During her 18-year service with energy supplier ActewAGL, Ayesha Razzaq has climbed the ranks to General Manager Retail. A position which involves leading a dynamic business through a time of significant industry change.
With a background in engineering, Ayesha is committed to a customer-centric focus that runs through every level of the business. This has seen her overhaul ActewAGL Retail’s operations to help customers view the company as a solutions-based energy supplier.
Since 2015, Ayesha has also been leading ActewAGL Retail’s digital business transformation program. Harnessing disruptive technology, ActewAGL is building capability to accommodate the changing needs of customers. One such project Ayesha has led was the company’s implementation of a new billing and customer management system – the largest technology undertaking ever made by the business.
Belle Chadwick began Chadwick Designs at just 25 years of age while caring for her nine-month old baby. Having previously worked for McDonalds Asia Pacific Consortium and Wrigleys, Belle decided to follow her passion for business, renovation and design, throwing herself into the interior design and building industry.
As the Managing Director, Belle ensures that Chadwick Designs helps every client add value and beauty to their home or business. The female-led business has achieved lofty goals since its inception and upon opening its retail showroom, the business increased sales by 200%.
Catherine Walsh has always been a high flyer, with a career that started in the Air Force and led to becoming a director for the Australian Government Department of Finance. Today, she is directly responsible for influencing the course of government policy and expenditure decisions that will affect every Australian in the country.
Catherine’s altruistic nature and ability to challenge the status quo are driving forces behind her unwavering ambition to realise the best ethical outcomes for individual, team, organisational and societal benefit. Her work has seen her develop a pilot program to help veterans find suitable employment after leaving the military, and deliver impartial financial advice to the most senior government officials in the run up to the annual federal budget announcement.
Award collected by Edwina Jans on behalf of Daryl.
With an international education, Daryl Karp has 30 years of experience working within cultural industries, including for ABC TV and Film Australia. Her time in this space has given her an appreciation of the intrinsic value of democracy.
Currently, as Director of The Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, Daryl has overseen a period of significant growth, with visitor numbers more than doubling in the past four years.
Today, the museum provides a space for all Australians to explore and engage with the concepts of active citizenship, by reflecting on, and connecting with, our democratic traditions.
Daryl attributes much of her success to her ability to take new ideas, trends and technology, and find ways to look at problems from different perspectives.
Elise Apolloni has been working in pharmacies since she was 14 years old. After becoming a qualified pharmacist, she managed Capital Chemist Wanniassa for two years before eventually becoming a partner in the business.
Elise’s vision is for Capital Chemist Wanniassa to make a positive impact on the health of the community. Her wish is to connect customers with the most passionate and educated pharmacy health experts in Canberra.
After the untimely passing of a co-worker, Elise developed a passion for better informing her community about mental health issues. She continues to raise awareness by volunteering as a telephone crisis supporter at Lifeline Canberra and as a phone counsellor for the National Pharmacists' Support Service, as well as becoming an instructor for 'Mental Health First Aid' training.
On a day-to-day basis, personal trainer and health coach Jenifer Lee Apps inspires women to overcome their limitations and become who and what they want to be in life.
Having been motivated to join a gym in an attempt to counter her own body image and self-esteem issues, Jenifer was empowered by the confidence that strength training gave her.
Wanting to help other women achieve the same confidence and health she found, Jenifer pursued a series of fitness qualifications. She began to offer sessions focused on nutrition, strength and following a healthy, balanced lifestyle, which she sees as the key to transforming self-doubt into self-confidence, and helping the women of Australia to thrive.
Brought up by a single mother, who had experienced family violence, Julia Heinze learnt early in life what it meant to be a strong independent woman. This spurred her on to complete a Juris Doctor at Newcastle University and pursue a legal career.
Being voted in as President of the ACT Women Lawyers Association in 2010 cemented Julia’s desire to further the careers of women in the law, and to act on behalf of vulnerable people. She became qualified as an Independent Children's Lawyer, and in 2013 founded Infinity Legal with the purpose of making a difference.
Julia’s law practice advocates to ensure the safety of families; from supporting them in leaving family violence situations, to helping them navigate the complicated, difficult family law system.
With a clinical background in intensive care and aged care, Kylie Ward has been nursing for 26 years. Currently, as CEO of the Australian College of Nursing (ACN), Kylie aims to enhance healthcare by advancing nurse leadership; supporting those who are often overlooked in the medical industry and encouraging them to know their worth.
With a sound knowledge of the significant contribution nurses make to health and aged care, community outcomes and patient experiences, Kylie is passionate about the nursing profession.
Through the ACN, Kylie provides a platform for nurses around Australia to advocate for themselves, access greater education and connect with the wider nursing community. Her career success has been rewarded with three honorary Professorships at Deakin, Monash and UTS universities.
Passionate about both the built environment and championing women in the construction industry, Lisa Dart is on a mission to bring greater diversity to one of Australia’s most male-dominated industries.
Her role as ACT Chapter President for the National Association for Women in Construction (NAWIC) sees her unite women across various areas of the industry, empowering them through locally run events and programs delivered by the ACT Chapter.
In the four years since her tenure began, Lisa has increased the not-for-profit’s membership from 80 solely financial members to 271 active members across the corporate, individual and student demographics. This rapid growth, is testament to the power of Lisa’s advocacy work and the way in which she engages industry and government partners.
As a classroom teacher for 14 years, Mary-Anne Apps became keenly aware of the challenges faced by children with special needs.
In 2011, she opened The Apps Learning Centre – a provider of fun, multi-sensory one-on-one tuition for young people with learning and behavioural difficulties.
Mary-Anne’s business started out as a one-room, one-employee operation tutoring five clients a week. Today, The Apps Learning Centre’s larger premises can now accommodate five teachers and five students simultaneously. The centre accepts children from primary and secondary schools across Canberra and regional areas, with many being referred by psychologists. More recently, it has expanded its offering to provide support for preschool aged children and is looking to assist young apprentice tradespeople, too.
Dr Sue Williamson has spent her entire adult life working to progress gender equality.
As a full-time academic, she has spent the past four years teaching human resource management at the University of NSW, Canberra, where she provides tertiary education to military cadets at the Australian Defence Force Academy.
At a college with an ingrained, male-dominated culture, Sue’s work has contributed to a cultural shift in attitudes. Today, the teaching and research of such gender equity issues has been successfully incorporated into teaching activities, drawing support from students and senior management teams alike.
Having spent the last 23 years working in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN), Lieutenant Commander Susan Harris is no stranger to blazing a trail for women. Not only was Susan the first female officer to conduct the Submarine Warfare Officers course in 1994, she was also Dux and a Sword of Honour recipient.
As a submariner, Susan provides defence of the nation and protects Australian interests, through strategic naval deterrence. She is also the first female in the RAN to take the prestigious position of Submarine 2nd in Command.
Since having her first child, Susan has championed and successfully employed flexible work arrangements. While fulfilling her own personal goals, she also hopes that other women will see that a full personal life and a professional career are possible, and choose to follow in her footsteps.
Alison Hill kick-started her studies into human behaviour with a degree in psychology. She went on to work as a rehabilitation counsellor and a psychologist, in the fields of depression, anxiety and personality-disorders.
Pragmatic Thinking, a behaviour and motivation strategy company, sprung from her interest in human skills in the workplace. Alison’s company works with corporates to ensure their business strategy is successful, working across the areas of cultural impacts, leadership capability and creating phenomenal workplace cultures.
The purpose of Alison’s business is to make a difference to the difference-makers: the leadership and management layers of organisations. Pragmatic Thinking creates bespoke solutions to improve the work of aspirational leaders and managers, based on the science of psychology, through motivation, behaviour and design.
Alyce Keegan took her passion for art and transformed it into a lucrative craft education business with a social impact. Kit and Clowder teaches online art and craft classes for all skill levels. Through its community, the business support crafters who are dealing with disability, loss, illness and depression, providing a fun creative outlet but also a form of therapy and support.
After realising the potential of Kit and Clowder as a nourishing community for people who are struggling, Alyce got a Diploma in Art Therapy. She now runs her business as both a place to create art and as a safe space for people to share their experiences.
Antonia Mercorella is the first female CEO in The Real Estate Institute of Queensland’s 99-year history, and also the youngest.
Antonia has nursed the business back to financial health, and reinvigorated its standing as the peak body for real estate agents in Queensland.
All the while, Antonia has maintained her own style of leadership, placing great value on being genuine in business dealings and communications. She sees her media and public profile as essential in her business’ efforts to represent its 15,000 members both in government negotiations and with the wider public.
Bernadette Eriksen took an unorthodox route into the food industry. After considering studies in food technology, she instead chose accountancy, arming herself with the knowledge to run a business. Now, Bernadette is the CEO of Flavour Creations, a company that provides essential nutrition services to some of Australia’s most vulnerable people, primarily those living with dysphagia.
50 percent of aged-care residents suffer from malnutrition and dehydration. Flavour Creations’ pre-thickened drinks and nutritionally advanced product solutions assist clients from infants to the elderly to restore their diet by making their food enticing and accessible.
Bernadette founded Flavour Creations 20 years ago, and her products can now be found in every government-owned hospital in Australia.
Breeanna Brock was the first female CEO to be appointed in the AFL. In her five-year tenure in female football, she has cemented Queensland’s reputation as one of the powerhouse states for women’s AFL.
By establishing the Brisbane Lions inaugural women’s team, who went on to play an undefeated debut AFLW season, Breeanna has created a full playing pathway for the women and girls of Queensland. With access to this elite, high performing environment, females are no longer forced to abandon a game they love due to lack of professional opportunity.
Above all, Breeanna’s work is slowly dismantling age-old thinking around female representation in sport, to create a more level, gender-balanced, playing field.
Having worked as a disability and mental health support worker, and in various youth focused roles, Carla-Louise Wallace is no stranger to some of society’s most complex issues.
Starting her career in what is considered New Zealand’s largest and toughest youth detention centre, Carla-Louise realised she wanted to make a difference in the lives of others.
Carla-Louise’s wealth of front-line experience has been invaluable in her current role as the Area Manager Far North Queensland (FNQ) for Cootharinga, a not-for-profit supporting people to live the lives they want.
Every day, Carla-Louise continues in her mission to bring down the barriers faced by vulnerable people in FNQ. In less than a year, she has transformed Cootharinga FNQ’s internal culture using her nurturing leadership style to grow a network of passionate carers, team leaders and service managers.
Caroline McCulloch, a podiatrist and physiotherapist, had a dilemma: when treating patients, she found it difficult to recommend comfortable footwear she would want to wear herself. So, she set out to design her own fashionable footwear with body mechanics in mind. After ten prototypes and lots of testing, in 2011, she launched her first two styles in to the market and hasn’t looked back.
Now with more than 20 styles, FRANKiE4 provides fashion-forward, comfortable footwear to over 90 Australian and New Zealand stockists, as well as via an online store and two concept stores in Brisbane.
As proud family business owners and parents, Caroline and her husband Alan are always looking for ways to make a difference. Recently, they developed a sock range solely to raise funds for Brisbane-based charity Brain Child.
Innately creative, Charlotte Durack was passionate about finding a role that would let her imagination run riot on meaningful projects. A year ago, she decided to carve out her own dream role by founding full-service creative agency, Agri Creative.
With strong family roots in the Australian bush giving her a competitive edge, Charlotte specialises in connecting the unique stories of Australia’s agricultural and primary production businesses with their target markets.
While Agri Creative might be a small business, it’s already made a big impact. Most recently, Charlotte beat a number of other, more established, agencies to work on a cutting-edge rebrand for one of the world’s largest meat production companies.
