economics and a Law degree in Shanghai, before moving to Australia where she studied a Master of Commerce at the University of Queensland. She also completed the CPA accreditation and an MBA while working full-time. 

In her last position, Rebecca was the financial controller for RACQ group, and is currently CFO at Good Price Pharmacy.

She plays a key role in driving the strategic direction and future vision for the business, by instilling innovation and culture transformation to affect change and deliver sustainable and enduring growth. Good Price Pharmacy is now one of Australia’s leading retailers in health, beauty and medicinal products turning over $300 million each year with 51 locations nationally.

As a first-generation migrant, Rebecca is conscious of the real challenges that people coming into Australia may meet in their professional lives. She champions business success, coaching and mentoring, sharing her experience and learnings to inspire others. 

I feel privileged to be able to align my profession with my value and passion. I am proud to contribute towards enhanced community health outcomes and inspire and empower others to succeed under my leadership.
Rebecca He

Dr Elaine Stead — Blue Sky Alternative Investments

Telstra Queensland Corporate and Private Award Finalist

Dr Elaine Stead completed her PhD at the University of Adelaide, where she trained as a biochemist and stem cell biologist. During this time, she became familiar with the business side of research and innovation, which led to several roles assisting public institutions, companies and founders translate and commercialise their technology across a broad range of industry sectors, including agriculture, healthcare and digital technology.

She is now managing director, Venture Capital, a division of Blue Sky Alternative Investments, an alternative assets fund manager, listed on the ASX, which invests in private equity and venture capital, real assets, property, and hedge funds. In her role, Elaine is responsible for the management of the venture capital fund and portfolio, providing capital, expertise, operational and strategic guidance and networks to help those innovative companies and entrepreneurs grow globally.

Elaine says that as Australia’s economy diversifies away from resources and property, innovation will be the key driver of long-term economic growth. Blue Sky has an exciting role to play during this transition, in helping companies who may be bringing innovations to the market that can have a life-changing impact in people’s lives.

I back innovative companies and entrepreneurs that are developing new solutions and solving hard problems across a broad range of industries. I help them build businesses that make a difference, create jobs and can have a positive impact on our community and Australia’s economic future.
Dr Elaine Stead

Pixie Weyand — The Lost Collective

Telstra Australian Young Business Women's Award Finalist
Telstra Queensland Young Business Women's Award Finalist

Two years ago, Pixie Weyand had nothing but a notebook, a whole head of ideas and the drive to do something with her life. Since then, she has worked tirelessly to create The Lost Collective, an umbrella for several businesses she is in the process of growing. These include: Lost Boys, a small, organic vegetarian, carbon-neutral café in Fortitude Valley; The Tree House, a bar offering local, natural, and organic drinks; The Zoo, an iconic live music venue; Feed Music, an app connecting touring musicians and local cafes and restaurants across the globe to provide healthy meals; and Zoo Tours, which aims to bring quality acts from overseas to Australia.

Pixie is responsible for guiding the businesses using innovation and direction. She oversees all elements of the business and is directly accountable for all the challenges, successes and downfalls that may happen. Through her journey, Pixie has learnt that having a genuine belief in herself meant that she could achieve anything. 

Opening the café led me to where I am now. Everything is a stepping stone to the next thing. Every moment is significant as it leads you to the next one. It is up to you to channel these moments. As long as you are moving forward in some way, you are never going the wrong way.
Pixie Weyand

Jen Geale — Mountain Bikes Direct

Telstra Queensland Young Business Women's Award Finalist

Jen Geale has a background in management consulting and was inspired to start Mountain Bikes Direct when her partner’s local bike shop started facing increasing pressure from international online competition.

Gaining an understanding of the retail cycling industry while working in the shop, she drove the move to create the pure play e-commerce business, focused on mountain bike parts and accessories. 

Mountain Bikes Direct makes it possible for Australian riders to buy from an Australian retailer at prices that are globally competitive. With low overheads, great partnerships with suppliers, streamlined systems and a focus on addressing customer needs, Jen believes it can not only compete in international markets but will also remain a sustainable, thriving business.

As one of four owners, Jen is making the most of her experience in systems and process management to create tools to enable the team to work faster and smarter. 

She also runs the marketing, finances and reporting functions. In addition, she ensures that the warehouse is working to the best of its capacity to enable fast shipping of its products. 

The wonderful thing about cycling retail is that we sell products that encourage people to live healthy lives outdoors. I believe that the more people get out and enjoy the world, the more they will care for it.
Jen Geale

Evette Hess — Makeup Cartel Pty Ltd

Telstra Queensland Young Business Women's Award Finalist

Evette Hess started her makeup business in 2014 while working full time and caring for her young child while her FIFO husband worked on remote mining sites. She had an overwhelming belief that she could find a way to give busy women a glimpse of the empowerment of what comes with professional makeup in their daily lives.

What started as a home business has now become a multi-brand makeup house, called Makeup Cartel that is home to one of the fastest growing makeup brands in Australia, PONi Cosmetics, and is positioned to release a string of cult brands over the next few years.

Evette invests heavily in research and development and the product design process in order to create new, easy-to-use, intuitive products that make makeup easy. The products are sold online and in professional salons in Australia and overseas.

Evette and her business partner, Sandy Ronalds, share the responsibilities of the business. Evette is principally responsible for product and brand development, along with customer engagement via social media and public relations. Educating users and resellers on how to get the best result from their products is also a big part of Evette’s job.

I feel that I truly understand two things very deeply: makeup and women’s emotive needs. This makes me great at product design and identifying what women want in their makeup bag.
Evette Hess

Jessy Cameron — Molten Store

Telstra Queensland Young Business Women's Award Finalist

A bowerbird at heart, Jessy Cameron launched her business, Molten Store, a destination for otherworldly jewellery and accessories, in 2011 at the age of 24.

Originally an online-only store selling products by an array of jewellery designers, Molten Store experienced strong initial growth but soon found itself unable to compete with global e-commerce websites.

Determined to stay true to her vision of creating a utopian destination for lovers of fashion jewellery, Jessy reinvented the Molten Store brand by hosting pop-up stores, sourcing her own unique products rather than selling other brands, and collaborating with artists to design awe-inspiring stores on a tiny budget. Jessy revolutionised the way the brand was presented, winning over her customers' hearts.

Sales improved dramatically and Jessy’s reincarnation of the brand culminated with the launch of the first flagship boutique in 2015. Now with two boutiques and an online store, Molten Store offers an ever changing array of curiosities including jewellery and the brand’s own signature fragrances. It has become a popular destination for special occasion jewellery, with the brand launching a bridal range in 2015.

A visit to Molten Store is a tactile, sensory experience. It is this ethereal, relaxed character that has seen us naturally evolve to become an in-demand destination for lovers of otherworldly jewellery.
Jessy Cameron

Anu Sheela Themudu — iGene Sdn. Bhd.

Telstra Business Woman in Asia Award Finalist

Anu Sheela Themudu is the co-founder of iGene, a pioneering venture in the field of digital autopsy, which is an elegant, easy, humane and state-of-the-art method of performing post mortem without cutting open the deceased body. The visualisation-based software enables a non-destructive, non-invasive method of autopsy, eliminating the need to dissect bodies in more than 70 per cent of cases.

Digital autopsy provides an alternative to fulfil medico-legal requirements, while preserving the dignity of the deceased and avoiding causing further distress for the next of kin.

As a founder, she has been responsible for the strategic management of commercialising the service and developing the company from its inception to a global company. It took eight years of research and development until iGene succeeded in its first commercial sale. Now, the company has expanded into United Kingdom, Middle East and Asia. Currently, there are three facilities across England and a further 10 facilities to be operational by 2018. 

I am proud that through our personal investment and passion we’ve created a platform to provide a modern, technologically-savvy solution to undertake a post-mortem examination, revolutionising the age-old practice.
Anu Sheela Themudu

Kimberley Cole — Thomson Reuters

Telstra Business Woman in Asia Award Finalist

After graduating from Monash University, Kimberley Cole joined Thomson Reuters, the world's largest supplier of news and information to professionals. She now leads the Asian sales team of over 150 specialists focused on delivering solutions across the financial markets. The past three years have seen her team deliver the top sales performance in the company, resulting in Asia being the fastest growing region in the business, delivering $US1.1 billion revenue per year.

Based in Hong Kong, Kimberley’s career has taken her across the globe allowing her to live and work in five cities, giving Kimberley a vast array of experiences. She has held roles from product management to marketing and sales, managing business transformation and turnaround. 

In 2009, she co-founded Women in Finance Asia, connecting networks across financial institutions and most recently Risky Women, a global network championing and celebrating women in governance, risk and compliance.

Additionally, in 2015, Kimberley launched Trust Forum Asia, an annual event designed to take action to stop modern day slavery, bringing together governments, corporations, banks and NGOs. 

Impact and inspiration is what I aim for in business and my other passions, driving gender balance and creating a platform to stop slavery. Connecting and championing talent is crucial for business success and to change the world.
Kimberley Cole

Beth Lui — APEC Schools

Telstra Business Woman in Asia Award Finalist

Beth Lui has a career in IT spanning more than 30 years, with her most significant role being country managing director of Accenture Philippines. In 2013 as she was about to take a sabbatical break from the IT industry, she received a call asking her to join new education venture, Affordable Private Education Centre (APEC) Schools. She didn’t hesitate and started the very next day as CEO.

APEC Schools is a chain of private high schools operated by Ayala Education and Pearson Affordable Learning Fund. It aims to make a difference in the local education system by providing affordable, quality education to children living in dense urban communities where public schools may be overcrowded.

Beth’s experience in running large organisations and scaling them has been a tremendous help in her new role. She has grown the venture from a small cohort of 70 students to more than 10,000 students across 27 schools in only three years. Her role is to ensure that the business model is successful and the organisation remains financially viable and sustainable, while providing academic excellence. 

