Celebrating Australia's leading business women
A massive congratulations to our Telstra Business Women's Award winners, who have been recognised by our expert judging panel for changing business for the better. We wish them the best of luck as they continue towards their future goals.
“I hope my example inspires females, Indigenous people, those from remote areas, those without financial or educational advantage or simply those who are struggling that anything is possible.”
Adjunct Professor Tracy Westerman founded Indigenous Psychological Services in 1998, to address the significant gaps in treatment and intervention into suicide and mental health in Aboriginal populations.
“Gardens heighten our senses without thought, sight, smell, touch, taste and sound. I have a vision of community improvement through sustainable horticulture."
More than 20 years ago, Alison Flakemore entered the garden and landscape industry with an old van, a lawnmower and basic hand tools. Today, Alison’s Garden and Landscape is an industry leader.
“Through my work, I endeavour to deliver outcomes for industry and the community that enable informed decision making, generate social and economic outcomes and affect positive change.”
As Chief Plant Health Officer, Anne Walters is responsible for the strategic direction of plant biosecurity in the Northern Territory and works nationally to drive reform and improvements to the plant biosecurity system.
“I am passionate about the building industry and want to ensure we are committed to providing a superior service at the best possible price, while having a positive impact on the community.”
Bec Hammet is General Manager of SH Build, a construction business specialising in remote building construction, that she founded with her husband Scott in 2008.
“I’m passionate about educating the young minds of tomorrow and creating an environment that not only promotes great academia but also the values of acceptance, perseverance, respect, faith, grit, service and optimism.”
As Principal of Canberra Christian School, Bree Hills is making a positive impact through education and is influencing and shaping the lives of tomorrow’s leaders.
“I am passionate and driven about achieving outcomes in my current role as it focuses on creating new economic and social value in Northern Tasmania.”
In her role as Executive Director Northern Cities for the Tasmanian Office of the Coordinator-General, Catherine is responsible for managing initiatives that aim to establish Launceston as Australia's leading regional city.
“Law has not traditionally been a space that accommodates women, especially those returning to work after having children. I wanted Her Lawyer to offer women a career in law in a non-traditional way.”
Breaking away from the common models and stereotypes of law, Courtney Bowie built Her Lawyer - a legal practice dedicated to empowering ambitious women in business and providing a space for a team of female lawyers to thrive.
“I started Global Education Academy to make my dream of teaching for understanding come true. Education gave me the power to overcome my tough circumstances, and I want to inspire others in the same way.”
Dr. Majeda Awawdeh is Founder and Managing Director of Global Education Academy - a learning centre modeled on her PhD research into cognitive load theory and mathematics education.
“I strongly believe in trying to leave the world a better place, and that my route for this is through science and technology.”
A pioneering and internationally recognised physicist, Sarah Pearce is delivering world-leading facilities for the international astronomy community in her role as Deputy Director of CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science.
“I believe that I have the opportunity to turn employment programs into something that helps drive change and positive outcomes for Indigenous Australians.”
As the Community Development Program Manager at the Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation, Emma Kelly helps support Indigenous Australians make self-determined choices about their future.
“I am passionate about creating an environment where people feel courageous enough to speak up and be part of building a great workplace.”
Gabrielle Iwanow brings extensive experience from across the globe to her role. As General Manager of Prominent Hill at OZ Minerals, she is responsible for mining, processing and associated infrastructure.
“My passion comes from the natural environment and everything it encompasses. I want to be part of making a difference to the world’s environment, and for that change to happen now.”
Glenys Tarrant co-founded a small engineering company which evolved into Micronised Mineral Solutions. The business helps manage and repair the environmental effects caused by the mining and industrial sectors.
"I am passionate about helping people succeed, be it helping tenants find a home, helping landlords create wealth, or helping my team grow and develop professionally and personally.”
Hannah Gill is Managing Director at Independent Property Management. A highly regarded professional and advocate for the property industry, she regularly speaks at conferences across Australia and internationally.