With a career in local government and the not-for-profit sector spanning 26 years, Coralie Nichols has always been passionate about serving local communities. As the Director of Community Services at Sunshine Coast Council, one of the largest local governments in Australia, Coralie leads community campaigns on social issues such as domestic violence, mental health and reconciliation.
Her influence was also seen in the launch of the Horizon Festival, an arts and culture event attended by over 35,000 people, and the rebranding of the Sunshine Coast Stadium, a facility which was awarded Parks & Leisure Australia QLD Event of the Year 2017.
She has previously held roles such as CEO for Anglicare NT and has provided much-needed human services across the Northern Territory.
Ellen Powell founded Australian fine paper goods and stationery company, Blushing Confetti, at age 24 – when she noticed a gap in the market for wedding stationery.
Putting her skills as a graphic designer and natural flair to good use, she started with creating her own wedding stationery and was soon asked by others to design for them.
Three years on, her business has evolved to stock a wide range of stationery including signature greeting cards and wrap, art prints, planners, agendas, diaries, notebooks and to-do-lists for the modern woman. She sells her products directly to consumers through her website, while also working closely with stockists both in Australia and internationally.
At 23, Fleur Madden was a rising star in journalism, having worked with ABC TV, Today Tonight and The Sunday Mail. However, Fleur saw a gap in the public relations market in Brisbane for a dedicated consumer PR agency and founded The Red Republic.
Fast forward 15 years and Fleur has led the expansion of The Red Republic to be an integrated communications agency with offices in Brisbane, Sydney, the Gold Coast and Los Angeles, with an expanded range of services. Last year Fleur negotiated the sale of The Red Republic to global, publicly listed, creative agency McCann Worldgroup. As CEO, Fleur has successfully integrated her business with McCann, while maintaining its’ boutique identity and achieving significant growth. Fleur is an international board member.
Gail Ker OAM has dedicated her life to championing the causes of refugees and migrants, and culturally and linguistically diverse communities.
Gail has a 30-year history at Access Community Services, where her professional purpose is centred on addressing disadvantage to cultivate community inclusiveness.
One of Queensland’s largest and leading not-for-profits, Access provides support services designed to help individuals, families and communities to effectively settle and engage in their new environments.
As the organisation’s CEO, Gail heads up the team of over 300 employees and over 200 registered volunteers. Collectively, staff come from over 50 different countries and speak over 90 different languages or dialects, with the organisation’s own cultural make-up reflecting the diversity of the regions in which it operates.
A technology-first approach of doing business allows Jacqueline Gallagher to manage Notch Above Bookkeeping and its team of five employees, all from her home office in Brisbane.
Notch Above specialises in the accounting software Xero, with all material kept in the cloud. Jacqueline first saw the potential of cloud-based technology when she lived abroad during the infancy of her business. Upon her return to Australia, she looked again to the cloud to help her provide real-time accounting and record-keeping solutions for her clients. This enabled them to make informed financial decisions to push their businesses forward.
Jacqueline’s next goal is to expand Notch Above’s online library of training videos for both clients and staff.
After 19 years of experience in corporate executive HR and management consulting, Jade Collins read a statistic that changed her career focus: 85 per cent of consumer purchase decisions are made by women.
Inspired by this knowledge, Jade founded Femeconomy – a website that lists brands and assesses their support of women in leadership roles. Femeconomy now features more than 2,000 brands. 800 of these brands either have boards consisting of 30 per cent women or more, or are at least 50 per cent female owned. Consumers can use this information to help guide their purchasing decisions.
Jade initially set out to make the world a better place for her 10-year-old daughter, and with Femeconomy’s plans to expand to the UK and US, her influence is only spreading.
With a background living and working in remote communities, both in blue and white collar roles, Kyra Bonney is a passionate advocate for closing the gap in employment inequality in Australia.
As General Manager of Indigenous Strategy for Chandler Macleod Groups Staffing Services team, Kyra strives to create opportunities through employment, training and education. Kyra’s role is to establish a team of Indigenous recruitment specialists across Australia, who focus on the long-term employment and development of Indigenous Australians.
In 2014, Kyra was awarded the Most Outstanding Woman in Resources Award (Western Australia) by the Chamber of Minerals and Energy and was recognised as a finalist in the Exceptional Women in Australian Resources National Awards.
Melissa Stanford’s start-up venture, Add Staff, unites her four areas of expertise: STEM industries, education and training, recruitment, and business management.
Establishing Add Staff as a means of connecting blue-collar companies with qualified employees, Melissa looks to foster both organisational growth and individual professional development in corporate environments.
She also recently founded an apprentice recruitment and mentoring arm of the business to address national skills shortages and support young people in kickstarting their career. Melissa is similarly passionate about encouraging women to enter non-traditional careers in trades industries and opening the minds of employers to the benefits of employing female team members.
Michelle Baxter has spent close to 25 years working in the ambulance service. Starting out as a paramedic, she now holds the Assistant Commissioner Cairns and Hinterland position for Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS), one of the largest ambulance services in the world.
Her role involves managing a $34 million budget and a team of 250, who Michelle believes are the organisation’s greatest asset.
With her natural ability to connect with people, and as one of few females in senior positions within the QAS, Michelle dedicates much of her time to leading cultural change initiatives intended to balance the gender split.
Testament to her achievements, in 2012, Michelle received an Ambulance Service Medal (ASM) for professionalism, leadership and community service.
Three decades ago, Michelle McDowall started her accountancy firm as a one-woman business. Today, Arabon Accountants services around 3,000 clients with a team of 24 staff.
Michelle takes a whole-of-business approach to accounting, maintaining a focus on relationships instead of numbers. This allows Arabon’s clients to achieve their lifestyle goals alongside their financial ones.
Arabon’s company culture is essential to its success, and Michelle’s business mentality is reflected in her team – one member of which has been with her since the early days, while several others have served for more than 10 years.
Michelle counts her ongoing mentorship of her son Rob as her proudest achievement. He is now a partner in the firm and Michelle sees him as a future principal.
Dr Nicki Murdock is a passionate advocate for quality healthcare, both as a practitioner and in terms of management and governance styles.
A UK paediatrician and GP who migrated to Australia in 2001, Nicki was struck by the burden of poorly designed compliance requirements and IT systems imposed on healthcare workers.
Intent on alleviating these industry pressures, Nicki harnessed her entrepreneurial nature and appetite for the high-risk to set up Health Leaders Australia. The company provides IT solutions to assist in accreditation of safe, high quality health services and education.
Today, her tenacity has created a tidal wave of change across the sector, helping to shift resource allocation towards patient care and away from time-consuming compliance requirements.
St Patrick’s College in Townsville had declining enrolments before Paulina Skerman took on the role of Principal.
Home to 400 female students, the school caters for an extremely diverse group of girls: disadvantaged and privileged, remote and international, academically able and those with significant learning gaps.
Paulina holds a firm belief in the power of education to transform lives, along with an unshakeable drive to defy stereotypes.
In the two years since her appointment, she has led a revitalisation of every facet of the organisation. Student enrolments have increased by 40 per cent, the college’s rich cultural diversity has been strengthened, and the internal cultural change has been remarkable. Students are empowered and future focused, and through Paulina’s hard work and dedication, have been afforded opportunities to travel to the likes of Cambodia and the NASA Space Centre.
Sandra Gillanders ran her own business management consultancy firm for eight years. But when she suffered debilitating spinal injuries in a horse-riding accident, the upheaval to her personal life necessitated a change. Upon moving to Queensland in 2012, she was appointed CEO of Hy-Performance Fluid Power, a niche manufacturer and supplier of components for mining drills.
When Sandra joined the business, 80 percent of its revenue came from one customer, with no proactive sales generation and poor company culture. Sandra’s vision allowed the business owner to step back from management duties, giving her the space to implement measures to promote a positive working environment and reposition Hy-Performance Fluid Power as a global brand.
Sharon Cowden joined the Australian Federal Police (AFP) 33 years ago at just 19. She now holds the rank of Commander and is the only female State Manager in the AFP.
Aside from dedicating her life to the safety of Australians, Sharon is also passionate about advocating for other women within the AFP and giving them a voice.
Sharon oversees the Cultural Reform Committee for the State and currently sits on the Mental Health Board of the AFP. She has been awarded a Commissioner’s Medal for Excellence, a Commissioner’s Group Citation for Conspicuous Conduct, and has been recognised by the Australian Council of Women and Police for her work with Pacific Island police women.
Tishara Mina is the general manager for jewellery brand Emma and Roe – part of international jewellery conglomerate, the Michael Hill Group.
Built on a heritage of strong women, the Emma and Roe brand speaks to the self-purchasing and empowered female – character traits that resonate profoundly with Tishara.
When told that changing the internal behaviours and sales results with the existing Emma and Roe team was too difficult, Tishara refused to shy away from the challenge. Instead, through her open leadership style and by investing heavily in employees’ professional development, she is leading this new brand with determination and direction which will allow everyone to achieve their goals.
Mental health no longer has to hide behind closed doors, according to Vivian Jarrett. Under her direction, Vision Psychology advocates the business benefits of knowledge-sharing, with its range of websites offering free information and advice to 1,000 new visitors every day.
Vision is Queensland’s largest privately owned psychology practice, and Vivian is ambitious about commercialising psychology to help overcome the severe lack of funding in the field. She believes the future of the industry lies with young people – particularly the talents in Vision’s Psych-Ed internship program.
With more than 60 practitioners sharing 16 rooms across two practices, Vivian anticipates continued growth, as the wider population is now open to a dialogue about maintaining mental health, not just treating mental illness.
Zoe Black’s personal experience, as the survivor of an abusive relationship, taught her the value of mental health care. Having grown up with parents who were wildlife carers, Zoe’s love of animals combined with her passion to help others, led her to start Happy Paws Happy Hearts (HPHH).
HPHH creates positive change by connecting isolated people in the community with rescue animals, allowing individuals to feel empowered to achieve their own goals while training animals for future adoption.
Initially looking for 14 volunteers to get started, HPHH ended up receiving 120 volunteer applications. They hand-picked 40 students who were engaged with their vision, many who still volunteer today. HPHH’s outcomes-based course has made the enterprise eligible for disability funding to secure its future.
Dr Anushi Rajapaksa is an academic biomedical engineer and emerging researcher in the field of bedside technologies for newborn babies. Her work at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has the capacity to transform the face of child health globally.
In her career highlights to date, Anushi led the discovery of new engineering technology designed to create a revolutionary, non-invasive and pain-free way to deliver vaccines. A major breakthrough in the field, Anushi’s research offers an alternative to current cold-chain and needle methodologies, which are associated with safety concerns in developing countries.
Coupled with this, Anushi is responsible for developing a newborn screening tool in resource-limited, rural settings to enable better detection of high risk health conditions, such as jaundice, in premature babies.
Bessi Graham lives by the belief that business can be a powerful agent for change – provided you embed the good you want to see in the world into your business model.
Her startup venture, The Difference Incubator (TDi), looks to empower entrepreneurs to create sustainable business models, complete with the measurement frameworks necessary to deliver positive social and environmental outcomes.
However, TDi has an additional purpose: countering the world’s entrenched social and environmental issues. Through her leadership and entrepreneurial drive, Bessi is intent on building Australia’s impact investment market by turning all forms of capital into investment, funding and growth opportunities.
As a law graduate, Emily McCarthy wasn’t interested in a career in a traditional legal practice. Instead, she set about cutting her teeth in the NewLaw sector, an avenue that blended her passion for law and innovation.