As a CEO, I use my position as a guiding light to not only remind the teams about our mission, but just as importantly, to deliver education outcome for students whose parents set aside hard-earned money to put them through private schools.
Beth Lui

Gabrielle Costigan — Linfox International Group Pty Ltd

Telstra Business Woman in Asia Award Finalist

Gabrielle (Gabby) Costigan has had a distinguished international career in the military and logistics where she has built a reputation for strong leadership and driving organisational success.

Gabby served in the Australian Defence Force for 20 years. During her time with the ADF, she was deployed to Afghanistan and worked as an advisor to the Australian Joint Chief of Operations.

After retiring from active duty, Gabby joined an American aviation company in a senior executive role. Afterwards, in 2014, Gabby was appointed CEO of Linfox Asia, to lead supply chain operations across Southeast Asia and expand the company’s footprint in the region.

At Linfox, she has significantly changed the culture of the company to an inclusive, team-based environment, and evolved the business model to accommodate the unique challenges of the region.

Gabby is passionate about workplace diversity, mentoring rising talent across the organisation and enthusiastically supporting the Linfox Graduate Program.

Gabby is also a board member for the Australian-ASEAN Council, providing advice on relevant bilateral or regional issues in Southeast Asia. 

To move from a military career to a CEO of the largest privately owned logistics company in Southeast Asia, is very special. While my career has been blessed with great opportunities, I believe you create many of these opportunities through your own hard work.
Gabrielle Costigan

Marion Fromm — Cambodian Harvest Dried Fruit Co., Ltd.

Telstra Business Woman in Asia Award Finalist

Marion Fromm is 78 years old, a widow with two children, seven grand-children, four great grand-children and an extended Cambodian family. A native South Australian, she spent years as a teacher’s aide in a variety of local schools, including five years teaching in Japan. Her passion for assisting people is what drove Marion to become an entrepreneur.

In 1997, Marion took a holiday to Cambodia that would change her life forever. While there, she saw the plight of local people with disabilities due to landmines, bombs, burns, polio, birth deformities and vehicle accidents. A vision from God motivated her to take action and in 2004, she moved to Cambodia and set up Cambodian Harvest Dried Fruit Co. Ltd., a leading manufacturer of processed fruit products including dried mango, papaya, pineapple and ginger, and jams, marmalades and chutneys. The factory provides work, education and a future for people with disabilities, who suffer discrimination in the local community for being “damaged”.

The company now employs 44 staff and has been selling products in Cambodia for 11 years, more recently it has expanded to export to Korea, Japan, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand. 

I enjoy mentoring and empowering my extended Cambodian family, as well as seeing changes that have occurred in their lives as they are able to provide for their families education and provission.
Marion Fromm

Shinta Witoyo Dhanuwardoyo — Bubu.com

Telstra Business Woman in Asia Award Finalist

Shinta Witoyo Dhanuwardoyo is a serial tech entrepreneur. During her 20-year tenure in the technology industry she has started a plethora of companies, which demonstrate her passion to help shape and develop the tech landscape in Indonesia.

Founded in 1996, her current company, Bubu.com, was one of the first internet companies in Indonesia. Bubu.com started as a web design agency, but as technology advanced in the country, it has evolved into a full-service digital creative agency. In 2011, she developed the Bubu Awards to honour web design and digital campaigns. It has now expanded to include a three-day event workshop, conference and exhibition called IDByte, which is attended by industry heavyweights including Google and Facebook.

In addition to Bubu.com, Shinta also runs an investment and mentorship program called Angel eQ Network to enhance access to funding for tech start-ups around the country. 

I am obsessive about putting Indonesia on the global digital map, which is why I invest my time into mentoring and providing opportunities for others who are just as devoted as I am to technology.
Shinta Witoyo Dhanuwardoyo

Rituparna Chakraborty — TeamLease Services Ltd

Telstra Australian Business Woman in Asia Award Finalist
Telstra Business Woman in Asia Award Finalist

Rituparna Chakraborty is a co-founder of TeamLease Services Ltd. Established in 2002, TeamLease is one of India's leading providers of human resource services, with a vision of ‘Putting India to Work’ by enabling young workers to have a formal job, providing them with secure wages, social security and healthcare. 

As Executive Vice-President, Rituparna is responsible for managing the temporary staffing division, as well as India's first Public Private Partnership (PPP) apprenticeship program, National Employability Through Apprenticeship Program (NETAP). With an MBA in sales and marketing, she has been instrumental in growing the business through innovative sales and marketing, as well as the implementation of sophisticated web and mobile-based technology workflow, enabling scale and significant productivity gains for customers and staff. Rituparna says her proudest achievement has been to sustain a minimum of 25 per cent year-on-year growth in the business for the past five years.

Today, the company employs more than 1,000 full time staff across its eight regional offices, and currently has 115,000 temporary staff and 15,000 apprentices on its books. To date, TeamLease has provided employment to approximately 1.6 million people.

My priority is to lead a highly motivated and empowered team who is equally committed to our vision of ‘Putting India to Work’ and making a difference to the lives of our youth.
Rituparna Chakraborty

Sharyn Johnston — Australian Tea Masters

Telstra Victorian Entrepreneur Award Finalist

In 2012, Sharyn Johnston founded Australian Tea Masters, and in four short years it has become the leading tea education organisation in Australasia, delivering various levels and types of tea training. 

Sharyn says she is dedicated to the public education of tea, at every level, from leaf to cup. This passion is what motivated her and her team to develop the only government-accredited tea standards for hospitality in Australia. In addition to the tea sommelier course, they have also created the world's first online tea training program, tea flavour wheel and tea aroma training kit and recently have released a book.

Australian Tea Masters has grown quickly to become the largest private label tea and herbal blender in Australia, and is the source of 52 niche brands in Australia, Singapore and Indonesia. It will produce more than 300,000 private label tea bags in 2016, import more than 1,000kg of tea, and export its products to three countries. The business has recently expanded to open an office in Singapore and will launch in China and Korea in 2017.

It is exciting to be recognised as a leader in tea education in such a short period of time and it’s a privilege to get to improve public awareness about the cultural diversity of tea.
Sharyn Johnston

Victoria Kluth — Araza

Telstra Victorian Entrepreneur Award Finalist

Victoria Kluth has more than two decades’ worth of experience in the technology industry. After beginning as a developer and coder, Victoria moved to an analytical role, before progressing to project management and finally entering sales. 

With experience across the full gamut of the technology industry, Victoria was confident she could do it all, and do it better than many of the existing providers, which led her to establish her own consultancy, Araza, in 2013. 

Araza specialises in cloud and digital solutions. As the managing director, Victoria’s fingerprint is on everything the company delivers from client management to delivering bespoke and innovative solutions.

Though it is a young company, it has grown quickly to a team of more than 100 people, by Victoria carefully selecting staff to represent her brand, establishing key client relationships and savvy business investments. Victoria says one of her proudest achievements for the company was when they achieved gender parity; as the technology industry is male-dominated, attaining 50 per cent female staff meant they were breaking down barriers and creating an equal opportunity workplace.   

Inspiring and positive are two traits that I convey everyday with my team. I want them to be inspired to create innovative solutions and positive when looking for opportunities or tackling problems.
Victoria Kluth

Jacqueline Savage — MedCorp Technologies Pty Ltd

Telstra Australian Entrepreneur Award Finalist
Telstra Victorian Entrepreneur Award Finalist
Telstra Victorian Young Business Women's Award Finalist

In 2013, Jacqueline Savage graduated from Swinburne University with a Bachelor of Product Design Engineering, specialising in Biomedical Engineering. She began working for Outerspace Design where she obtained invaluable experience and the confidence to establish her own venture, MedCorp Technologies in 2015.

MedCorp Technologies is an early-stage digital health company developing wearable technologies and devices for the healthcare industry. Recently, the company has successfully completed product trials of its core temperature-sensing platform: a wearable, non-invasive temperature monitoring system. The device is worn adjacent to the patient's skin providing continual 24-hour wireless data extraction and feedback to healthcare professionals, enabling the early signs of infection to be detected in at-risk patients. 

As founder and CEO of MedCorp Technologies, Jacqueline is responsible for the development and growth of the company, including raising capital, commercialisation of products, manufacturing and distribution. 

I was told it was career suicide starting my own business without 10-15 years’ industry experience, but I’m proud that I backed myself and have developed a life-saving product that could revolutionise the medical treatment for high-risk patients.
Jacqueline Savage

Gabrielle Harris — The Interchange

Telstra Victorian Entrepreneur Award Finalist

For 15 years, Gabrielle Harris worked in traditional management consulting roles advising clients globally.  In 2012, Gabrielle took on a brave new venture to explore more innovative solutions to create cultural transformation and founded The Interchange.

Gabrielle recognised that traditional change methodologies were not working and needed turning on their head. With a high commitment to innovation, creativity and the use of cutting edge technology, The Interchange has brought a fresh perspective to culture change.

The foundation of her philosophy is learning through story, film, virtual and augmented reality, as well as purpose-built mobile environments. The Interchange never stops pushing the envelope to get the best outcomes for organisations and community. 

Gabrielle’s innovative approach has shown positive results with the safety program reducing a major infrastructure company’s fatalities to zero. Another program which focused on wellbeing transformation reported a 23 per cent reduction in sick leave.

Gabrielle leads a team of eight and is a hands-on managing director.  However, she knows that her team are critical to her success, so she prioritises fostering an environment where staff are empowered to create and innovate. 

With any challenge, people hold the real solution. Listen and learn from them and you will affect real change.
Gabrielle Harris

Kim Westwood — Shopping Links

Telstra Victorian Entrepreneur Award Finalist

Kim Westwood has always had an entrepreneurial spirit, but prior to launching her first venture she worked for more than ten years with BHP Billiton, primarily in IT, HR and Shared Business Services. These positions took her across multiple regions, countries and commodity groups, allowing her to gain expertise in a variety of business areas and roles.

In 2014, she launched Shopping Links, an online global marketplace that connects bloggers and social influencers with brands for the purposes of reaching new audiences. She developed the platform after recognising the lack of transparency in the influencer marketing space.