“I want to spark an honest debate about vulnerability and self-doubt not being a weakness, but a weapon we can channel to build businesses that make the world a better place.”
Hannah Spilva is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of LVLY, an online flower gifting company. The all-female team has grown significantly since 2015, and gives back by supporting community initiatives.
“I’ve not followed a traditional education path. I’ve deliberately explored experiential learning, which has offered me the opportunity to get a hands on approach in a broad range of operational activities.”
Heidi Prowse is a positive force to be reckoned with. As Chief Executive Officer of Mental Illness Education ACT, she aims to change the social stigma associated with mental health within the ACT community.
“As a leader it is my responsibility to be an authentic, brave and truthful voice with compassion and to create a safe and supportive culture that allows our people to do their best work for the community.”
Group Executive Business Performance at Sunshine Coast Regional Council, Jeanette Allom-Hill, is responsible for a portfolio including Finance, IT, Human Resources, Procurement and Property Management.
“My particular leadership approach is one of entrepreneurship, calculated experimentation and nimbleness, taking advantage of opportunities but always balancing these with the needs of our clients and the arts community.”
Jo Thomas, Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director of Metro Arts, supports and mentors artists to realise their creative potential, present their work to audiences and help build their careers.
“Finance isn’t necessarily the place people think of when they talk outcomes, however everything we do can impact so many. I love knowing that if we get things right, we can make a difference for everyone.”
As Director General at the Department of Finance, Jodi Cant reports to the Minister and Treasurer and leads 1,000 staff. At the head of a central agency, her dedicated work influences Western Australia’s entire public sector.
“I aim to lead the way Australian schools address cyber safety, and show young women that innovative ideas and grit are powerful tools for thriving in the world of business.”
A young founder with an all-female executive team, Jordan Foster is an expert in the field of cyber safety and a specialist in the treatment of gaming addiction in Australia.
“I believe the best things in life are free, and everything else should be fairly traded. In launching Eloments, we’ve created a for-purpose, for-profit business, where ethical decision making is the norm.”
From her early years in California, Julie Hirsch has had a passion for progressive causes. After becoming Deputy Director of a climate action organisation, she co-founded Eloments, the world’s first natural vitamin teas.
“My focus is largely on human success because I believe our people are our greatest assets and establishing a positive culture is critical to business success. Our culture is what makes our business successful.”
Julie Verner-Mackay’s role as Human Success Director of aXcelerate is crucial because she believes that, without a commitment to staff, staff don’t have a commitment to their clients.
“My commitment to social justice, to listening and learning, to excellence, and to the community have all shaped the leader that I am today. I am dedicated to making the world a better place.”
Through her work at Justice Connect, Kate Fazio has been pivotal to designing and implementing radically new and successful approaches to delivering free legal services.
“I want women to choose careers in finance and have greater representation and peer support. I want them to see my path as one they can take and then progress much further than I have.”
Katherine McConnell is Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Brighte, a rapidly growing financial services company with a predominantly female C-level executive team.
“My personal vision is to make IT more relatable to businesses, rather than a mysterious 'black box' that is complicated and confusing.”
Chief Information Officer at Flinders University, Kerrie Campbell, is primarily responsible for all IT systems including HR, Finance, Websites and CRM's, cybersecurity and network infrastructure.
“I am passionate about what I do because my company was created from my own life experiences as a child. I had my first vision for Standing Strong as an 18 year old and have spent the last twenty years bringing it to life.”
As Founder and CEO of Standing Strong, Kim has made it her mission to help children build strong minds, strong bodies and strong hearts. She is passionate about being able to build a support network for children and families.
“Supporting people with a disability to reach their unique potential, and removing barriers that limit their participation in everyday life, has a profound impact on the whole of the community.”
Occupational therapist Leanne Healey founded Everyday Independence in 1997 aiming to help people with disabilities live everyday lives.
“I believe in enhancing the living conditions of Aboriginal people through increased health, education, employment, social justice and economic development. In many cases, this all starts with adequate housing.”