With just 18 months’ experience, Emily stepped into a role as Head of Talent for a NewLaw firm.
From there, she assisted in the establishing lexvoco, a start-up whose mission is to help organisations achieve better outcomes from legal services by providing top legal talent to legal teams, as well as through the use of technology innovation.
With Emily at its helm as a Principal, lexvoco is successfully disrupting the legal industry, making access to quality legal advice simpler and more effective through the use of technology and agile methodologies.
Gemma Fordham started her career in radio at just 14, answering studio phones. Since then she has been an executive producer for several high-rating shows, and worked as a creative executive for Nicole Kidman as part of her film production company.
Now, in her role as head of content for the Hit Network at Southern Cross Austereo (SCA), Gemma ensures the Hit brand is maintained across 43 stations nationally.
Radio has long been known as a male-dominated industry, and when Gemma was appointed head of the network she was the first woman to fill the role. Gemma is proud of this achievement and hopes she is the first of many to come.
When Gemma Lloyd arrived at university, her goal was to become a dietician, but she soon followed her passions into IT. After ten years in the male-dominated industry, Gemma decided to apply her technical and business skills to helping fellow women achieve equality in the workplace.
DCC Jobs, of which Gemma is a co-founder, is the only Australian job listings site that pre-screens companies based on their policies and initiatives to support women. The company turns down approximately ten percent of business due to advertisers not meeting the criteria.
DCC’s initiatives have had real-world impacts, with the likes of Laing O’Rourke, CSR and Cbus all moving to change their policies on issues like paid parental leave and domestic violence.
Every day, nine Australians are lost to suicide. With two decades’ experience in mental health reform, Prof Jane Burns has dedicated her career to mental illness and suicide prevention.
From 2011-16, Jane raised $130 million as the founder and CEO of Young and Well, a research centre that helped redefine health care policy for young people. Today, Jane is the CEO of InnoWell, a partnership between PwC and the University of Sydney that promotes digital mental health solutions, providing help within minutes – not months – for at-risk Australians.
Jane authored the National Mental Health Commission report on new and emerging technologies, and manages partnerships with the Department of Health and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
Travelling to Indonesia at 14 changed Justine Flynn’s life irrevocably. Her first exposure to poverty, the trip lit a fierce desire to find a way to help people in need.
The results of this mission manifested in 2008 when Justine co-founded Thankyou, a social enterprise that gives 100% of profits from its quality water, food, body care and baby products to help end poverty.
Now, Thankyou has funded water, sanitation, food aid and child and maternal health programs for over 755,338 people in 20 countries.
This is attributed to Justine’s leadership, innovation and determination to engage Australia’s retailers and consumers to choose a world without poverty. Now stocked in Coles and Woolworths alongside the world’s biggest brands, Thankyou products have attracted a cult following.
As college principal at Mount Waverley Secondary College (MWSC), Karen Wade oversees over 2000 students and staff across two campuses. MWSC is one of the largest schools in Victoria, yet its identity is shaped by Karen’s vision of diversity in culture and opportunity for students and teachers alike.
One of Karen’s key career achievements has been her involvement in the development of a program with Letsibogo Girls’ High School in the South African township of Soweto. Each year, two girls are sponsored for one year’s education in Australia. Karen introduced the program to MWSC after developing it in her previous schools, and she is currently hosting one of the international students at her family home.
There are currently more than 46.8 million people living with dementia worldwide. Without any significant breakthroughs in treatment, that figure is predicted to rise to 131.5 million by 2050.
In her role as head of the cognitive therapeutics research program at the Monash Alfred Psychiatry Research Centre, Associate Professor Kate Hoy is leading the charge in tackling such cognitive disorders.
In addition to her current exploration of effective treatments for dementia, Kate’s role also sees her mentor the future research workforce. She is especially focused on helping female scientists to break into senior positions within male-dominated research fields, in a bid to reverse the low proportion of female senior level academics nationally.
Katy Barfield is passionate about the sustainable food industry. Yume, launched in 2014, is an online marketplace that connects food suppliers, such as manufacturers and distributors, with commercial buyers (including restaurants and hotels) to prevent surplus food from going to landfill, by offering significant discounts on food that would otherwise be wasted.
Katy’s position as founder and CEO of Yume follows roles at SecondBite and Spade & Barrow. Her lifelong commitment to food rescue has seen millions of kilograms of surplus food saved from wastage under her watch.
As a leader in business and food rescue alike, Katy has worked to secure likeminded investors who are focused not only on financial returns but also environmental and social benefits.
Kellee Ireland is no stranger to hard work. She was already employed full-time in the spatial industries and raising three children when she added part-time study to her load. She was then promoted to the role of Executive Director of the Spatial Industries Business Association (SIBA) and after 9 years has recently taken up the challenge at Spookfish, a cutting edge spatial industries tech start-up.
Kellee works with some of Australia’s finest thinkers in geospatial information systems – the technology that uses data to show where, why and how things happen. This technology is now available to consumers via their smartphones.
Having state and federal governments regularly engage with SIBA events to shape policy around digital transformation and data, Kellee has been a crucial bridge between the various stakeholders in this growing industry.
As an advocate for women in business and leadership, Kellee was appointed to the Board of Victorian Women for ICT.
After 13 years as an aerospace engineer in the Canadian Air Force, Kristen Raby joined professional services firm Nova Systems in 2006. Delivering complex technologies to solve real-world problems in challenging environments, Kristen leads teams to build resilient systems in the fields of aerospace, surveillance, communications, information, integrated solutions and future systems.
Since taking on the role of Victorian Operations Manager in 2012, Kristen has successfully grown the business from four to more than 40 consultants, representing over 10% of the Nova Group’s Australian presence.
Passionate about the enduring impact of technology, Kristen uses her own technical proficiency and leadership position to develop exciting career prospects for STEM professionals.
Linda Monique is the founder and CEO of Almo Milk and one of 75,000 Australians suffering from Colitis and Crohn’s Disease.
Linda’s own struggle with severe digestive issues inspired her to develop Almo Milk – an Australian-sourced almond milk which, unlike others on the market, is entirely free from questionable additives, sugars and starches.
Testament to Linda’s continual hustling and the product’s national relevance, in less than a year since its launch, Almo Milk has secured distribution contracts across three countries. The brand continues to grow nationally and overseas in over 400 outlets.
Lisa Du has built a successful business around educating older people about technology, but the seed of her idea came from within her own family. Lisa grew up translating English for her Chinese/Vietnamese father, and when she introduced him to Google Translate, his life changed for the better.
After rising quickly through the ranks of a leading technology company, Lisa launched her own project, ReadyTechGo. Along with a team of 20 trainers across Melbourne, she offers face-to-face education for people whose everyday lives can be improved by learning the value of technology and accessing essential digital services.
As technology continues to evolve, Lisa has advanced her business by establishing relationships with referrers, and she will soon introduce an online learning platform.
Passionate about social justice, Marianne Hubbard has spent more than two decades working with homeless youth, victims of crime, the elderly and the long-term unemployed, across the palliative care, mental health and disability sectors.
She is currently CEO of Pinarc Disability Support, a not-for-profit committed to making a positive difference in the lives of people with disability by providing opportunities to maximise their potential.
During her nine-year tenure, Marianne’s impact has been profound. From turning around the culture of an organisation that was burdened by internal conflict, to purchasing the company’s first permanent properties, she has built a values-driven, profitable business, which delivers quality services and exemplary customer service.
With a PhD in biochemistry and trained in molecular medicine, Dr Melanie Thomson was well placed to answer the government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda call. She joined MTPConnect in 2016 to help develop skills across the medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries (MTP).
As the leader of MTPConnect’s education, skills and events portfolio, Melanie vigorously tackles the industry’s barriers to success by addressing education and skills gaps, which restrict the growth of Australia’s health sectors within the global market.
Inspiring others to consider different perspectives and positions, she acts as a voice for change and advocates for bold ideas capable of driving sector-wide collaboration.
After 25 years in leadership roles within the biopharmaceutical and medical research sector, Michelle Gallaher decided to leave her comfort zone for a more uncertain path in start-ups.
Her first venture, The Social Science, focuses on digital content creation for clients within the STEMM innovation industries. Her second is Women in STEMM Australia. This organisation looks to reduce the industries’ barriers to entry for women and close the gender pay gap. The third business is a dermatology-focussed biotech start up with near-term clinical skincare products launching this year.
Michelle’s businesses are powered by her belief that Australia cannot reach its full innovation potential if a significant proportion of the STEMM-qualified workforce opts out mid-career or, even worse, fails to enter into it at all.
When Natasha Norton arrived at Accuteque in 2010, she discovered a business model that was destined to be redundant within a few years. Accuteque started as a software testing business, but Natasha laid out the road map to where it is today: a professional services company that has exceeded its growth targets for the past three years running, coinciding with her tenure as CEO.
Instigating significant change is not always easy, but Natasha maintains a confident and honest management style to ensure success. She values Accuteque’s ability to service its client base of mid-tier businesses rather than just the top end, but she remains focused on the future, having partnered with a leading augmented and virtual reality firm to improve her company’s offering.
After reading shocking statistics on violence against women in Australia, Penelope O’Sullivan decided to apply her skills in event consultancy to bring about social change. Her business, Exponential Events, runs the Ultimate Weekend Women’s Expo, a showcase of up to 115 small and medium businesses, offering seminars and classes to the general public.
The expo travels around Australia, with 100 percent of profits donated to local domestic violence charities and shelters. Penelope now manages seven volunteers and employees, but she also takes a hands-on approach to the events.
Melbourne business woman Ruth Mackay has been a pioneer of effectively employing technology in the workplace for more than 30 years. She recently published her first book, ‘The 21st Century Workforce’, to help businesses plan and manage their employees virtually.
In a country as vast as Australia, a virtual workforce is an asset to any business, especially to a small to medium sized business. Ruth has proven as much in her role as founder and managing director of OURTEL Solutions, which provides fundraising services to a number of Australia’s major charities.
Ruth finds the virtual work model makes her hands-on management style more effective, as she speaks one-on-one with agents and clients on a daily basis, and is able to employ staff from diverse ages, locations and cultures.
Sarah Holloway’s career in law was advancing rapidly when she reached a fork in the road: her superfood business, Matcha Maiden, needed her full-time attention to achieve its next goals.
That was the moment Sarah became a ‘funtrepreneur’, successfully turning her hobby into a career of its own. Having given up coffee for health reasons, Sarah had discovered matcha, an ancient type of powdered green tea leaves, and recognised its potential in the booming health food market.
While Sarah and her partner Nic leveraged social media to create global demand for their product range, they recognised the need to diversify in the face of growing competition. Today, they also manage Matcha Mylkbar, a physical venue for superfood and vegan eating.
When Shan Morrison was 16, her mother returned to work as a physiotherapist, and Shan noticed how it improved her sense of self. This inspired Shan to enter physiotherapy herself, and twelve years later, she became a partner in Women’s & Men’s Health Physiotherapy.
Now the sole owner and director of WMHP, Shan oversees its delivery of specialised pelvic health and pelvic floor physiotherapy across seven locations. WMHP helps patients regain control of their bladder, bowel and sexual function after pregnancy, prostate surgery and other pelvic problems.
Few people know of the role physiotherapy can play in treating pelvic health conditions, so a large part of Shan’s role is building and maintaining relationships with her network of 600 referrers.
As the executive director of strategic projects at the University of Tasmania, Amanda Castray plays an essential role in shaping the commercial strategy of the institution to support the delivery of education to over 35,000 students each year.