As Founder and Managing Director, Kim oversees all aspects of the business. Operating with a small global team, her accountabilities range from strategy, governance and financial management, right through to end-user support and engagement.

Shopping Links’ network now has more than 9,500 carefully vetted influencers from 103 countries with reach of 835+ million, making Shopping Links the fastest-growing social media start-up in Australia. Nearly 900 brands are using the platform including Macy's, Marks & Spencer and Topshop. 

I love thinking about potential possibilities and showing the industry what's possible and how to harness the power of technology. I like to challenge the way we do things, seeking out opportunities for innovation and change.
Kim Westwood

Sheryl Thai — Cupcake Central

Telstra Victorian Entrepreneur Award Finalist

Sheryl Thai initially began her career in the information technology and telecommunication industry however with a job loss resulting from the economic downturn of 2009, she found herself presented with an opportunity to fulfil her passion of opening a cupcake business. Starting off in her home kitchen with $2,000 in capital, the business was an instant success. As demand increased, the decision to bring her dream to life hatched and she joined forces with her business partner, Thin Neu, to open Cupcake Central's first storefront in August 2010. 

From these humble beginnings, Cupcake Central now has five retail stores across Victoria, with a team of more than 45 staff and is selling more than 30,000 cupcakes a week.

Early on in her journey, Sheryl recognised the need for like-minded peers to help tackle the isolation from being a start-up business. In 2011, she co-founded League of Extraordinary Women an organisation that connects, inspires and supports female entrepreneurs. As CEO of the League, Sheryl is on a journey to build a technology platform to connect female entrepreneurs worldwide.

I have learnt so much on my journey as an entrepreneur, and I’m keen to share my experiences with others to show them that no matter how big or small your dream is, anything is possible with passion.
Sheryl Thai

Elise Bialylew — Mindful in May

Telstra Victorian For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

Dr Elise Bialylew began her career as a medical doctor specialising in psychiatry, which incorporated her interests in the human mind and supporting people to thrive.

Along the way she turned to mindfulness meditation as a way of managing her own stress and quickly discovered the powerful effects it had in her own life and in the lives of her patients. Inspired by the scientific research supporting the transformative effect of mindfulness on the mind and body, in 2012, she founded Mindful in May, a global online mindfulness fundraising campaign that has taught thousands of people mindfulness meditation, while also raising funds to bring clean water to those in developing countries. Following the success of Mindful in May, she now offers mindfulness training all year round through her online program, The Power of Presence. 

Having trained with global leaders in the field of mindfulness, Elise brings her unique east-meets-west expertise to guide participants through this 31-day online meditation program, which includes guided audio meditations, video interviews with global experts and live meditation events. She delivers in person mindfulness training to individuals and corporate organisations at The Mind Life Project. 

Through Mindful in May, I can have a bigger impact on thousands of people’s lives through teaching mindfulness tools that can build resilience and develop inner resources to manage the increasingly stressful world we live in, while also contributing to reducing suffering for those living without access to clean drinking water.
Elise Bialylew

Karen Hart — The Youth Junction Incorporated

Telstra Victorian For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

Karen Hart has been involved in a variety of projects that maximise service delivery within disadvantaged people and communities, both in the UK and Australia. Her experience includes grant funding and program design, delivery and evaluation. 

For the past 10 years, Karen has been the general manager of The Youth Junction Incorporated, a not-for-profit that manages the Visy Cares Hub in Sunshine. It was established in 2005 to consolidate youth services across Melbourne’s western region, into a services centre for young people aged between 12-25 years.

Karen is passionate about ensuring the safety and security of young people and does this by providing streamlined services and encouraging collaboration among programs. Karen says her proudest moment was receiving a scholarship which allowed her to carry out a research study into the critical success factors of co-located youth centres. These findings led her to establish a not-for-profit incubator, which enables organisations to pool their resources and provide new and innovative programs to young people.

I’ve always been drawn to leadership roles within the not-for-profit sector, as I wanted to inspire, create, build and financially sustain social purpose and justice projects that develop the social capital of disadvantaged communities.
Karen Hart

Ann-Maree Davis — Amicus Group Inc

Telstra Victorian For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

Ann-Maree Davis has more than 25 years’ experience in the disability sector, across a broad range of programs and in executive, senior management and leadership roles. She has been in her current position, CEO of Amicus Group Inc, for the last eight years.

Amicus is a not-for-profit organisation working to ensure that people with a disability live a good and valued life in regional Victoria. Under Ann-Maree’s leadership, the organisation has undertaken transformational change and shifted from supplying traditional day services in a facility-based congregate care model, to providing fully individualised service options to 70 per cent of participants in a community-based model.

Ann-Maree is passionate about the learning and development of not just her participants and their families but staff as well. She has established a mentorship program at Amicus to ensure staff receive individualised practice coaching and support team meetings to foster peer support and learning. 

What I love about my work is that we are providing people with disabilities real opportunities to be active community members through employment, education and volunteering, which helps eliminate the social segregation and stereotypes that can come with living with a disability.
Ann-Maree Davis

Helen Szoke — Oxfam Australia

Telstra Victorian For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

Dr Helen Szoke’s career has specialised in protecting and advancing human rights. Focussed on health consumer advocacy and health institution leadership, she has held roles as the Federal Race Discrimination Commissioner, and led the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission. Helen also has a strong academic background, with a PhD focused on the public policy issues surrounding regulation. 

Currently Chief Executive at Oxfam Australia, the development, humanitarian and advocacy organisation, Helen leads a team of more than 500 staff in Australia and internationally. Helen is responsible for delivering strategic direction, oversight, and ensuring that the organisation's impact in addressing poverty, is effective and growing.

Helen says, that stepping into leadership at Oxfam Australia was a challenge as the organisation was emerging from a complex period of flux and it was important to her that she creates a legacy that left the organisation stronger than when she found it.

Helen relishes working with such a broad business, with a retail social enterprise, long-term development work in more than 20 countries, humanitarian response capability and a strong public engagement agenda. 

I am invested in and respect the staff and volunteers I work with and am devoted to the work we do to support the communities we serve.
Helen Szoke

Karen Mahlab AM — Pro Bono Australia

Telstra Victorian For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

For the past 26 years, Karen Mahlab has run successful, profitable, innovative social enterprises and businesses. She was given due recognition in 2015, when she was awarded Member (AM) in the Order of Australia for significant contribution to the not-for-profit (NFP) sector and philanthropic initiatives.

In 1999, Karen established Pro Bono Australia to give a voice to the NFP sector. The website offers news, opinions, surveys, jobs, skilled-professional volunteer matching, webinars and podcasts, to senior decision makers in the sector. It has since become the largest go-to online hub empowering the for-purpose sector. 

As the founder and CEO, Karen built the business from the ground up and under her direction it is now servicing one million people in Australia. She used the platform and her influence to push for the establishment of the overarching regulatory body, the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission (ACNC), which has brought more transparency and accountability to the sector.

In these times of struggling media, we have created a unique, profitable, successful online business which gives voice to the values and concerns of people and organisations wanting to engage social change and make social connections. We activate good intentions.
Karen Mahlab AM

Jennifer Fitzgerald — Scope (Aust)

Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year Finalist
Telstra Australian For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist
Telstra Victorian Business Woman of the Year Finalist
Telstra Victorian For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

Dr Jennifer Fitzgerald has worked in the health, aged care, community and disability sectors throughout her career, spanning 34 years. During that time, she has honed her leadership and managerial skills and developed a strong understanding of the political and policy environment.

In 2012, Jennifer was appointed CEO of Scope, an organisation supporting people with physical, intellectual and multiple disabilities and developmental delays. With a team of more than 1,500 staff across Victoria, Scope provides services such as therapy, supported living, respite, community inclusion and education to more than 6,000 people.

In her role, Jennifer is responsible for successfully leading Scope through a time of substantial change as the disability service sector moves choice and control from government and provider to the individual. Jennifer says that this shift will shape a consumer-driven marketplace over the coming months. In preparing the organisation for this, she developed Scope 2020, an organisation-wide project that will ensure all people, systems, services and practices are aligned with the industry changes.

The disability service sector is undergoing transformative change. I am determined to use my skills and knowledge to ensure the for-purpose sector remains a vibrant and sustainable choice for people with a disability.
Jennifer Fitzgerald

Jo Mithen — Monash College

After graduating from Monash University with a double degree in both Economics and Law, Jo Mithen started work at 28, and at 31, became CEO of the Australian Human Resources Institute. She successfully grew the institute for six years, during which time she completed her MBA at Melbourne Business School. After selling the institute, she was appointed general manager of a law firm, before starting in her current role as CEO of Monash College in 2008.

Monash College provides support to students, many of them from developing countries, by offering preparatory courses that give them access to Monash University and the capability to succeed during their studies and beyond. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Monash University.

In her role, Jo develops the business’ strategy with the board and senior leadership, ensuring that it aligns with the University’s wider direction. She is also responsible for developing innovative and commercial solutions to address market needs. Her vision is to effect real, positive change on the lives of the students through creating a better future for them.

The world of education needs people with passion and tenacity because it is a sector often resistant to change. It needs forward thinking and innovative approaches to provide younger generations with the tools they need to succeed.
Jo Mithen

Marcia Devlin — Federation University Australia

Telstra Victorian Public Sector and Academia Award Finalist

Professor Marcia Devlin is a graduate of five universities. She worked in the community sector, before joining the university sector in the hope of having a positive impact on a greater number of people, particularly disadvantaged students.

Marcia is now a senior executive and academic, with areas of expertise encompassing supporting low-income students, learning and teaching, quality assurance, equity, policy and leading change.

She is Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Quality) at Federation University Australia, a regionally-based university with an inclusive philosophy, which offers educational opportunities across several locations to those who would not otherwise have them.

In her role, Marcia has successfully enhanced the university’s online presence, going from zero to 50 programs available online to improve access to university and promote digital learning. In addition, she has led the improvement of the student retention and success rate, by shifting the strategic focus of the university to include nurturing current students and preventing them from dropping out before completing a qualification.