Leeanne Caton is Chief Executive Officer of Yilli Rreung Housing Aboriginal Corporation - an Indigenous housing group that services more than 200 properties in the Darwin area.
“I approach every business I work in as if it were my own, and take pride in the guidance I give our team. Being able to contribute to others’ journeys in their work life brings me great satisfaction.”
As General Manager of Corporate Services at Enwave Australia, Lisa McConnon oversees all HR, IT and marketing functions, helping shape the company’s culture and strategy.
“I’m proud to work for an organisation that is committed, as I am, to empowering people with disabilities to live a rich and independent life.”
Liz Cohen, Chief Executive at Cara, aims to provide high quality, value for money services for people with disabilities.
“Receiving recognition is testament to the many fantastic aged care facilities whose teams have given their hearts and souls to the care and dignity of their residents.”
As Chief Executive Officer of Medea Park Association, Margaret Williams has dedicated her career to caring for community members, taking on various roles within the healthcare sector.
“Since launching the business, I've found continued inspiration in knowing that what we are doing is truly different, and is redefining the way people engage with and think about their legal service providers.”
In founding Peripheral Blue in 2016, Mellissa Larkin’s vision was of a legal and consulting firm with a difference. She has embraced innovation, providing a dynamic new style of legal services to benefit her clients and team.
“My career trajectory has been successful because I welcome mistakes and challenges. I also dare to dream and keep my dreams alive.”
Zimbabwe-born Onica Mhaka has overcome challenges and hardships to become a Project Manager at Height Dynamics Pty Ltd.
“I have oversight of the complete academic life-cycle of our students at RMIT across Melbourne, Singapore and Vietnam. I know first-hand the importance of education and a supportive environment and network.”
As Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Education and Vice-President of RMIT University, Professor Belinda Tynan leads a team responsible for implementing strategies that impact more than 90,000 students.
“As a leader, I have a great appreciation for different personalities within the business. Playing to their strengths and empathising with them when they need is really important.”
Rachel Vasicek founded Francesca with her sister in 2013, selling jewellery at Salamanca Market. Since then, she’s driven the business’ digital marketing, design and operations as it has expanded across Australia.
“I say yes to every opportunity and back myself and my team to be able to find a solution. I have always strived to learn new things and see every challenge as an opportunity to grow.”
Rebecca Clare is Operations Manager and Co-Owner of PhysioWest, an Adelaide healthcare and wellbeing service. She has a vision to make a lasting impact in the healthcare industry and create better health outcomes for all.
“I’ve learnt that what we perceive as a challenge is sometimes a blessing. The ability to problem solve and think out of the box helps me as a leader.”
Rhiannon Beach’s unique approach to pet care is driven by investing in people and collaboration. Her dog daycare business, Pups4Fun, has grown from caring for a few pups per day, to more than 400 dogs per week.
“A workplace should embrace vulnerability, creativity and courage. I don't want my company to grow, I simply want my work to matter and for others to have that same opportunity.”
Samantha Truscott is Founding Partner of Allegro Education, an early intervention service provider that uses music to help children with disabilities.
“I have a desire to fix anything that’s broken. Having lost both my parents to cancer early on, I am proud to play a role in changing the breast cancer death rate through research.”
Breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in Australia and Sarah Hosking wants to share her passion for finding a cure. As Chief Executive Officer, she delivers the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s strategy for change.
“Protecting the health of our loved ones is of the highest importance. I am passionate about helping one million HBF members find peace of mind at an affordable price.”
Selina Torrance is Executive General Manager of Member Experience at HBF, Western Australia’s largest not-for-profit private health insurer.
“Managing a team within a typically male-dominated industry like mining is challenging but also highly rewarding. I hope to inspire other women to see their future in mining.”
Joining Rio Tinto as an engineer, Yinzhu Quan was selected to be one of just six members on its Pioneer Lab - a panel working on 10-20 year-long strategies and new visions for the company.