Amanda’s career has spanned the public and private sectors; developing policy, delivering programs, and leading projects across the energy, services, and higher-education sectors.
Amanda leads a team of 10 working on projects and initiatives valued at more than $100 million for the university. Earlier this year, Amanda’s work in preparing the business case for the University’s $400 million STEM precinct in Hobart was approved by Infrastructure Australia, making it the first endorsement of an educational project nationally.
Twenty years ago, Alison Flakemore entered the garden and landscape industry with an old van, a lawnmower and basic hand tools. Today, the services offered by Alison’s Garden & Landscape include gutter cleaning, testing and tagging, and contracts with both corporate clients and the Tasmanian Government.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing though. In 2013, Alison faced life-threatening health issues including breast cancer, and her business suffered in her absence. Upon returning to work, Alison oversaw a company restructure and implemented a system for real-time data reporting, rescuing her business from disaster.
Alison’s business has come a long way since being run from the back of a van, and she has recently engaged a marketing team to redesign its social and search engine strategy.
As a director of the Browns supermarket and shopping centre, Amy Reiner works at the forefront of her local community. But after 128 years serving the district, Browns needed to become more than an old-fashioned country store.
That’s why Amy established a new goal for Browns: to be the greenest supermarket in Australia. Following its move to a new $10 million sustainable shopping complex, Amy negotiated a joint venture with Hill Street Grocers, a Tasmania-wide chain. She then oversaw the transition to a new ownership structure.
Amy’s strength is in her ability to assess situations and trends, internally and externally. She is able to identify and secure growth and development opportunities, and conceive solutions leading to cooperation between disparate groups and individuals.
For 11 years, Barbara Walters has been committed to improving the lives of at-risk youth through her work with Whitelion. Whitelion is a not-for-profit organisation that assists disadvantaged young people in building better futures, through mentoring and leadership programs.
Barbara is the second longest-serving staff member in the organisation and for the last two years has been working as the state manager for Tasmania. She’s responsible for 12 staff across three locations within the state.
For a decade, Barbara has led Bail Out, one of Whitelion’s flagship events. The interactive experience is aimed at educating participants about the issues and barriers faced by disadvantaged young people. It creates an atmosphere of complete vulnerability and fear, similar to what a young person would feel when incarcerated.
After a decade-long hiatus from the world of asset management, which saw her take on a role with confectionary giant Cadbury, Camille O’Meara rejoined Stornoway, where she now heads up the Business Services team.
Over the subsequent years, Camille took Stornoway’s safety management system to Australian Standard 4801 – making it the first private Tasmanian company to achieve such a status.
Wanting to retain the company’s strong, values-based culture and give back to the local community, Camille also launched a School to Work program. The scheme provides young Tasmanians living in socio-economically challenged areas with meaningful pathways to employment, through both educational and vocational opportunities.
Dr Catherine Wheatley looks to put humanity into action, by opening people’s consciousness and encouraging people to think more altruistically about others.
As President of charity Water for a Village, she is committed to providing water for people living in the most profound poverty. With the charity’s current focus on the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia, Catherine leads fundraising initiatives to provide self-contained water sources for villages without access to clean and safe drinking water.
In less than three years, Catherine has helped to secure $100,000 in donations, which has provided water sources for 8,000 people. These are lifelines for residents, making invaluable contributions to supporting health and education outcomes and delivering the beginnings of a journey out of poverty.
Bayview Secondary College was a school blighted by cultural stigmatisation, stereotyping and negative community perception. Since Gill Berriman stepped into the principal role five years ago, Bayview has undergone a dramatic transformation.
Gill’s belief in the power of an aspirational culture has enabled her to successfully rally against the college’s isolated position within the local community. Since her appointment, she has successfully sparked a complete shift in how Bayview approached school improvement, human resource management, new and innovative strategic development and team motivation.
Through these efforts, Gill is enabling the college to fulfil its vision of delivering high quality, innovative educational programs, which support lifelong learning for all.
Homeless at 13, Hanna Graham spent her teenage years working to support herself through high school. Eventually, unable to sustain this lifestyle, she moved to Launceston to assist her father, where she worked in a small café which she later purchased.
She then went on to open Tasmania’s first ever paintball business, Revolution Paintball, which was no easy feat. Hanna helped bring about a change in Tasmanian firearms legislation in order to make paintball legal. The Police Minister supported her efforts and, in 2016, Hanna became the only woman in Tasmania to own a paintball business.
Revolution Paintball is all about friends, fun and fitness. It is now Hanna’s aim to make paintball an official sport and she currently runs a fortnightly program to train enthusiasts.
Aged 30, Jan Bingley suffered a back injury which paralysed her leg. This time taught her the importance of looking after your own health and balancing work life with personal life.
As a qualified massage therapist and personal trainer, Jan brought her health and fitness knowledge to her current role as general manager and HR manager for Merseylink, a bus and coach business.
Committed to doing everything she can to improve her staff’s wellbeing and work-life balance, Jan passionately advocates for workplace health programs. She runs nightly staff marathon training sessions, invites guest speakers to deliver wellness advice, has installed a workplace gym and refers staff to the business’s dedicated counsellor for mental health support.
As both a company director and principle dentist, Jessica Manuela looks to counter the epidemic of dental disease currently plaguing Australia, along with the country’s culture of “dental fear”. Her philosophy is centred on improving her patients’ oral health through holistic education and quality care.
Having opened her own dental clinic in 2014, Jessica swiftly followed her debut practice’s success with the launch of a sister clinic just three years later.
Jessica’s entrepreneurial drive has also seen her push the clinic’s capabilities into the realm of progressive dento-facial procedures, offering the likes of botox, thread lifts, dermal fillers and micro-needling.
In a career spanning 35 years, Judy Martin has worked on remote, rural, state, national and international aged care projects.
Currently, she is the industry liaison manager - seniors living for Thomson Adsett, an international architecture practice specialising in aged care and seniors living.
Alongside this, Judy is director of the SAGE International Study Program, which sees her take senior executives from the Australian aged-care industry overseas to look at other countries’ best practice.
Judy is also the founding board director of CommonAge which aims to improve the life of older citizens in Commonwealth countries by closing the links between members of the aged-care sector and fostering high standards of education within it.
Intent on showing customers there is more to floristry than the mass-produced arrangements that currently dominate the market, Kate Sice set up Hobart’s creatively quirky flower shop, Botanical, in 2014.
As the business’s premier stylist, Kate’s forte lies in constructing beautiful arrangements that convey the full spectrum of emotions – from love to grief to gratitude. She also runs regular practical workshops that allow budding florists to encourage their own creativity.
Kate’s relentless drive and energy have helped her to establish a successful start-up in an industry that is inherently challenging for any new business venture and, after just 32 months, Botanical now holds a pre-eminent position in the Hobart market.
During her time with Your Local Motor Group (formerly Launceston Toyota and Audi Centre), Nicole McCullagh has overhauled both the guest experience and business operations.
As the company’s group business coordinator, her key successes include taking customer satisfaction surveys from three stars to five and leading the company to be recognised as a top rural dealership Australia-wide.
Eager to bring customers more brand choice and grow Your Local Motor Group’s market share, Nicole has played a significant role in two successful new business acquisitions over the past 12 months, which have doubled the company’s business portfolio.
As a new mum, Rachel Roberts craved the flexibility that running your own business can bring. She decided to open her beauty salon, Beauty of Arcadia, just a few months after the birth of her daughter.
Rachel wanted her salon to be as ethically conscious as she is, and so treatments are only carried out using natural, vegan and sustainably sourced products. With more people looking for ways to minimise the mark they leave on the environment, Rachel says Beauty of Arcadia is a way for clients to show both themselves and the planet some TLC.
Having started her salon in 2016, Rachel is proud to have achieved a successful first year.
Toni Moate joined the CSIRO in 1991 as a project officer, but her continued part-time studies in commerce saw her develop the skills to become a business leader.
Having ascended through the ranks, Toni is now the director of National Collections and Marine Infrastructure at the CSIRO, overseeing research activities for one of Australia’s largest natural assets: the ocean, which makes up 60 percent of the nation’s territory, though only 12 percent of that has been mapped.
From 2009-2014, Toni led the design, build and commissioning process for Australia’s only blue water research ship, the Investigator. At the time, it was the single biggest contract the CSIRO had signed excluding property, and the vessel is now available for the international marine research community.
For many years, Alyson Garrett juggled being a single mum with her career as an accountant. It was through her journey to find balance between family and a demanding career that Alyson became passionate about mentoring and promoting gender diversity, as both elements had played a role in her own success.
Alyson’s career satisfaction has come about by combining her love of her work with her passion for family. Now working as a director at CMS Private Advisory, Alyson is able to share her experience with others.
CMS is a bespoke accounting, financial and business advisory service whose purpose is to align the culture and values of families with their business and personal goals to build wealth for themselves and future generations.
As a lawyer challenging established boundaries, and a woman extending her horizons, being resilient and determined are two of Andrea Michaels’ key traits.
Her ferocious drive to change law firm culture saw Andrea found legal practice NDA Law, a business born from her years spent dealing with ‘misaligned values’.
Striving to create a better client service experience, NDA Law makes legal services more accessible, affordable and transparent.
Social justice is a passion Andrea pursues in both a personal and professional capacity. Whether it's volunteering to help charities navigate their legal obligations or mentoring other women to greater aspirations, she believes these are positive steps toward a better future for women in particular and society as a whole.
A first-generation migrant from the Philippines, Carmen Garcia’s experience with racism in the professional world inspired her to establish Community Corporate – a specialist diversity and inclusion business that creates work opportunities for the thousands of refugees settling in Australia.
As managing director, Carmen helps not-for-profits grow their operations, and corporates to fulfil their social responsibilities, by creating viable enterprise models with strong social impact solutions.
To date, she has successfully influenced government policy to recognise culturally tailored pre-employment programs, including the rollout of a Woolworths national refugee employment pilot. She delivered Spotless30, an initiative resulting in 30 refugees securing work at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital.
Corrine Fiebiger is on a mission to deliver excellence in the provision of urological health at South Terrace Urology.
Joining the practice as a medical typist in 1997, Corrine quickly moved up to become a key figure in the business as a board member. Her role requires her to manage and direct all departments to ensure the smooth running of the business.
Corrine’s passion and belief in quality healthcare extends throughout the business with her management skills positively affecting staff and patients. The culture of good governance and top-down, bottom-up consultation that Corrine encourages has provided substantial business growth and the implementation of patient care programs and research activities.
Award collected by Sarah Brown on behalf of Elaine.
Elaine Bensted grew up with dreams of becoming a veterinarian. As CEO of Zoos South Australia, she plays an important role in animal conservation not just across Australia but the globe, during a time when species are being wiped out at an alarming rate.
When Elaine commenced her duties with Adelaide and Monarto Zoos in 2012, Zoos SA was in a precarious financial position. Elaine’s implementation of a five-year business plan, and a 20-year master plan, has seen the organisation hit new membership records and increase its visitor numbers past half a million annually.
Zoos SA is a conservation charity, so Elaine’s skills in negotiation and relationship management are essential for its efforts in preserving the animal world.
With a passion for people and performance management, Elly Griffin held several roles in the HR and recruitment sector when she started working for skin clinic SILK Laser Clinics. As the business was just starting out, she initially provided HR consulting services, before being hired as manager of operations and human resources.
Working across all functions of the business, Elly is involved in recommending and implementing solutions for policy development, process improvement, effective leadership and staff retention.