I am a vocal advocate for the transformative role of tertiary education, as it is both a social justice mechanism and a fundamental enabler of regional and national innovation.
Marcia Devlin

Mirjana Prica — Food Innovation Australia Limited

Telstra Victorian Public Sector and Academia Award Finalist

Dr Mirjana Prica is a trained scientist with a doctorate in physical chemistry.  Her wide-ranging Australian and overseas experience in research and business, demonstrates Mirjana’s passion for learning and exploring new ideas. 

Innovation has been the common theme throughout Mirjana’s career, and a driving force in her transition from academia to the business world.  Her achievements include: discovering a novel process to manufacture ceramic components for hydrogen fuel cells; establishing a global animal feed ingredient business; and transforming a struggling analytical testing services business.

Mirjana is now managing director of Food Innovation Australia Limited (FIAL), a not-for-profit organisation, established under the Federal Government’s Industry Growth Centres Initiative. In her role, Mirjana leads the development of a vision and strategy for the Australian food and agribusiness industry.

As the voice of industry to government, FIAL drives innovation, productivity and competitiveness in the sector. Additionally, it provides knowledge, funding assistance, learning workshops, and online tools connecting international buyers with Australian suppliers.

In 2016, she developed a first of its kind book, launched by FIAL, celebrating innovation across the industry.

FIAL, like all small businesses, is bootstrapped. Our collaborative approach, passion and resourcefulness, addresses the needs of our 500,000 plus stakeholders. The industry’s success is our success!
Mirjana Prica

Rowan Brookes — Monash University

Telstra Australian Public Sector and Academia Award Finalist
Telstra Victorian Public Sector and Academia Award Finalist

After leaving school at 15, Rowan Brookes was told that she would never accomplish anything with her life. She took it as a challenge and two decades later, she has re-written her life story from troubled teen to a successful academic and educator with a mission to inspire students.

As a mature student, she discovered a passion for learning which saw her earn a Bachelor of Arts, a Bachelor of Science and a PhD. The real accomplishment, Rowan says, was discovering that she could light a fire in young people, something which has inspired her career.

As director of Education for the School of Biological Sciences and the course leader for the Bachelor of Science Advanced - Global Challenges at Monash University, Rowan seeks to transform the way STEM education is taught to prepare students for the challenges of tomorrow.

She does this by researching, designing, implementing and delivering science education. She reinvigorates curricula with employability, leadership and entrepreneurship skills in mind; she oversees education within the school, leads multi-disciplinary research projects to support best-practice teaching, and also continuously encourages her students to become life-long learners. 

Re-thinking STEM education is one of the biggest challenges we face in Australia and globally. A science degree must be more than just an education. I want to build a strong understanding of scientific concepts whilst fostering capacity for enterprise, science, diplomacy and leadership.
Rowan Brookes

Susan Delahunty — MCIE - Explore English

Telstra Victorian Public Sector and Academia Award Finalist

Over the years, Dr Susan Delahunty has held several teaching and management roles in Australia, Dubai, Malaysia and Japan, focusing on English as a second, foreign or additional language. For her PhD, she researched women from the Middle Eastern Gulf before, during and after their education journey in Australia. This experience made her realise that she could make a difference in Australia by creating something new and innovative in the world of international education.  

In 2015, Susan set up Explore English in Melbourne’s CBD, an English language centre, which offers a variety of English language classes, exam preparation, and business language courses to international students. 

As the director, it is Susan’s role to oversee the business operations and use her creativity to lead the way in a competitive market. She provides pedagogical advice to teachers and helps them come up with new teaching ideas. With a focus on innovation, Susan has led the school to integrate apps and specific software as part of the learning program, to appeal to today’s student generation.

Susan is also an active member of the NEAS Advisory Council, an organisation that provides quality endorsement for language courses and language centres across Australia and Asia.

Education is an ongoing process and it is important that there is someone who is passionate about what is being delivered, someone who is ethical, takes responsibility and is proud to open the school’s doors each morning to international students
Susan Delahunty

Madeleine McManus, FIE Aust, CPEng, EngExec — Monash University

Telstra Victorian Public Sector and Academia Award Finalist

In 2009, Madeleine McManus was the first female Chairperson of Engineers Australia Victoria, the professional body for engineers in Australia, leading Victoria to have the highest number of female members in its division. 

As the highest professionally-qualified female engineer in Victoria, Madeleine is a fellow of Engineers Australia with Chartered and Engineering Executive status in recognition of her contribution to engineering leadership. She has been actively involved in rebuilding communities following the Black Saturday fires. 

Madeleine has extensive management experience in Australia and France delivering large-scale global commercial multi-disciplinary projects.

Madeleine currently holds dual roles at Monash University, Director of Industry Engagement, focusing on engineering and IT, and Director Monash Industry Team Initiative – “MITI”. Madeleine is responsible for driving strategies to ensure successful long term partnerships with key stakeholders. For MITI she established an award winning program that partners industry and multi-discipline student teams to create solutions for real-world problems.

Madeleine also holds a number of board and advisory roles for industry, community, NFP and philanthropy, including Women in Science, promoting, developing and increasing profile of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM).

I believe in the importance of “paying forward” knowledge and expertise for the benefit of others and I am passionate about making a difference, promoting STEMM and encouraging greater gender diversity in the industry.
Madeleine McManus, FIE Aust, CPEng, EngExec

Jac Phillips — Bank of Melbourne

Telstra Victorian Corporate and Private Award Finalist

Jac Phillips has been involved in marketing people, products and services across the Asia Pacific region for 25 years. Before joining Bank of Melbourne as head of Brand and Marketing in 2014, she held senior marketing roles with IBM and ANZ.

Leading a high-performing team of 10 marketing experts, Jac reports directly to the Chief Executive of Bank of Melbourne and is part of the bank’s leadership team. Her role focuses on making sure the bank has a strong and consistent presence as Victoria’s local bank. Since launching a refreshed brand campaign 18 months ago that introduced valued brand and proprietary media assets, new customer growth rates have increased.

Jac is a Certified Practising Marketer and is currently completing an MBA. She recently graduated from Harvard Kennedy Business School’s Women and Power executive program, designed to help women advance to positions of influence in leadership. She’s actively shared those learnings in Bank of Melbourne and beyond, working with an educator to develop an internal development program to support emerging female leaders. 

What I love doing most is mobilising and energising teams, mentoring others, connecting people, and sharing what I’ve had the privilege to learn - and continue to learn.
Jac Phillips

Ingrid Filmer — Burgess Rawson

Telstra Victorian Corporate and Private Award Finalist

Ingrid Filmer’s path has not been a traditional one. Passion, determination and commitment have driven her lifelong, successful career in commercial real estate. From a centre accountant, Ingrid now heads up Burgess Rawson, a commercial property firm, where she has been employed since 2005.

Appointed chief financial controller of Burgess Rawson in 2011, when the two founding directors retired, Ingrid became one of very few female leaders of her industry.  Her vision was for the business was to become a leading company within its field, and to forge the way for more women to succeed.

Since her appointment, as core driver and controller of business finance and company direction Ingrid has led Burgess Rawson through three-fold growth. Retaining the best practices of a solid and successful small business, she expanded the assets under management from $430 to $760 million, established a shareholder agreement, restructured the company, invested in technology, developed policies and procedures, and changed the company culture. Staff numbers have increased from 18 to 33.

I strive grow the business, demonstrating integrity in everything I do. Committed to ensuring optimal financial security for my clients, I also strive to advance opportunities for women in our male-dominated industry.
Ingrid Filmer

Anna Thomas — Stockdale & Leggo

Telstra Victorian Corporate and Private Award Finalist

Anna Thomas is Chief Operating Officer of Stockdale & Leggo, one of Australia’s longest standing real estate franchises. Anna is responsible for holding the vison and setting the strategic direction for the group, developing and implementing the growth strategy, ensuring the franchisees have access to efficient technology and rolling out innovative group marketing strategies. 

Under her leadership, Anna implemented a new Information Technology platform including website, intranet and marketing portal for the Stockdale & Leggo franchises, providing a robust system which enables them to scale their business exponentially.  The project spanned two and half years, from strategy to delivery, with the end result being a user-friendly platform which operates 24/7 and provides access to tools which gives franchisees a higher level of autonomy and ownership within their business. 

Anna is also passionate about mentoring, coaching and leading women in a heavily male-dominated industry, leading her to create the ‘Empowered Women in Real Estate’ movement, of which she is the brand ambassador.  

Leading, mentoring and managing people is a passion of mine and I genuinely love that I am making a difference. We have nearly 1,000 people in the group and I take that responsibility very seriously.
Anna Thomas

Dayle Stevens — National Australia Bank

Telstra Victorian Corporate and Private Award Finalist

Dayle Stevens is the divisional Chief Information Officer (CIO) at the National Australia Bank (NAB). As divisional CIO, she supports the strategic direction of technology at NAB that helps to deliver a great customer experience.

Dayle says that NAB’s strong technology foundation drives greater performance for the entire bank and its people, and delivers a more personal, easy and supportive customer experience.

Dayle is also the leader and co-founder of NAB’s Women in Technology Program. She champions diversity based on gender, culture, life stage and ability in technology and supports the bank’s leaders to achieve greater inclusive leadership across the business. She is determined to see equal gender diversity achieved in her lifetime and a world where inclusion is the norm. 

I have made it my business to lead change for diversity and inclusion across the whole of NAB and beyond into the broader community.
Dayle Stevens

Liz Jones — Jo Fisher Executive

Telstra Victorian Corporate and Private Award Finalist

Liz Jones’ experience in the executive search industry spans more than 20 years. She started her career in a graduate position with IBM Australia, before moving into an account manager position at Lend Lease Employer Systems. In 1995, she entered the executive search industry at Dunhill Recruitment. She then went on to work for Korn Ferry International/Futurestep where she worked as a managing consultant for 12 years. For the past six years, Liz has been a managing consultant at Jo Fisher Executive, a leading Australian-owned executive search and leadership advisory firm. 