Alongside this, Elly has a particular interest in the internal purpose of the business, which is to make a positive difference to the local community. It provides employment opportunities for locals, uses local suppliers and runs a community program for local charities.
Having undertaken specialist paediatric training in the USA, Joanna Buttfield recognised the desperate need for similar services here in Australia.
Upon her return, she established Kid Sense – a private provider of centre-based paediatric occupational therapy and speech pathology services. The organisation works closely with children who have disabilities, or face developmental challenges, in their movement, speech or learning.
Joanna also uses her own professional expertise to ‘educate the educators’ – the teachers, kindergarten and childcare staff who play such an important role in young children’s most formative years.
With Kid Sense now nearly 20 years old, Joanna has positively impacted the lives and learnings of thousands of children, their families and professionals within the education system.
As Co-Director of the Australian Centre for Child Protection, Leah Bromfield deals with the worst things that can happen to children. This helps her stay focused on the overall goal of her teams’ research: not just to provide research, but to inform real change in policy and practice around child safety.
Leah’s career-long dedication to the field saw her appointed Professorial Fellow to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. This significant role developed a new evidence base to improve knowledge and greater understandings around child sexual abuse across a range of institutions.
Leah’s adoption of adaptive technology enabled her to continue to undertake her important work after suffering sudden vision loss in her only sighted eye in 2015.
Lee Martinez’s lifelong professional journey in rural healthcare commenced with a nursing role at Whyalla Hospital four decades ago. Since then, she has remained dedicated to improving the health of rural populations and advocating for mental health services.
Nursing provided the foundation for a number of Lee’s opportunities, eventually leading to her current role as mental health academic at the University of South Australia’s Department of Rural Health. The department provides remote health workers with learning opportunities, supports health science students on rural placement, and entices more locals to join a health career.
In her role, Lee leads the mental health program, aiming to increase awareness and access to mental health services for rural and remote Australians.
Liz Cohen’s sliding door moment took place in 1987, in the Northern Territory township of Nhulunbuy, when she was teaching a young blind student. On track for a principal’s position, Liz suddenly changed her perspective, realising her passion was in educating and assisting people with disabilities to succeed and achieve.
Realising the full extent of that ambition has seen Liz accept the role of chief executive of Cara, one of South Australia’s largest disability services providers.
Together with more than 940 staff members and 100 volunteers, Liz champions a compelling, values-based vision that looks to empower people with disability by supporting their choice and control over how they live their everyday lives.
Loretta Cavallaro has built a solid reputation during her nine years working in real estate. In 2016, after four years immersed in Melbourne’s off-the-plan market, Loretta returned to her hometown of Adelaide to take the leap into the start-up life.
Loretta’s business venture, VARO Property, focuses on selling off-the-plan properties before they go to market as well as a residential sales and property management arm. Loretta says the purpose of VARO is to assist people on their journey through life, and to help them achieve their goals.
VARO’s motto is “always display honesty and integrity in everything we do”. This is what Loretta stands for and what VARO and each team member, affectionately known as #varocrew, stands for too.
A passionate animal lover and natural-born entrepreneur, Perrine set her sights on running her own Vet practice from a young age. In 2008, she finally realised her long-held ambition, opening Glen Osmond Veterinary Clinic.
Perrine is unconventional in her approach to veterinary science, working closely with clients to develop holistic diagnostic plans. She aims to incorporate traditional treatments with complementary naturopathic medicines. Through this combination of therapies, Perrine is able to successfully manage rare and severe diseases.
Perrine is committed to improving animal health within the local community and at scale. She hopes her professional work, combined with her voluntary conservation efforts, will enable future generations to continue enjoying Australia’s unique wildlife for many years to come.
Rachel Kennedy has always had an eye for business. By the age of nine, she had recruited children from her neighbourhood to deliver newspapers. Years later, after living and working abroad, Rachel helped establish the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science in Adelaide – now the world’s largest centre for research into marketing.
Rachel’s work with the not-for-profit has positioned her as a global leader in evidence-based marketing. Her role as associate director (special projects) means developing tools to implement the institute’s findings in everyday business practice.
However, her clients are anything but ‘everyday’ – the institute’s work is funded by the likes of Unilever, Airbnb and Facebook, and Rachel has received invitations to present at the prestigious Cannes Lions festival.
Tammy Barton started MyBudget in 1999 after witnessing the devastating impact debt can have on people’s lives.
MyBudget has since become one of Australia’s leading financial services companies, designing customised money strategies that support clients’ financial goals, from debt management to savings planning.
Tammy’s unwavering commitment to reducing her clients’ money worries and improving financial literacy in the wider community are the bedrock of the business’ success. In the last five years alone, she has grown MyBudget by more than 400 percent into a company that now has more than 20,000 active clients and turns over $34 million a year.
Tracy Marsh’s first foray into entrepreneurship was at age 18, when she wrote and self-published her first book. The book, Touch of Nostalgia, went on to sell over 200,000 copies and become an Australian best-seller.
This was followed by the launch of Craft & Decorating – Australia’s first and longest running craft magazine – as well as some three million publications since.
With Australia’s youth unemployment rate at 14 percent, Tracy recognised the need for career education subjects in the final years of schooling. So, in 2016 Tracy launched the Work-Ready Program. Tracy believes the Work-Ready Program responds to the demand for a comprehensive program dedicated to preparing students for their future.
Janine Arnold strongly believes that society can be best measured by the way it treats its most vulnerable people. She is a dedicated volunteer in her community and the CEO of Carers Tasmania.
Janine’s personal principle of showing kindness runs through every facet of her life, including her volunteer work. At Carers Tasmania, she is able to help deliver valuable services to the family and friends who act as unpaid carers for loved ones living with disability, mental illness, chronic conditions, alcohol or drug addiction or severe frailty due to age.
In three years as CEO, Janine has encouraged working “smart with heart.” Her focus for the business has included reducing corporate overhead costs, launching Carers Tasmania’s first television commercial, developing corporate partnerships and innovative programs for young carers.
A remedial massage therapist, Amy launched her start-up venture, Aim Remedial Massage in 2015.
Amy Haulman’s clients suffer from diverse and complex ailments, including cancer, Parkinson’s disease, mental health issues, arthritis, joint replacements, and many others.
Through the business, Amy endeavours to support her clients’ health objectives, working closely with other care providers to maximise the benefits of her services.
With many of her clients dealing with life-limiting illness, Amy undertakes research into every individual’s specific condition. This allows her to provide personalised treatment options that deliver precise relief – both physically and emotionally – that the client requires.
Following a ten-year career in economic and business development, Carley Scott left Melbourne to become the inaugural CEO of Developing East Arnhem. The not-for-profit's goal is to promote new economic and business opportunities in the remote community of East Arnhem following a downturn in mining.
Carley oversees a team of up to three office staff and 27 contractors, which means her duties as CEO are especially hands-on, managing the multimillion-dollar funding portfolio.
Despite its modest size, Developing East Arnhem has brought significant benefits to the region. Under Carley’s watch, the company has driven innovative developments, rented over 200 houses to local businesses for their employees, and supported $6 million of investment including $1 million in direct funding into business growth.
Almost 30 years ago, Erica Gibson relocated to the Northern Territory to begin her career with the police. Starting out in Groote Eylandt, where she served a population of under 2,000 people, Erica has worked across the territory and is now Sergeant of Police at Nhulunbuy Police Station in East Arnhem Land.
Policing in remote communities presents unique challenges, and one of Erica’s recent achievements has been her implementation of a family safety framework to combat domestic violence.
Erica chairs fortnightly meetings with stakeholders including the Department of Health, Miwatj Health and Centrelink, sharing information between agencies to speed up the process of victim protection. As resources are limited, this system has been crucial in reducing instances of domestic violence in the region.
As a child, Fathma Mauger enjoyed school and admired her teachers. She felt that they made a difference in the lives of their students. This spurred Fathma on to become a teacher herself, and she has now spent the past 32 years working in the Northern Territory education system.
As principal of Larrakeyah Primary School, a high-performing independent public school in Darwin, Fathma focuses on high standards of achievement.
The school’s mission is centred on providing a positive and supportive learning environment that encourages students to strive for academic success. Fathma says her staff aim to instil a desire for lifelong learning, and to promote leadership and responsible citizenship.
Dr Isabelle Skinner is the managing director of health technology and research company Decision Support Analytics (DSA).
DSA carries out health and social services related research to support organisations and individuals, maintaining an evidence-based decision-making model. Chronic disease management, ethical health promotion and bushfire prevention are just some of the subjects in Isabelle’s remit.
On top of this, Isabelle and her team are also behind the innovative health app emojifit Diabetes. Designed to help people living with Type 2 diabetes to successfully manage the lifestyle demands of their disease, the app and its widespread adoption, says Isabelle, felt like cracking the enigma code for health.
Judy Spafford has always been resourceful. When she and her husband PJ Spafford left their home country of Zimbabwe for a new life in the UK in 1990, they had one trunk and £200 to their names.
Many jobs and years later, Judy and PJ – a GP – moved to Australia where they co-founded a general practice, Gorge Health Services.
While PJ looks after the clinical side, Judy is the practice manager, handling administrative tasks and overseeing the provision of healthcare to a large, remote area.
Judy is closely involved in growing the business. What started as a solo practice has expanded and grown into a multi-GP practice with dedicated nurses and onsite pathology, as well as the ability to train students and medical registrars.
Born into a financially challenged family, Karinda Gill set about educating herself from a young age with the goal of achieving financial freedom. Now with a $50 million empire to her name, it seems her younger self did a stellar job.
As director of four companies, shareholder of two others and the business manager for one more, Karinda is a serial entrepreneur.
Her primary business, Abode New Homes, is a residential construction company focused on helping first home buyers succeed within the property market. By supporting clients in every aspect of creating their dream home, from obtaining finance through to selecting the finishes, Karinda believes everyone should be able to live in a beautiful home that doesn’t cost a fortune.
Five years ago, a serious back injury left Karlene Dagg bedridden, unable to exercise and faced with the prospect of major surgery – a situation made all the more difficult by her passion for fitness and her profession as a personal trainer.
Having come across a holistic lifestyle coaching program that enabled her to overcome these seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Karlene used the learnings from her experience to create HK Holistic Health Klub with her husband.
Like its owners, HK Holistic Health Klub runs on the motivation to help clients become the best version of themselves, with Karlene creating tailored programs designed to support everything from weight loss and injury recovery to elite athletes.
By channelling her entrepreneurial energy into an industry she loves, Katy Sullivan has succeeded in building a business that continues to grow in profitability.
Katy founded Advanced Body Image & Spa Lotus Day Spa when she was just 17, in a bid to bring the latest technological skin and cosmetic treatments to the Northern Territory.
An early adopter of industry-first techniques, she is an expert in the niche and the personally sensitive. Her areas of speciality include paramedical tattooing, tattoo removal, vein and capillary treatments, and FemTouch vaginal laser rejuvenation.
Eager to use her skills to help her clients rebuild self-confidence, Katy offers free-of-charge cosmetic tattooing to women who have undergone a mastectomy, along with other special cases.
Not long after relocating to the Northern Territory, Kerrylee Pike met her partner Luke Myall. Nine years later, this dynamic duo runs HiQA Geotechnical, a quality control business to the civil, construction and mining industries.
The business has now grown to 40 employees and three modern laboratories, with Kerrylee overseeing day-to-day activities as director of administration.
Taking on all administrative aspects of the business such as performance reviews and payroll, Kerrylee’s work represents the background cogs of the business, quietly functioning to ensure the mission and vision of HiQA Geotechnical are achieved smoothly.
Before Kym Cairns set up Cairns Industries, the local residents of Borroloola would often have to engage tradespeople located more than 1,000 kilometres away. But the launch of Cairns Industries in 2006 has brought highly sought-after building and construction services to one of most remote parts of the NT.
Offering building repairs and maintenance, concrete supply, machinery hire, hydraulic hose repair and trade services, Cairns Industries is proving regional businesses can deliver the same quality work customers expect from city-based operations.
To give back to the community that has supported her and her business for the past 11 years, Kym provides employment and training opportunities for local Indigenous residents and is also a corporate sponsor for many events and sporting teams in the region.
For close to ten years, Nicole Walsh has undertaken the role of marketing manager of Yeperenye, a proudly Aboriginal-owned shopping centre and property investor in Alice Springs.
Nicole’s role entails a lot more than just marketing. She also manages the sponsorship budget and runs the centre security, as well as the general direction of the business, dealing with small and big issues that arise on a day-to-day basis.
Nicole maintains the centre’s commitment to the Indigenous community of Central Australia through employment opportunities, sponsorship programs, charity donations and community involvement.
Her hard work has resulted in Yeperenye being rated in the top 20 shopping centres across Australia in their category for turn over per square metre.
With an impressive background in agricultural and pastoral property, Susan Brosnan founded Tanami Rural Property in 2014 to service the needs of clients in the most remote areas of the Northern Territory and Kimberley region of Western Australia.
Susan advises clients on the sale and purchase of large land aggregations. Everything from land and livestock, to infrastructure and plant equipment, is sold on a walk-in, walk-out basis, calling for a specialised, knowledgeable and personalised service.
In delivering this service to her clients, Susan hopes to not only stimulate further investment into the region’s property industry, but also to encourage the development of other services, including healthcare, education and infrastructure.
Dr Anh Nguyen is creating a new narrative for women in medicine. In opening Dr Anh’s Plastic Surgeon Medispa & Wellness Clinic, Anh’s aim was to offer a one-stop shop for all things beauty and wellness.
Anh’s vision to create a private, luxurious oasis where both men and women can access high-quality, safe, medical-grade treatments (non-surgical and surgical) has delivered excellent results.
A determination to shift the perception that plastic surgery is about vanity has seen Anh bring about a service where patients are empowered to be their best selves. Using her eight years of experience as a specialist in plastic, reconstructive and cosmetic surgery, and 16 years as a doctor, she has transformed the lives of innumerable clients.
Anna Dartnell’s career has come full circle since she started in the WA mining sector as a university graduate. After commencing her career in industrial relations and later transitioning into operational leadership roles in the automotive and manufacturing sectors, Anna became a management consultant. In 2016, she returned to the mining industry as the first female operational group manager with resources logistics specialists, Bis.
The Bis appointment was a watershed moment for Anna. Having experienced strong success as a consultant, she consciously stepped away to pursue her love of operations. The decision created the opportunity she was looking for and today she leads the Bis innovation, growth and customer engagement strategies, bringing together a lifetime of learnings from her non-traditional career path.
Asha Bhat is passionate about empowering and building the capacity of the Noongar people, an Aboriginal community in the southern and south-west regions of Western Australia.
In her role as CEO of the Southern Aboriginal Corporation (SAC), Asha represents the interests of over 3,900 Noongar people and is a vehement advocate for strong, transparent and fair leadership. With the persecution of minority groups rife in the current world climate, Asha believes the world needs leaders who authentically work hard and have faith in humanity.
As a result, Asha is committed to providing services and programs linked to issues such as Indigenous training and employment, family violence, health and housing, to create positive change for the Noongar community.
After studying music at Oxford University and the Royal College of Music, Bourby Webster moved to Australia in 2000 to start a new life. Stepping into the business side of the music industry, Bourby founded the Perth Symphony Orchestra (PSO) in 2011 as its inaugural CEO.
PSO breaks the rules of classical music and is committed to bringing people together through music. By creating a successful major arts organisation with no government funding, Bourby has become a model entrepreneur for the WA arts sector as a whole. The company’s independence allows PSO to produce adventurous shows like Steampunk Mozart and UNPLUGGED: Nirvana Reimagined. Bourby aims to have reached 250,000 Western Australians across the State by 2020.
It was while working as a massage therapist that Caroline developed chronic eczema on her hands – a condition that inadvertently led her to creating her own remedy and launching what has become one of Australia’s leading therapeutic skincare ranges.
14 years on, Caroline now contracts 3 Australian Manufacturers and her products are distributed to 5000+ Pharmacies throughout Australia. Caroline’s Skincare is also exported to China, and has recently secured ranging with 465 Priceline stores nationally.
Caroline’s hero product, Caroline’s Cream, renders its users often surprising results, helping with the symptomatic relief for skin conditions such as; eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis and acne prone skin, with recent trials yielding a 92% success rate further proving its efficacy.
Charlotte Mills graduated from university with an arts degree, but a chance meeting gave her a start in politics. After three years working for federal ministers, Charlotte entered the racing industry, pursuing roles in administration and public relations.
Most recently, Charlotte became general manager of racing at Racing and Wagering Western Australia, overseeing 52 race clubs across the state. With her background in communications, Charlotte has led the instigation of a change in the company’s approach to PR, media, marketing and branding beyond its previous model of crisis management.
Charlotte has also worked to promote racing as one of few sports where women and men compete together, encouraging people to participate in the industry regardless of their gender.
When Deanne Watts left high school to undertake a floristry traineeship and become a business owner at just 17, she knew little about petrochemicals. But when her husband’s engineering business, GE Group Australia, continued to grow, she sold her successful flower shop to focus her energy on learning about a new industry.
Now, as general manager, Deanne manages the running, growth and development of operations at GE Group. The business aims to be the preferred provider of high-quality engineering and petrochemical services to leaders in the mining, oil and gas industries.
Under Deanne’s supervision, the business has expanded in 12 years from a small fabrication and machining shop to providing services to some of the world’s biggest companies.
Derry is the architect behind some of Australia’s most famous brands. Working as a brand and insights strategist for companies such as Diageo and Foster’s Group, Derry developed a passion for understanding and shaping human behaviour.
Returning to her hometown of Perth in 2007 after stints in Sydney and Melbourne, Derry joined WA’s most effective communications agency, 303 MullenLowe Group, in 2009.
Now as group managing director of 303, Derry is responsible for the success of the work the agency delivers whilst also running and growing the business itself.
By bringing together interesting people and disciplines to solve big brand problems and influence behaviour, Derry and her team have successfully persuaded Western Australians to save water, and created the most effective anti-speeding campaign in Australia.
After studying a Bachelor of Engineering and Commerce, Dhakshi followed the example set by her father, a mining engineer, to pursue a career in mining management. Currently she works as a production supervisor at BHP.
BHP is among the world’s top producers of natural resources, including iron ore, coal and copper. A large part of Dhakshi’s role involves coaching her team members to improve their knowledge on procedures and to align with BHP’s charter values, as well as creating development plans to diversify their skill sets.
According to Dhakshi, supervising is not just providing direction for her team members’ daily duties and keeping employees safe. It also requires a high level of interpersonal skills to enable counselling, active listening, problem solving and mentoring – areas which Dhakshi prides herself on.
Gemma Tognini is a columnist for the West Australian, a contributor for Sky News Australia and a broadcaster for the ABC. But, first and foremost, she is the founder and managing director of gtmedia.
A strategic communications company, gtmedia helps clients to build, grow and protect their reputation – a business-critical component for all organisations in the era of the 24/7 news cycle and ‘fake news’.
Looking to create a new norm in media’s male-dominated circles, Gemma is the voice of issues affecting women. When looking to restructure her business, her strategic plan was built on identifying and harnessing a marginalised workforce of women who were missing out on meaningful roles within the corporate arena. A plan which has manifested outstanding results – both financially and culturally.
As the youngest licensed pyrotechnician in Western Australia, Hannah Mills is a girl on fire.
She had her first pyrotechnics experience aged just 14, working as an apprentice on weekends. Months after graduating from high school, she became the lead pyrotechnician and manager of WestCoast Fireworks.
The business performs firework displays to help clients celebrate important occasions with a bang, such as Chinese New Year, where firecrackers are used to scare away evil spirits.
Performing a job that involves serious risks, Hannah remains safety-conscious and adaptable to rapidly changing surroundings. Her strong experience and knowledge has enabled her to earn the trust of her customers.
Jahna Cedar is not only the first female executive officer of Gumala Aboriginal Corporation, she is also the first traditional owner of the land to take on the role.
The corporation manages the General Gumala Foundation (GGF), a charitable trust that redistributes land compensation monies from Rio Tinto’s Yandicoogina iron ore mine back to traditional owners among the Innawonga, Banyjima and Nyiyaparli people.
As a First Nations descendent of the Nyiyaparli people herself, Jahna is personally committed to the sustainability and longevity of the business to provide for future generations. Guiding the GGF through a turbulent economic period, Jahna acts as an agent of change to drive the organisation’s socially orientated objectives.
Jennifer Franceschi has been in the avocado industry since her first summer job in 1974, working in her family’s commercial orchard.
After opening her own orchard in Pemberton, getting involved within the state association and the industry board for avocado growers, Jennifer and her husband launched their own packing facility – Advance Packing and Marketing Services – alongside two other growers.
In 2016, they launched the Fresh Produce Alliance, a processing facility that champions a sustainable agriculture ecosystem. Using innovative technology, such as high-pressure processing and individual quick freeze, it produces “naturally healthy, delicious, real food that people love”.
Jennifer and her team have developed an avocado range, a baby food range, and will soon bring a low-GI range to market.
Inspired by Perth’s endless summer, Jessica Williamson created Ete Swimwear, a brand of feminine swimwear for women who want to feel pretty, confident and comfortable. Ete is all about empowering and supporting women to become the best version of themselves.
Jessica’s background in digital marketing and business, and her interest in the fashion industry, were the perfect combination to launch the e-commerce business. With a strong social media following, her fast-growing online community has enabled Jessica’s brand to go global.
With no prior experience in fashion design, Jessica creates all the swimwear designs herself, sources fabrics and gets them manufactured. Within a week of launching Ete Swimwear, she was invited to showcase her collection at the 2016 New York Fashion Week.
Finance can be daunting and overwhelming for some, but after 24 years in the financial sector, it comes naturally to Julia Schortinghuis.
As director, practice principal and financial adviser at Lighthouse Capital, Julia is an adviser to nearly 100 clients. More like a financial coach, Julia focuses on helping her clients with complex financial needs such as estate planning, personal insurance and inter-generational wealth.
Julia believes her clients’ needs are central to every decision and action taken by herself and the team at Lighthouse Capital. Julia is committed to raising the standard in terms of quality of advice and client experience for individuals seeking financial assistance.
While studying 3D animation and multimedia design, Katherine Roberts had always vied for something more. She identified a shift in people wanting to know more about their food and eat in a more mindful and socially conscious way.
This led Katherine to launch This Little Pig Went to Market with her sister, Jessica. A small food business, This Little Pig delivers gourmet boxes of fresh, local and free-range ingredients to people’s doors where they can themselves cook a wholesome meal. Although Katherine had nothing to do with the food industry before, her overriding passion helped drive her business to become a successful, flourishing one.
Katherine set up her business with a focus on deliciousness and customer service, ensuring This Little Pig is always providing seasonal, fresh, locally supported food.