In her role, Liz specialises in executive appointments, predominantly across the health, independent schools and not-for-profit sectors. Liz adopts a partnership approach to every search, working closely with both client and candidate. Liz has been a key contributor to Jo Fisher Executive’s impressive track record, with 47 per cent of her placements being senior female candidates.

Liz holds a Bachelor of Arts from La Trobe University, a MBA from Deakin University, is a graduate from the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and has undertaken leadership based studies at Harvard University. 

I am passionate about my work and genuinely care about the people I assist in finding their next career move.
Liz Jones

Diana Taylor — CT Management Group

Telstra Australian Corporate and Private Award Finalist
Telstra Victorian Corporate and Private Award Finalist

Diana Taylor graduated from Deakin University with a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and achieved admission to the Supreme Court of Victoria in 2000. Following a successful career as a lawyer in firms and large corporate environments, in 2011 Diana became the executive director and regional manager for Victoria and Tasmania of the CT Management Group. 

CT Management Group is a national management consultancy business with its head office based in Geelong. Services are provided across the areas of organisational development, financial management, asset management, service planning, project and contract management and professional placements.

Diana’s role includes responsibility for every part of the business’ operations including marketing, strategic planning, business development and delivery of the annual budget. She is also the general counsel and company secretary for the business. 

Outside her professional role, Diana is also the first female president of the Melbourne Western Region Football League and in 2010 became a director of the Geelong Football Club. Diana also chairs the Geelong hospice and end of life care organisation Anam Cara House Geelong.

By using a values based and innovative approach, I have worked with and pushed beyond the current market to diversify the business, while at the same time strengthening our integrity and governance practices.
Diana Taylor

Sarah Leung — Healthy Energy Holistic Nutrition & Lifestyle Centre

Telstra Victorian Young Business Women's Award Finalist

After completing her Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics at Monash University in 2009, Sarah Leung was eager to share her passion for health and wellbeing and began consulting immediately. 

Between 2010 and 2014 she worked in private practice and consulted out of medical centres however, she felt dissatisfied by only giving basic dietary advice because she felt like she was not making a big enough difference in people’s health. This prompted her to start Health Energy Holistic Nutrition & Lifestyle Centre. 

Health Energy is a local wellness hub that provides services such as osteopathy, clinical hypnotherapy, reiki, Chinese medicine, nutrition consultations, cooking consultations and yoga.  Sarah’s goal is to bridge the gap between western medicine and evidence-based alternative medicine so that she can provide her clients with excellent holistic healthcare.

Sarah believes that lifestyle and diet can prevent illness and promote wellness but in order to change someone’s behaviours, you need to first change their mindset. 

I am a firm believer in creating your own reality; no one else can do it for you. You must take initiative and be prepared to take risks. A dream remains a dream unless you take action.
Sarah Leung

Gabrielle Lim — TRAPT

Telstra Victorian Young Business Women's Award Finalist

Gabrielle Lim is the co-founder of a unique entertainment business, TRAPT, which locks participants in a room with 45 minutes to find clues, solve puzzles and escape before time runs out. If unable to escape in the allocated time, ‘game masters’ go in to the room and provide a final opportunity to ask questions before taking teams out and ending the challenge. The escape room venue provides an opportunity for team bonding experiences through its multi-room escape adventures, providing friends, family and colleagues with a new way to interact and bond in accessible way. 

Gabrielle is responsible for all aspects of management, business development, new product design, HR, finance and marketing. She says that immersive entertainment is an exciting industry to participate in and she spends much of her time on business and product development, while ensuring the existing business continues to thrive.

Outside her business, Gabrielle is passionate about giving back to the community. She is a volunteer with YMCA Victoria and the MLC Old Collegians Club. She has previously been a volunteer with AIESEC and the University of Melbourne Faculty of Business and Economics Young Alumni. 

At TRAPT we create unique social experiences. I love what we do because we facilitate a fun and inclusive space, quite literally filled with fun, laughter and people discussing ideas.
Gabrielle Lim

Lauren Woodman — Seven Sisters Festival

Telstra Victorian Young Business Women's Award Finalist

Dr Lauren Woodman believes the practice of self-care, awareness and embodiment, leads to empowered choices and an inspired life. This belief encouraged her to found Seven Sisters Festival, a three-day women’s wellness event which has become the largest festival of its type in the southern hemisphere.

Through experiential workshops, interactive talks, healings, poetry, art and music, this transformational festival creates a powerful space for women to rest and reconnect, gather perspectives, inspiration, tools and resources to support them in living a more motivated and vital life.

Every year Lauren donates festival tickets to women experiencing hardship, domestic violence, ill health and involuntary unemployment. She supports and aligns with not-for-profits and advocacy groups, creating a platform for them to foster further awareness and generate funding opportunities.

Recently she co-published the book, ‘The Evolved Woman’, which encourages women to reach their full potential. The book reached number one on Amazon and has subsequently increased Lauren’s online community by tens of thousands.

My mission is to inspire women to awaken their creative potential and craft meaningful change in their lives and the world.
Lauren Woodman

Melissa Bell — Mayko Hair

Telstra Victorian Young Business Women's Award Finalist

At just 20 years of age, Melissa Bell started her own business Mayko Hair, a hairdressing salon located on the Mornington Peninsula. As the managing director of Mayko she is responsible for the day-to-day management of the business, creative education and servicing clients; which she has continued to do for the past eight years.

Melissa strives to have her brand set the benchmark of quality in the industry. She seeks to achieve this by securing recognition through competitions, participating in industry events and showcasing her work through photo shoots. She also ensures that she keeps technology up-to-date and above all, maintains outstanding client satisfaction. 

Mayko is a member with the Australian Hairdressing Council, the only governing body in the industry and has recently achieved gold accreditation, essentially recognising them as a top salon in the country. 

Melissa also recently won a competition making her an ambassador for ‘The Future Creatives’, a program run by hairdressing wholesaler Norris. As part of her role as ambassador she is able to give back to her industry by teaching other hairdressers about unique colouring techniques. 

My career in hairdressing has not been my occupation, but my passion. I have the pleasure of making every individual who sits in my chair feel fantastic.
Melissa Bell

Anna Ross — Kester Black

Telstra Australian Young Business Women's Award Finalist
Telstra Victorian Young Business Women's Award Finalist

In 2009, Anna Ross founded Kester Black, a leading manicure and skincare brand built on beautiful design and uncompromising ethical values. Kester Black offers consumers sustainable, Australian-made, vegan, and cruelty-free beauty products. Anna is the sole proprietor and director of the start-up and is wholly responsible for the success of the business from strategy to execution.

An important aspect of her business is bringing the products to consumers who might otherwise be marginalised by the beauty industry, such as vegans and Muslim women. Devout Muslim women are unable to wear regular nail polish because of the washing involved in daily prayers however, Kester Black offers a water permeable nail polish, or ‘breathable polish’, which allows water vapours to pass through to the nail.

Anna is also dedicated to giving back to the community and is currently in a partnership with YGAP’s ‘Polished Man’ initiative to support ending violence against children. In addition, for every online sale, a dollar is donated to the customer’s choice of four partnered organisations. 

In business my beliefs manifest in a drive for innovation and establishing sustainable, ethical options for the consumer.
Anna Ross

Fiona Fonti — The Rehabilitation Specialists

Telstra Australian Capital Territory Entrepreneur Award Finalist

When individuals are away from work due to injury or ill-health, this can be costly for businesses and result in reduced confidence for individuals. Fiona Fonti saw a gap in the market for specialist services to assist individuals and workplaces, and sought to address the issue by founding The Rehabilitation Specialists.

The Rehabilitation Specialists offers a range of injury management services, workplace solutions, specialist assessment, intervention and training services that all assist in getting individuals healthy and back to work.

As the managing director, Fiona has built the company from the ground up with help from her team of experienced consultants who deliver high-quality, outcome-driven and tailored services to meet the complex and varied needs of clients. 

Since inception in 2012, Fiona has grown the team from three to 23 and has led the business to such achievement that it was recognised as a finalist in the 2015 and 2016 Telstra Business Awards, winning the 2016 Telstra Australian Capital Territory Small Business Award.

Workplace rehabilitation is a challenging industry and needs professionals who can last the distance, be innovative and drive positive change in the sector, which is what I aim to do.
Fiona Fonti

Julie Okely — Dilkara Essence of Australia

Telstra Australian Capital Territory Entrepreneur Award Finalist

Julie Okely is a proud Kamilaroi woman. Her strong connection with her Indigenous background inspired her to create hair and body care brand, Dilkara Essence of Australia. The organic line of products utilises Australian bush botanicals, using raw materials that are sourced from Indigenous communities and suppliers from around the country.

Julie created the Dilkara Essence of Australia with a mission to promote a better way of life for Indigenous communities through sustainable employment opportunities. Also aligned with her values, her supplier, Native Extracts provides an economic cash flow through Indigenous communities, creating long-term economic impact locally.

Also passionate about her impact on the environment, Julie only uses organic ingredients, which are also paraben, sodium and sulphate free. She says that using organic products has given her a sense of responsibility in helping to preserve the environment. 

I endeavour to make decisions based on the impact I have on future generations. I hope to make a positive impact and create sustainable income streams for Indigenous people, businesses and communities.
Julie Okely

Tracy Keeley — BOOKPLATE

Telstra Australian Capital Territory Entrepreneur Award Finalist

When Tracy Keeley began operating successful café and catering business, BOOKPLATE, she decided she needed a new approach to ‘work-life, balance’ having realised the importance of maintaining a healthy wellbeing after failing the balancing act in her previous business. 

BOOKPLATE is located in the iconic National Library of Australia and attracts a diverse range of visitors, from students to high-profile dignitaries and international guests. Everyone from pensioners to prime ministers.

Tracy encourages her staff to live a balanced life and runs her business accordingly so that that no-one burns out. She ensures that she leads by example by bringing joyfulness into the workplace and by prioritising wellbeing.  