As CEO for Kalgoorlie-Boulder Urban Landcare Group (KBULG) and an ambassador for WA Parks, Kim Eckert is a committed conservationist.
KBULG is the Goldfields’ oldest, largest and most active community environmental group. In her four-year reign as CEO, Kim has established and intensified numerous collaborations and sponsorship programs. Additionally, she has been involved in consultations for significant new development projects in the local community.
Kim’s most recent initiative saw her successfully petition for and receive significant funding to establish an Eco & Cultural Education Centre – a space and knowledge-sharing hub for sustainable living ideas. Her efforts have significantly expanded KBULG’s scope of work to raise the organisation’s relevance in the local area and create new learning and employment opportunities for its residents.
Born and raised in Mumbai, Maitri Patel had loved dancing since the age of three. Whilst studying business and marketing in Queensland, she began teaching dance classes on the side. Moving to Perth in 2011, Maitri established what is now Western Australia’s biggest Bollywood dance school and performance company.
For Maitri, her personal weight loss journey fuelled the creation of Bolly Active Fitness. The functional training method incorporates cardio, toning, yoga and breathing techniques. Now certified by two major international fitness bodies, Bolly Active Fitness has expanded into Norway, Finland and France.
As the world obesity crisis continues to grow and stress levels are at a record high, Maitri’s vision is to bring balance back into her clients’ lives. The positive feedback she has received from students fuels her desire to continue to grow and reach out to more people.
As Assistant Commissioner of State Crime for the WA Police, Michelle Fyfe’s beat covers 2.5 million square kilometres and 157 police stations – the largest single police jurisdiction in the world.
Graduating from the WA Police Academy in 1984, Michelle became one of the state’s few female detectives in 1988, and in 2002 was the first female officer appointed to the Major Incident Group. Her aim is to bring perpetrators of serious crime before the criminal justice system to keep the community safe from harm. She plays a nationally important role in policing methamphetamine, and deals with some of the community’s most serious crimes of homicide, sexual assault and child abuse.
Michelle is proud of her position as a role model to women and other minorities in the police force. She favours diversity of thought and open communication in the workplace.
Peta Slocombe grew up with a quadriplegic father who taught her that the only thing that matters in life is the good you choose to do with it. This serves as Peta’s everyday inspiration. She is all about kick-starting conversations that initiate change, particularly when it comes to Australia’s mental health.
So, using more than 20 years’ experience as a psychologist, Peta developed Australia’s Biggest Mental Health Check-in (ABMHC). ABMHC is an online screening program that looks to help users identify mental health issues, generating tailored action points to help individuals manage their mental health effectively.
Over 4,000 people across Australia joined the Check-in, 39 percent of whom were currently experiencing symptoms of depression and/or anxiety.
The initiative has been so successful that Peta, along with some endorsement from global figures such as athlete Michael Phelps, will be launching ABMHC globally in the months to come.
Rhonda Hardy always held ambitions to become a CEO. After the birth of her first child she returned to work as a bookkeeper, eventually rising to hold a series of senior management roles.
In July 2013, Rhonda achieved a career goal when she was appointed CEO of the City of Kalamunda, a local government area in the Perth Hills. In July 2014, Rhonda was instrumental in leading the community campaign against local government reform resulting in the reversal of a merger with City of Belmont.
Rhonda and her team have delivered a renewal plan for community centres, recreation facilities, parks and playgrounds. Her next major project seeks to develop an innovative 21st century “smart’ suburb around the train station in Forrestfield North.
Like many fellow female entrepreneurs, Sheree Rubinstein found the decision to leave a stable and financially secure job, with a top tier law firm, extremely difficult. However, Sheree had a clear goal in mind, co-founding One Roof to provide the professional support and inspiration that women in business need to thrive.
One Roof runs co-working spaces for women, serving as a one-stop hub for coaching, mentoring, financial advice and more. Sheree curates and facilitates One Roof’s programs, driven by her ambition to close the gender gap in entrepreneurship. Last year, she travelled to Johannesburg as a volunteer facilitator for YHER, an accelerator program for female founders who run social enterprises supporting women in their communities.
As the Head of English in the Canadian pre-university programme at Taylor’s College, Anne Tham was baffled by the fact that, despite 11 years of learning English, her students arrived at the college lacking vital communication and critical thinking skills.
Anne’s solution was to launch English classes in her own home – classes that, in the 22 years since their original inception, have flourished into ACE Ed-Venture Group’s multiple learning centres and two international schools, both listed under Cambridge Strategies’ Innovation 800 as “Best Practice Pioneers”, and one holding the title of Malaysia’s first entrepreneurial school.
Using her profound understanding of the learning tactics and environments in which young people thrive, Anne has created an education system that develops confident, creative, innovative, entrepreneurial and future-ready students to carve out their niche in the world.
Fern Ngai is CEO of Community Business, a not-for profit organisation dedicated to advancing responsible and inclusive business practices in Asia. Fern leads the organisation’s efforts including conducting pioneering research, facilitating corporate networks and driving impactful campaigns, in a co-ordinated effort to mobilise the business sector to have a positive impact on people and communities.
Under Fern’s leadership, Community Business has expanded its offerings, established a subsidiary in India, and launched the LGBT+ Workplace Inclusion Index; the first benchmark for LGBT+ workplace inclusion in Asia.
Fern joined the not-for-profit sector after 34 years in corporate roles, including eight in executive positions. She spent most of her career in IT-related roles, starting out as a software engineer.
In addition to running Community Business, Fern is a board director of KELY Support Group and a Steering Committee member of the 30% Club Hong Kong.
Gayathri Vasudevan, with a doctorate in Development Studies and more than 23 years of consistent work, has been a consultant for organisations such as UNICEF, United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and Work Bank on development initiatives for the underprivileged.
She was an associate with International Labour Organisation (ILO) before co-founding LabourNet in 2006 with a vision to enable livelihoods and enhance quality of life.
Gayathri has held several advisory posts in the Government and currently, is member of Recognition of Prior Learning Projects, Directorate General Training, Ministry of Labour & Employment; Confederation of Indian Industries, National Skills Committee & National Sports Committee.
She has more than 30 publications in the areas of labour & employment and gender issues to her credit. Gayathri was honoured with Social Entrepreneur of the Year award conferred at the India International CSR Conclave (IICSR) 2017.
Geeta Dharmarajan comes from a family of bold women – her social activist grandmother and compassionate parents were the ones who kindled Geeta’s interest in grassroots education.
Over the past three decades, Geeta has channelled her own love of learning by bringing India’s 2,000-year-old storytelling, theatre, dance and music traditions, into her non-profit organisation Katha, an education model which helps get children living in poverty into reading and quality education.
A champion of relevant and creative learning, Geeta has fundamentally changed India’s education landscape. In establishing schools, reading initiatives and academic research projects, she has empowered teachers, students and communities throughout the country to see learning as an escape route to a better life. She believes that schooling must bring children to understand and appreciate India’s pluralism and diversity; care for earth, gender issues and equality for all, hence creating a kinder world.
Michele Lai believes that kids are our future and every child should be given an opportunity. After having two of her own, Michele Lai decided to move away from her successful career in marketing and focus on helping the children of Hong Kong make an impact on their community.
In 2008, she set up Kids4Kids, a not-for-profit organisation that helps young people develop a sense of social responsibility by enabling them to volunteer for a range of causes.
Over the years, Michele has taken on a number of roles within the business. But her biggest achievement lies in shifting its reliance from individual donors, to a number of multi-year grants and corporate sponsorships.
Mars was the company that launched Nicole McMillan’s career – one that has seen her work for some of the world’s biggest food and drinks brands, including Pepsico, Arnotts and Fosters.
And now she’s come full circle – back under the Mars umbrella as the Vice President of Marketing AMEA (Asia, Middle East and Africa) at Mars Wrigley Confectionery. Nicole heads up a 90-strong team across the company’s key brands including Snickers, M&M’s, Twix, Extra and Skittles.
Since her appointment, Nicole has used her nurturing and supportive leadership style to overhaul the team’s siloed operating structure and instil a sense of ownership in employees to arm them with the talent and confidence to grow. The result has been a 20% boost to employee engagement levels and a reputation that sees Nicole attract the best talent in Mars globally.
Having studied business at a small regional university in Queensland, Saskia Groen-in't-Woud seized every possible opportunity to develop a global career. Having worked her way up from being a small business owner, she is now Asia COO for international logistics provider Damco.
Saskia brings disciplined attention to driving bottom line performance, from the way the business interprets customer requirements, to how it procures and manages the efficient execution of its services. Her appointment has supported the company’s financial turnaround, from a $300m loss in 2014 to turning a profit from 2016 onwards.
Allison Yeoland was playing hockey for Australia while simultaneously completing her Bachelor of Commerce in Newcastle. After graduating, Allison took the opportunity to play hockey in Europe while advancing her career and seeing the world. She sat her CPA exams upon her return to Australia.
In 2003, she joined Secure Parking, then a small family business valued at approximately $5 million. This year, the business was sold to a publicly listed Japanese company for more than $150 million.
As Chief Financial Officer for Secure Parking, Allison played a crucial role in this growth and more recently in the sale. She facilitated the due-diligence process including preparation of detailed three-year forecasts.
Allison hasn’t forgotten her athletic past. Sport is very much still a part of her life, and she volunteers as the manager for her sons’ teams.
With a father who grew up in public housing, Amy Brown has always had a passion for improving access to opportunity for those who need it most. After three years with the NSW Treasury, she moved to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). A partner setting up her own practice specialising in social infrastructure, Amy had set herself the goal of helping break cycles of disadvantage via access to housing and education.
Amy’s practice aims to solve societal issues by providing safe and stable housing (including crisis, temporary and permanent accommodation for the homeless), improving education and corrective service facilities, and developing better hospitals for all patients – not just those who can afford to pay.
Amy has successfully extolled the economic benefits of social infrastructure within PwC, and is one of the leaders on the organisation’s ‘Cities’ agenda.
Belinda Tumbers’ first introduction to marketing was as an entry-level receptionist at an advertising agency. After working her way up to become an account executive, Belinda was approached by one of her clients, Kellogg, to join its marketing team.
19 years later, after predominantly a career in sales, Belinda is now the managing director of Kellogg in Australia and New Zealand. She took on the role in an acting capacity, becoming the first female to hold the position in the company’s 90-year history down under. Within nine months, Belinda had assumed the position permanently, having been given full responsibility for turning the company’s fortunes around and instigating cultural change.
Belinda is passionate about continuing WK Kellogg’s founding mission of providing accessible nutrition to families in ANZ, as well as helping to support more women in getting to C-suite roles in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry.
Returning from her gap year in 2011, Gen became a team assistant at Colliers International, while simultaneously launching OneShift, an online recruitment model.
After receiving $5 million of investment in 2013 - valuing OneShift at $18-20 million in its first year – she sold the business in December 2016.
Gen is now managing director of Skilld and tamme. Skilld helps hospitality businesses and retail SMEs access great talent in their area, while tamme is an analytics and advertising platform for hyperlocal marketplaces that heavily rely on spending where the marketplace has a deficit in supply or demand.
Gen is passionate about rallying people to get behind a cause or a vision, which led her to co-found LMBDW, (Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine) a Facebook group for women who run their own businesses.
When the stresses of everyday life became too much for Di Westaway, she embraced the great outdoors by attempting to climb Mt Aconcagua – the highest mountain in the southern hemisphere.
Having discovered the transformative potential of active adventures in nature, Di and her company Wild Women On Top launched Coastrek in 2010. An experience that inspires and empowers women while improving health, fitness and happiness while reducing stress, the Coastrek Team Trekking Challenge guides women through a 12-week program, which culminates in a 30km or 60km hike.