Additionally, Tracy is also passionate about assisting in the personal development of others, by drawing out staff potential and strengths, to enhance the business and every individual in it.

BOOKPLATE was also a finalist in the 2016 Telstra Business Awards.

I encourage creative ideas, identifying individual’s strengths and allowing them to discover their own identity, carefully assigning responsibilities where contributions are valued and individuals can flourish and explore their capabilities.
Tracy Keeley

Lauren Heys — Moxxi Group

Telstra Australian Capital Territory Entrepreneur Award Finalist
Telstra Australian Capital Territory Young Business Women's Award Finalist

At 25 years of age, Lauren Heys left her six-figure international consulting career which included stints at Accenture, Ernst & Young and international aid organisation, CARE Australia, to create Moxxi Group. Moxxi is a peak-performance mindset coaching business for women who want be more and give more, and are willing to do the work to get there.

Lauren founded Moxxi out of the frustration of watching women sell themselves short, no matter how incredible they truly were. She couldn’t understand how women would pick themselves to shreds over the smallest mistake while men seemed to breeze through massive blunders without a blip.

The business’ name comes from the word Moxie, which means to be determined, to have courage, and the double-x from the female chromosome, thus its meaning is ‘Women With Courage’.

As the business owner, Lauren is responsible for the strategic growth of the business as well as the day to day running of the operations. Leading a team of four, she creates all of the content for the Moxxi online programs and is personally involved with coaching her clients.

I love what I do because I get to work with women all over the world to figure out who they are and the influence they wish to have in the world. I get to accompany them and see their dreams become a reality.
Lauren Heys

Dr Nicole Sides — Compass Fertility

Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year Finalist
Telstra Australian Entrepreneur Award Finalist
Telstra Australian Capital Territory Business Woman of the Year Finalist
Telstra Australian Capital Territory Entrepreneur Award Finalist

Dr Nicole Sides believes everyone has the right to become a parent. She is the founder and managing director of Compass Fertility (formally ISIS Fertility) which is a boutique, inclusive, locally-owned and operated fertility clinic that gives hope to those who wish to start a family.

With an impressive list of qualifications and work experience, she is a well-equipped specialist medical surgeon in fertility and reproductive medicine. She received her Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from the University of Sydney, and specialised in obstetrics and gynaecology at the Royal Hospital for Women in Paddington, becoming a Fellow of the Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. She completed her Masters of Reproductive Medicine through the University of New South Wales.

Compass Fertility uses leading medical services in IVF and encourages lifestyle changes to optimise the chances of becoming pregnant naturally. The clinic also provides genetic counselling for couples with a genetic pre-disposition to conditions such as Cystic Fibrosis, to help conceive a healthy child.   

Through Compass Fertility, Nicole has also established the Refugee Fertility Assistance Programme. The program seeks to help refugees and vulnerable people who are struggling to become pregnant, many who have lost children in war zones.

I love what I do and that I have the chance to make a huge difference in people’s lives. It is a huge privilege I treat with great reverence and respect.
Dr Nicole Sides

Jessica Buffier — @HomeACT

Telstra Australian Capital Territory Entrepreneur Award Finalist

Jessica Buffier knows that a person’s home is at the very heart of their security, safety and wellbeing, which is why she founded property rental business, @HomeACT, with a mission to improve industry standards in the Australian Capital Territory. 

The core of the business is the leasing and ongoing management of residential properties in Canberra. Unlike many property management agencies, @HomeACT offers a standard flat rate for their services, ensuring that the client is not surprised with any hidden costs.      

Jessica is passionate about offering flexible employment options for people who would otherwise not be able to work in the industry, due to family commitments, studies or other responsibilities. 

@HomeACT is transforming the way people work in the property industry by investing in cloud-based management software and data storage, employees are now able to log in on any device from anywhere in the world and work. The office also has a designated ‘kids space’.

The world needs businesses like @HomeACT to set an example and prove that you can run a successful business with skilled staff working flexibly – we don’t live to work!
Jessica Buffier

Kate Seselja — The HOPE Project

Telstra Australian Capital Territory For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

Kate Seselja is a reformed gambling addict, who, through her not-for-profit business the HOPE Project, is helping normalise the conversation around addiction. The HOPE Project aims to Help Other People Everyday, by destigmatising addiction, building a positive environment for recovery and providing education to assist in prevention. 

Addiction takes many forms, but through open conversations, Kate says she’s seen barriers come down and people begin to take the first step to rediscovering their passions and igniting their drive to live life rather than remaining in their situation. This self-awareness helps provide an opportunity for people to listen to their body and refocus their minds, which aids both recovery and prevention.

In addition to helping people reclaim their purpose and recognise their triggers, Kate has established several bespoke programs to help educate community groups, schools and workplaces on addiction and practicing self-awareness - as prevention is the best cure of all. 

I have experienced the destruction of addiction first hand and I want to alter the conversation of recovery and prevention by re-educating the fundamentals of being human.
Kate Seselja

Emma Macdonald — Send Hope Not Flowers

Telstra Australian For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist
Telstra Australian Capital Territory For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

Emma Macdonald is an award-winning journalist and Associate Editor of HerCanberra by day, and a charity founder by night. Having dedicated more than 20 years to breaking news for The Canberra Times, five years ago, she followed her heart and co-founded the maternal health charity, Send Hope Not Flowers (SHNF).

SHNF aims to help more mothers survive childbirth in the developing world by delivering direct aid to mothers on the ground in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. The charity is based on a simple idea - instead of sending flowers to celebrate a new birth, friends and family can go online and make a donation to a safe birth program through SHNF.

The majority of funds raised are used to train health workers, midwives and doctors. In addition, they also provide baby bundles to give to mothers when they present at health center for a supervised birth. Emma says one of the best things arising out of the charity's work is raising public awareness of the toll of maternal mortality on communities.

It has been a steep learning curve but it’s so rewarding to know that we’re making a positive difference in the lives of so many people.
Emma Macdonald

Jessica May — Enabled Employment

Telstra Australian Capital Territory For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

Jessica May is the founder and CEO of Enabled Employment, an online labour hire company specialising in employment opportunities for people with a disability and  veterans wounded during service.

The company challenges the premise that employers should receive a subsidy to employ a person with a disability; Jessica is a firm believer that a candidate's eligibility should be assessed on merit.

Jessica established the business after recognising a need for more support for people with a disability to find gainful employment, after she herself faced discrimination. Using her skills from her diplomas in software development and project management, it only took a year to design and build the website and launch her business. 

As CEO, she is responsible for every facet of the company from securing venture capital to business development to managing her team of five. 

She won the 2015 Telstra Australian Business Women’s Start-up Award.

I am passionate about creating employment opportunities for people with a disability and wounded veterans. I believe that if you can get it right for vulnerable members of the community, you can get it right for everyone.
Jessica May

Myfanwy Galloway — Functional Fitness Australia

Telstra Australian Young Business Women's Award Finalist
Telstra Australian Capital Territory Corporate and Private Award Finalist
Telstra Australian Capital Territory Young Business Women's Award Finalist

Myfanwy Galloway was a professional cyclist racing in Europe before retiring and taking on roles in retail management and then in events and marketing. While working, she continues to complete dual Bachelors of Business and Professional Communications.

Myfanwy now holds a dual role as co-owner and business manager of Functional Fitness Australia, a brand of training facilities that is dedicated to improving each individual’s relationship with their body and how it moves to enable them to enrich their lives outside of the gym.

Myfanwy joined Functional Fitness Australia to assist in implementing a sound infrastructure to support and sustain the business through its rapid growth. Myfanwy has since consistently shown her ability to support others in turning their passions and ideas into a business.

Overseeing a team of 11 coaches, Myfanwy has implemented business systems and policies to support and encourage further growth for both the business and its team. She is responsible for managing all operations within the business including finances, HR, membership systems, class scheduling and other business offerings.

I love what I do because I see first-hand the impact that our products and services have in the community.
Myfanwy Galloway

Corinne Wallis — Arrow Facilities Management

Telstra Australian Corporate and Private Award Finalist
Telstra Australian Capital Territory Corporate and Private Award Finalist

Corinne Wallis is an MBA-qualified general manager with a technical background. She has more than a decade’s worth of experience in heavy industry, including manufacturing, offshore wind-farm construction and underground mining. She is also a licenced electrician and electrical engineer, which has seen her manage multi-million dollar projects in the steel and mining industry. 

For the past eight months, she has been general manager of Arrow Facilities Management, a certified supply nation services provider that specialises in national electrical commercial maintenance. Under her leadership, the company was able to achieve more than one million dollars in revenue within its first year of trading.

Corinne is passionate about sharing her skills. In 2015, she began volunteering for Engineers Without Borders Australia and currently sits on its board as a non-executive director. As a devoted volunteer, she also assists with the local ACT chapter who helps promote STEM skills through a school outreach program, and in 2015 she spent six months in Timor Leste initiating a professional skills development project for local engineers.

I am a strong advocate for women’s equality by creating a path for other women. Throughout my career I have frequently been the only female, and I am privileged to be a mentor and help other women navigate their own path within engineering.
Corinne Wallis

Madeline Chacos — Infinity Legal

Telstra Australian Capital Territory Young Business Women's Award Finalist

At the age of 17, Madeline Chacos had an early start in the legal sector when she was hired as a receptionist for a law firm. She was soon promoted to legal assistant, and moved to Infinity Legal as administrative assistant in 2014, taking on the role of practice manager within three months of starting. 

Madeline holds a diploma in Business Services & Administration, and is currently completing a diploma in Leadership & Management. Since starting her career, she has developed skills in human resources, finance, IT support, compliance and business development. These skills are essential to the running of the firm and allow Madeline to oversee all aspects of the business to ensure it remains profitable.

Infinity Legal is a law firm that specialises in family law and domestic violence. Its core values are to support its clients through one of the most challenging times of their lives, such as property settlement, child custody disputes and domestic violence.

Madeline is passionate about assisting other young women, supporting them professionally and personally to encourage them to achieve their goals.

From the start of my career, I was able to gain experience in various areas of law firms, cultivating a strong understanding of how they work and are run. I’ve learnt a lot professionally, developed my skills and have also learnt about myself along the way.
Madeline Chacos

Alicia Rackett — Blue Rocket Productions

Telstra Tasmanian Entrepreneur Award Finalist

In 1999, Alicia Rackett co-founded digital media company, Blue Rocket Productions, which specialises in producing innovative, animated and interactive entertainment for children across television, online and mobile.

Alicia produced Australia’s first Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI) TV series in 2000, Hoota & Snoz, which was broadcast in more than 120 countries. Since then, she has developed broadband websites and direct-to-mobile animated series, which are sold to the UK and Canada. 

Over 17 years, she has produced 17 television series, 11 of these as international co-productions working with the UK, Europe, North America, India and the Philippines.

Alicia is the managing director of Blue Rocket Productions, responsible for the day-to-day administration of the business. She is also actively involved in the production of the company’s projects, managing teams of up to 80 people. She has significant creative input into the development of programs, constantly seeking new ways to appeal to and engage with children of all cultural backgrounds, to make them laugh.

She holds the position of Chair of Wide Angle Tasmania, a screen resource organisation that nurtures local talent.

Our business mission is to entertain kids by producing quality digital content that speaks to them. I aim to enhance the understanding and experience of kids and the world in which they live.
Alicia Rackett

Penny McShane — Evomed Pty Ltd

Telstra Tasmanian Entrepreneur Award Finalist

While working in a sales and marketing role at Johnson and Johnson, Penny McShane discovered her passion for healthcare and the difference one can make to someone’s life.  

When she took a career break to start a family between 2009 and 2012, Penny started healthcare distribution company, Evomed, which has since grown into a successful international business employing four staff and a large contract team.

Evomed is a multifaceted start-up dedicated to finding new and innovative healthcare technologies to distribute in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Pakistan.  The team scours the globe to identify cutting-edge products and take them through a rigorous selection process. One such product is AccuVein, vein illumination technology that improves the safety and accuracy of IV access. 

The products sold by Evomed had previously never been sold in the market. Penny is proud to think that what she imports has a direct impact on the quality of the healthcare received by patients, and participate in raising the benchmark in the standard of care.

The success of Evomed is a testament that living regionally is no longer a disadvantage in building a successful international business.
Penny McShane

Kirri-lee Brazendale — Kirri-lee Enterprises Pty Ltd

Telstra Tasmanian Entrepreneur Award Finalist
Telstra Tasmanian Young Business Women's Award Finalist

Kirri-lee Brazendale joined the Australian Defence Force (ADF) aged 17 and travelled the world on various deployments. When she fell pregnant, she knew that her days in the ADF were numbered. She enrolled in a business degree to diversify her skills, while working full time and looking after a young baby.  

In 2014, while still in the ADF, Kirri-lee started her first business, Military Mumma, a fitness community based on the foundation that ‘a strong mind is the foundation of a strong body’. With holistic fitness services, she encourages her clients to find their inner happiness. Starting with two clients, the business recently went national with 80 private clients, 500 corporate and school clients, and 14 employees around the country. 

A year later, having leaving the ADF, Kirri-lee started Kirri Wears Pink, a motivational public speaking company. Through the business, she has worked with schools to raise awareness of eating disorders, conducted International Women’s Day networking events and business start-up workshops. 

She is continuing to grow and diversify her business through the purchase of Raw Challenge Tasmania, a mud obstacle course, which gives participants the satisfaction of accomplishing a true physical challenge.

I work hard to obtain what I want for my businesses. I do whatever it takes to succeed and as a result my businesses have experienced significant growth in the past 12 months.
Kirri-lee Brazendale

Dr Kirsten Connan — TasOGS - Tasmanian Obstetrics & Gynaecology Specialists

Telstra Australian Entrepreneur Award Finalist
Telstra Tasmanian Entrepreneur Award Finalist

Growing up in Tonga, it was Dr Kirsten Connan’s passion for people that drew her to a medical career, and her love for educating and empowering women, that led her to her specialisation in women’s health.

Kirsten co-founded TasOGS – Tasmanian Obstetrics and Gynaecology Specialists - in January 2015, as the state’s first all-female specialist obstetrics and gynaecology practice, in answer to an unmet need for local women. TasOGS provides women’s health, pregnancy, birthing and surgical care in an environment that is respectful, inclusive, non-judgemental, and conveys clinical and business excellence. 

The practice assures women have access to not just a female obstetrician/gynaecologist, but an entire team of female specialists, midwives and allied health staff.

As a medical specialist, Kirsten shares clinical responsibilities with her co-founder, Dr Tania Hingston. She takes the lead in business matters, including strategic planning, recruitment, processes, and finances. In less than 18 months, the practice has grown from two doctors and a receptionist to seven staff, three allied health professionals, and a third doctor. 

My highest priority is to empower women who attend our practice, and with them their families, by educating them about their bodies while they receive their medical and surgical care.
Dr Kirsten Connan

Lynda McKay — Beacon Foundation

Telstra Tasmanian For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

Lynda McKay is the Northern Business Engagement Manager for the Beacon Foundation, a national not-for-profit organisation that supports young Australians who are at risk of leaving school for a lifetime of welfare dependence. Beacon helps them successfully transition from education to meaningful, long-term employment.

Lynda’s role is to work with businesses, educators and communities to provide opportunities for young people while they are still at school to prevent disengagement and unemployment. She engages students in activities to prepare them for life after school, ensuring they have the skills and networks to make the most of future opportunities.

The work she initiates is based around providing authentic work exposure, creating an industry-focused curriculum, facilitating job-readiness development and securing work placement. Lynda has formed strong relations with a variety of businesses in the region, identifying and linking students into school-based apprenticeships that result in students completing year 12, while gaining a professional qualification.

Beacon Foundation works with more than 130 schools and communities across the country, with 15,000 students actively engaged in the programs annually.

Currently one in three of Australia’s unemployed are 24 years old or younger. The work that we do matters because by providing practical experiences and opportunities, it allows every young person to reach their full potential.
Lynda McKay

Bernadette Black — Brave Foundation

Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year Finalist
Telstra Australian For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist
Telstra Tasmanian Business Woman of the Year Finalist
Telstra Tasmanian For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

There are approximately 24,000 teenage pregnancies in Australia every year and when Bernadette Black was 16 years old, she was one of them. Although now happily married with three children, Bernadette’s pregnancy experience inspired her to found the Brave Foundation in 2009, a charity that builds a community of support and acceptance around anyone facing teenage pregnancy and parenthood.

Brave Foundation is the first and only national charity in Australia that exists to provide access to support and education opportunities to pregnant and parenting teens and their loved ones who find themselves in this situation. Brave provides flexible educational opportunities and pathways, which helps to reduce lower socio-economic outcomes, as well as alleviate government economic burden. As a direct outcome of Bernadette’s hard work, more pregnant and parent teenagers are finishing secondary school, remaining in employment, establishing a happy and healthy family and having a positive impact on the community. 

Brave Foundation also has a comprehensive social media strategy and provides scholarship opportunities for secondary and tertiary education to assist with childcare, travel and the material costs of education.

It is my mission to reduce stigma, build families and strengthen communities by building up the village of support and acceptance around anyone facing teen pregnancy and parenthood, turning the trajectory of generations.
Bernadette Black

Penny Egan — Cancer Council Tasmania

Telstra Tasmanian For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

Penny Egan has held a number of senior roles in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. She has been CFO of Forestry Tasmania, and the CFO and CEO of the Business Services Network at the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services. At present, she is the CEO of Cancer Council Tasmania (CCT). 

Cancer Council Tasmania is a charity providing services to people of all ages, who have been impacted by cancer. Their services include practical, face-to-face and telephone support, financial assistance, support groups and programs. CCT also undertakes cancer-prevention activities, which educates individuals on the steps they can take to reduce cancer risk, with a focus on being sun smart and not smoking. 

Penny says that every day more than eight Tasmanians are diagnosed with cancer, a figure that is likely to increase over the next five years due to Tasmania’s ageing population and increased early detection. She says, for this reason, her work and that of CCT’s must continue by providing services and support to those impacted by the disease.

My parents both died of cancer. I am passionate about fighting and beating cancer because of them.
Penny Egan

Penny Egan — Cancer Council Tasmania

Telstra Tasmanian For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

Penny Egan has held a number of senior roles in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors. She has been CFO of Forestry Tasmania, and the CFO and CEO of the Business Services Network at the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services. At present, she is the CEO of Cancer Council Tasmania (CCT). 

Cancer Council Tasmania is a charity providing services to people of all ages, who have been impacted by cancer. Their services include practical, face-to-face and telephone support, financial assistance, support groups and programs. CCT also undertakes cancer-prevention activities, which educates individuals on the steps they can take to reduce cancer risk, with a focus on being sun smart and not smoking. 

Penny says that every day more than eight Tasmanians are diagnosed with cancer, a figure that is likely to increase over the next five years due to Tasmania’s ageing population and increased early detection. She says, for this reason, her work and that of CCT’s must continue by providing services and support to those impacted by the disease.

My parents both died of cancer. I am passionate about fighting and beating cancer because of them.
Penny Egan

Melody Towns — Be Hers

Telstra Australian Young Business Women's Award Finalist
Telstra Tasmanian For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist
Telstra Tasmanian Young Business Women's Award Finalist

When Melody Towns first heard about the 27 million people that are currently enslaved by human trafficking around the world, she was holding her own daughter and couldn’t believe that other people’s daughters were kidnapped and raped multiple times a day until they either escaped or died. She couldn’t understand how only one per cent of victims were rescued and so decided to do something to address this global issue by founding Be Hers. 

Melody founded Be Hers on the premise that ‘She Matters’. She, being every woman and child that has had their basic human right of freedom stolen from them. She could be your daughter, sister or friend. She is the local woman, living in freedom that thinks to herself ‘How could I help’? She may be the victim of domestic violence, rape, or just caught in her own insecurities. Be Hers exists to place value on every woman and empowers her to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves, those who are enslaved by the horrific sex slavery industry. 