A key part of Coastrek’s journey has been the $20 million raised for The Fred Hollows Foundation, over the term of a nine-year partnership with the charity.
When Hana-Lia Krawchuk gave birth to her first child, his reluctance to sleep for longer than 45 minutes at a time quickly took its toll on family life.
Desperate for a solution, Hana-Lia created the patented Love To Dream™ Swaddle UP™, which has helped millions of babies & families around the world get a longer, better night’s sleep.
The extensive range offers an alternative to traditional swaddles, where infants’ arms are secured by their sides. Instead, Hana-Lia’s designs support babies’ natural sleeping positions, allowing infants to self-soothe with their arms freely raised above their head.
Word spread quickly about the incredible products and Love To Dream experienced rapid growth from the word go. Love To DreamTM products are now exported worldwide.
After overcoming her own addiction, Janine Epere is passionate about helping other women discover that an incredible, rewarding life is always possible – no matter how dark and desperate things may have become.
In 2007, she founded Destiny Haven, a residential life-skills program for women with life controlling issues, including drug and alcohol addiction, eating disorders, self-harm, and severe trauma. Of the women admitted, 90 per cent have had prior contact with the mental health system and almost half have attempted suicide.
Through her continual focus on recovery, Janine reiterates that a person’s past need not be a barrier to achieving their dreams. Armed with this mentality and a holistic program of educational, psycho-social, emotional, physical and spiritual services, she empowers women to choose change and realise their true potential.
Having attended school in Australia and Germany, as well as working in the private sector across Eastern Europe, Asia and the Middle East, Karen Borg brings international experience to her role at Jobs for NSW.
As the company’s inaugural CEO, Karen manages $190 million in funding to drive job creation across the state. Karen now also oversees 60 people, reporting directly to the Deputy Premier of NSW.
In 2016, Karen and her team launched a 20-year Jobs for the Future strategy, to future-proof the NSW economy and create one million new jobs. Karen’s experience in public and private industry helps her to deliver this goal, using the levers of both sectors to lead to job creation outcomes.
Kellie Sloane’s work is the result of her own personal mission to build a positive future for her children - one where they are armed with the resources to make good life decisions.
As CEO of Life Education NSW, Kellie heads up a charity that delivers holistic, preventative health education to more than half of the state's school children. Covering everything from nutrition and body awareness to drugs and cyber safety, Kellie leads a team of highly skilled educators in generating positive and long-term social impact.
Most Australians will remember Life Education’s Healthy Harold Vans as having been their first introduction to health and wellbeing. Kellie’s success, and that of the organisation at scale, is measured in human terms; in stronger, smarter, more resilient children who are well-equipped to make better life choices.
For far too long women have had to put up with unattractive, costly disposable hygiene products to cope with periods, incontinence, menopausal flushes and more, says Kristy Chong. And it was about time that changed.
Her brainchild, Modibodi, sees underwear and feminine hygiene reinvented. Designer styles meet superior high-tech protection to put an end to any embarrassing mishaps, while offering an environmentally friendly alternative to disposable hygiene products.
Following its 2014 launch, Kristy grew Modibodi 20-fold in just eight months and, today, has sold more than 85,000 pairs nationwide. She also donates a percentage of profits to Share the Dignity, delivering Modibodi garments into the hands of domestic violence sufferers living in women’s shelters.
Having migrated from Chile with her family at nine years old, Marcella Romero became determined to pursue a career that involved supporting vulnerable people. Having studied occupational therapy, Marcella founded Rehab Management – a business venture that enables her to do just that.
Helping people to regain function and achieve their goals after experiencing disability, illness or injury, Marcella provides return-to-work services, injury management and a range of workplace training programs.
Rehab Management has evolved to include a strategically diversified portfolio across workers’ compensation, Commonwealth services, disability, military, life insurance, compulsory third party insurance and corporate health & wellbeing.
Over the past four years, the business experienced a 40 percent year-on-year growth, making it one of the largest occupational rehabilitation companies in Australia today.
Natalie Chapman’s startup, gemaker, helps Australia’s smartest people take their ideas to the world.
A pro at translating highly technical innovations into marketable products or services, Natalie supports research organisations and innovative companies bring disruptive products and services to global markets.
In addition to accelerating the commercialisation of Australian innovations and growing the next generation of Australian industries, Natalie has also reignited the careers of many under-utilised STEM professionals. Her ambition to turn flexible, remote working into a successful reality has enabled her to create a progressive employment model, which recruits from a vast and varied talent pool.
As a woman in her twenties who had worked in and around politics for almost a decade, Nicole Buskiewicz realised that despite the significant disruption that was happening in other industries, the public policy sector was being left behind.
This was the catalyst for Nicole to establish Advoc8. An online software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform, it allows advocates across the business and not-for-profit communities to work smarter and better engage with government, in order to ultimately become more influential.
As the CEO, founding director and majority shareholder of Advoc8, Nicole leads the company’s day-to-day operations and business strategy. Playing to her strengths and solving business problems, Nicole is empowering organisations with technology so that they can better engage with the political process.
When Penny Spencer left New Zealand for Australia at the age of 18, she was determined to find work in the travel sector. However, without any industry experience, this proved to be a real challenge, with Penny eventually deciding to intern for free at a travel agency.
The hard work eventually paid off, with Penny’s start-up ventures (collectively known as The Spencer Group of Companies) testament to her thirty years of experience in the travel industry.
With travel an essential part of business today, Penny is committed to ensuring an organisation’s most important assets – its people – travel safely, securely and on budget. Penny’s days are spent building high-level relationships with international suppliers, from airlines to tech partners, and helping, wherever possible, to mitigate the modern-day risks associated with sending staff abroad.
Petra Playfair started her career as a social worker specialising in cross-cultural casework, and global migration. After being awarded a prestigious Churchill Fellowship, she became passionate about creating an inclusive and multicultural Australia, setting up PLAYFAIR Visa and Migration Services in 1988.
Every year, Petra and her team of migration agents help thousands of migrants secure humanitarian, private and corporate visas making Playfair one of Australia’s leading migration advisers, both at a policy and client level.
Through her entrepreneurial spirit and ability to predict and adapt to rapid changes in migration policy and law, increasingly underpinned by technology, Petra pursued her mission to humanise, mobilise and globalise people movement, realising her long-held dream to run a global business in this field.
Rachna Gandhi was appointed to the Service NSW start-up team in 2013, with a challenge to revolutionise government services. This proved complex, as previously citizens dealt with multiple agencies through a morass of disconnected systems. Rachna and her colleagues had to coordinate across 400 shopfronts, 8,000 phone numbers and 800 government websites that NSW had at that time.
Despite significant resistance to change, Service NSW has radically transformed the traditional model of government service delivery and delivers valuable benefits to citizens.
Rachna was instrumental in implementing a model and culture that put citizens first, offering a one-stop-shop. As CEO (since 2015), Rachna has transitioned Service NSW from a start-up to a commercial business with 2,300 staff; while maintaining customer DNA.
Service NSW is being emulated by governments globally.
Professor Robin Stonecash swore she’d never be a teacher. Now, after 40 years in the occupation, Robin is director of the Global Executive MBA and Executive Education (GEMBA) at the University of Sydney Business School.
Robin’s goal with the GEMBA is to produce more self-aware leaders and, to achieve this, her coaching does not conclude at the end of the course. She believes lifelong learning must take place beyond the classroom and so she regularly acts as a mentor for graduates.
Robin has made it a priority to educate academics about the importance of communicating research to their audience in an accessible way. She has also sat on the board of TenThousandGirls, a financial literacy program for women.
As someone who always wants to do it all, Sara Kahlau has proven herself to be quite the achiever. Born in Sweden, she moved to Australia in 2010 where she completed a Bachelor of Business before working at Booz&Co (now PwC’s Strategy&). In just two years, Sara was promoted to associate.
In November 2015, at the age of 26, Sara was offered an executive role at icare. icare is one of Australia’s largest insurers, providing world-class services to people, businesses and communities in NSW.
As General Manager Transformation, Sara leads a diverse team of over 30 people who together orchestrate and deliver icare’s ambitious transformation agenda through collaboration, strategic thinking, and innovative ways of working.
Sarah Battenally is a proud member of the Australian Defence Force (ADF), undertaking the role of Leading Seaman Marine Technician for the Royal Australian Navy.
In this demanding role, Sarah provides technical advice regarding assessment and control of marine engineering equipment, while also acting as a trade supervisor in a military operational environment.
In addition to her numerous achievements within the ADF, Sarah has cherished the opportunity to expose young women to the various roles on offer.
Sarah has recently been selected as a mentor with the Navy Work Experience Program to continue to inspire young female students from the NSW region to become leaders in their career and community.
Sarah Hunter’s studies in agricultural science took her from the University of Sydney to Canada and the UK. Now, as commercial director of Virbac Animal Health, Sarah’s international experience has made her more aware than ever of the challenges faced by the Australian livestock community.
While Virbac operates in more than 100 countries, its Australian business – developing treatments to improve the health and productivity of cattle, sheep, pigs, horses, dogs and cats – must operate within strict biosecurity requirements and deal with parasites unique to Australia, such as paralysis ticks.
Such challenges require bold leadership on Sarah’s part and, having spent more than 10 years on Virbac’s executive leadership team, she is an expert in the field.
Following a diverse private sector career in law, banking and fund management, including appointments in the UK, US and Australia, Simone Constant joined the NSW Treasury in 2011. In her six years with the public service, Simone has held four deputy secretary roles and is currently deputy secretary of financial and risk management transformation.
Simone has successfully transferred her commercial expertise into her work with the NSW Treasury. She recently oversaw the State Government’s financial management transformation program, briefing stakeholders including the Premier and Treasurer. Simone’s leadership has been essential for the fiscal health of the state and she is determined to keep delivering on behalf of the citizens of New South Wales.
Suzi Jamil is on a mission to enrich society by producing highly entertaining events which both educate and inspire.
Her business, Think Inc., looks to spark conversation that ignite science and rationale-based debate, with their events designed to specifically engage a younger demographic of Australians.
As director and owner of Think Inc., Suzi manages a team of five, as well as talent selection, all public relations and the marketing strategy.
Approaching challenges head on and maintaining calculated confidence, Suzi is empowering the masses and facilitating scientific change by drawing on inspiration from great global minds.
Violet Roumeliotis has held leadership roles within major not-for-profits for more than 30 years, in a career that has been focused on supporting at-risk communities throughout Australia.
Since 2012, she has been the CEO of Settlement Services International (SSI). A community-based not-for-profit, SSI is intent on giving a voice to vulnerable Australians and raising awareness of the economic value of migration.
Violet has set an ambitious course for SSI’s growth and development, investing heavily in three major social enterprise projects. One of which is The Staples Bag, a retail store and pop-up shop providing affordable groceries to approximately 750 families every week.
In 1970, when Kylie Hargreaves was born, women weren’t allowed to become trade commissioners – a role her father had held for almost 25 years. However, by the time Kylie left university, policy had changed, and Kylie became the youngest trade commissioner to run her own post in Europe.
Recruited out of Austrade to set up NSW’s international offices, Kylie went on to tackle resources and energy. There she led the overhaul of the state’s resources legislation to ensure the highest standards of regulation, compliance and science were applied in NSW.
In her current role as deputy secretary (resources and geoscience) with the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, Kylie ensures the state’s land-use decisions maximise benefits for the people of NSW.
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.