Melody works in partnership with The A21 Campaign, a global anti-human trafficking organisation, to develop strategies and discuss how to best use their fundraising. All of Be Hers’ fundraising initiatives are donated to The A21 Campaign. 

My passion is to live a life of generosity. I strongly believe that it is impossible to out-give ourselves. Be Hers asks every woman to use their freedom to fight for the freedom of others.
Melody Towns

Emma Price — Source Kids

Telstra Tasmanian For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award Finalist

There are currently 850,000 Australians under the age of 25 living with a disability. Each of these individuals is supported by a team including family, carers and professionals, equating to millions of people affected in some way by children and young adults with a disability. As a mother to a seven-year old daughter with Angelman Syndrome, Emma Price knows first-hand that parents of children with special needs experience many challenges in their life, so she decided to make life a little bit easier for those parents by creating Source Kids magazine.

Source Kids answers a clear need for parents and carers working with children with special needs. The magazine provides the most relevant, reliable and up-to-date information and delivers it to its audience through an easy to read and positive ‘source’.

The magazine is produced four times a year and is distributed in hard copy for free in more than 110 outlets in five states of Australia. It is also available online.

Last year the total reach of the magazine was just under 750,000, which was a massive increase from the 460,000 readers the year prior. This year, Source Kids is expecting its reach to be in the millions.

I love what I do because I know it matters to so many people. Having a child with a disability, I live the experience of our audience every day. I understand the challenges first-hand and know what our audiences need.
Emma Price

Penny Terry — ABC

Telstra Australian Public Sector and Academia Award Finalist
Telstra Tasmanian Public Sector and Academia Award Finalist

Penny Terry began her career in creative advertising at Clemenger BBDO in Melbourne, where at the age of 21, became the sole account manager for a high volume international account. She then went on to work abroad in tourism, hospitality and in-home aged care before beginning with the ABC in 2006. Since then, Penny has worked as a radio presenter and producer, journalist and rural reporter presenting to national, local and online audiences. 

As a public broadcaster, the ABC’s programs should “contribute to a sense of national identity and inform, entertain and reflect the cultural diversity of the Australian community” (ABC Charter). Penny says she feels privileged to deliver the ABC’s strategy to help Australians better understand the place they live in and how changes in policy affect them, to empower them to be a part of the national conversation and to help connect people with similar interests. 

Penny’s main role is to present a two-hour, live radio program daily. She is responsible for researching stories, sourcing talent and finding innovative, creative and relevant ways to connect with her audience on air, online and on social media.

One of the things I value the most about working at the ABC is being able to tell stories and report on events simply because they are important to my audience.
Penny Terry

Kimberley Martin — Worrall Lawyers

Telstra Tasmanian Corporate and Private Award Finalist
Telstra Tasmanian Young Business Women's Award Finalist

At the age of 28, Kimberley Martin’s career in the traditionally male dominated profession of law has been anything but uneventful. As a senior associate at Worrall Lawyers, a firm that specialises in private client work, Kimberley’s core practice is providing specialist advice and developing client specific solutions in estate planning and related fields.   

Since beginning practice in 2012, Kimberley has developed a state, national and international presence through her published work, presentations and media exposure. Most notably, she has had her work published internationally, has been quoted in The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and was interviewed on ABC’s nationally broadcast 7.30 program for her work on digital life after death.  She is also the current secretary of a global working group known as the STEP Digital Asset Working Group, and is currently undertaking her LL.M (Masters of Laws).   

Outside of her busy work schedule, Kimberley has strong involvement in the wider community. She regularly presents to local industry groups and community organisations, is a director and deputy-chair of the Glenorchy Community Fund, and regularly volunteers her time mentoring high school and university students.

By assisting my clients to plan for their incapacity and death, or find solutions when there is no plan, I help them to find peace of mind for an issue that affects everybody. I love what I do, and it is something I hope to do for the rest of my life.
Kimberley Martin

Belinda Hazell — Optimum Standard

Telstra Tasmanian Corporate and Private Award Finalist

Belinda Hazell has worked in small to medium businesses since the beginning of her professional career. This experience has helped her to understand the importance of having clear systems to make businesses operate with ease and efficiency. 

Currently, she is a principal consultant with Optimum Standard, which aims to be the provider of choice for business management system solutions. It operates across a wide range of industry sectors, from primary industry, waste management to food manufacturing and civil construction, enabling their valued clients to meet and exceed market and customer requirements. In this role, she specializes in structuring, standardising and streamlining business processes to provide more accurate and productive systems that enhance performance and facilitate better business decisions.  

Along the way she has undertaken courses to upskill in building project management, strategic and leadership skills and now progressing to accomplish an MBA. Presently, she is using this experience to a state and national level through not-for-profit and volunteer Board involvement.

Helping SMBs invest in themselves to achieve results through the right systems is what motivates me because I can see the tangible difference I make.
Belinda Hazell

Naomi Edwards — Tasplan Super

Telstra Tasmanian Corporate and Private Award Finalist

Until 2001, Naomi Edwards had a high-flying role based in Sydney with frequent trips across Asia as a consulting actuary and senior partner at Deloitte. At 35, she relocated to Tasmania and began a new career after taking a hiatus to be with her ill husband.

For the past 15 years, Naomi has been dedicated to using her financial expertise to champion environmental and social justice causes. Naomi has chaired ASX-listed Australian Ethical Investment, provided pro bono advice to groups as diverse as The Wilderness Society and refugee advocate groups and in 2011, became the Chairwoman of Tasplan Super. 

Tasplan Super, following its merger with RBF, manages the retirement savings for more than 150,000 Tasmanians, over half of the Tasmanian workforce. Naomi says that her proudest achievement was negotiating a three-way merger of independent Tasmanian super funds, which ensured the viability of maintaining a local superannuation fund. This merger required Naomi to negotiate with multiple boards, executive groups, unions and politicians to agree on the complex transition and pass the required government legislation.

It is a privilege to help improve the financial wellbeing of the community by providing sound advice, education and investment to ensure Tasmanians achieve their best possible retirement outcomes.
Naomi Edwards

Alicia Leis — WLF Accounting & Advisory

Telstra Australian Corporate and Private Award Finalist
Telstra Tasmanian Corporate and Private Award Finalist

In 2013 Alicia Leis became the third female partner appointed to WLF Accounting & Advisory, a wholly-owned Tasmanian chartered accounting and advisory firm.  In response to the growing importance of risk management and governance, Alicia has built a new internal audit and risk service offering from the ground up and now leads the consulting and internal audit divisions of WLF.  

Since securing her first contract in 2012, Alicia has established a large portfolio of clients and secured revenue in excess of $2M in under five years. This new offering has positioned WLF as a leader in the Tasmanian market, and has contributed to WLF successfully navigating disruptive shifts in the accounting industry.  

Alicia is lead partner for marketing and spearheaded a full rebrand for the firm delivering a contemporary new identity and brand purpose.  Alicia is Vice Chair of the Institute of Internal Auditors Tasmanian Chapter and is currently leading an initiative to embed a staff development framework across the business.  Using her professional skills, Alicia delivers governance and risk training to not-for-profit organisations at reduced rates or pro bono.

My work directly leads to better practices, more engaged staff, stronger decision making at the executive level, and organisations who can deliver their objectives more effectively and efficiently.
Alicia Leis

Renee Parry — Parry Real Estate Pty Ltd

Telstra Tasmanian Young Business Women's Award Finalist

In 2014, with minimal funds, Renee Parry launched Parry Real Estate, a boutique real estate agency specialising in rental and sales across Launceston. The company is thriving and currently has 11 employees across the sales, rental and administration departments.  

As owner and director of Parry Real Estate, Renee is the main decision maker and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the business including staff training, financials, business, marketing and researching new ventures to grow the company.

Renee says one of the biggest challenges she faces is changing the perception of real estate agents, which she aims to do by creating a culture of trust and transparency. She says that she wants her clients experience to be ‘un-real estate’, not the generic real estate experience, ensuring that they feel confident that their assets are being taken care of and they are able to invest in a home not just a house.

believe that hard work and passion have their own rewards and there is nothing as powerful as believing in yourself.
Renee Parry

Jessica Norton — Eat Safe Live Well

Telstra Tasmanian Young Business Women's Award Finalist

Suffering from numerous food allergies and coeliac disease led Jessica Norton to found her business, Eat Safe Live Well, in 2013. She undertook this venture after recognising a market void in the display and offering of allergy conscious dietary requirements in Tasmanian restaurants, cafes, wholefood providers, workplaces and schools.

Over the past three years, Jessica has focused on educating the community on alternative foods and adapting meals for various dietary requirements. One way she is doing this is by sharing tips on her website and free app. Both platforms offer healthy recipes, suggestions of local places to eat and advice on managing health and wellbeing through diet.

As part of her community engagement, Jessica holds an annual high tea to bring locals with special dietary requirements together so they can learn tips and tricks from each other, while also providing support for each other.

My main goal is to provide the community with education on allergy awareness, health and wellness. We can never stop learning or having enough information and resources.
Jessica Norton

Finalists are announced progressively around the country. Finalists for this State/Territory will be published shortly. Please check again soon.

Finalists are announced progressively around the country. Finalists for this State/Territory will be published shortly. Please check again soon.

Finalists are announced progressively around the country. Finalists for this State/Territory will be published shortly. Please check again soon.

Finalists are announced progressively around the country. Finalists for this State/Territory will be published shortly. Please check again soon.

Finalists are announced progressively around the country. Finalists for this State/Territory will be published shortly. Please check again soon.

Finalists are announced progressively around the country. Finalists for this State/Territory will be published shortly. Please check again soon.

Finalists are announced progressively around the country. Finalists for this State/Territory will be published shortly. Please check again soon.

Finalists are announced progressively around the country. Finalists for this State/Territory will be published shortly. Please check again soon.

National Finalists will be announced once all State Finalists have been selected. Please check again soon.