Australia's finest talent, doing business their way
Meet the women undoing business. The Telstra Business Women's Awards finalists represent the best and brightest business talent from a range of different backgrounds and industries. The one thing that unites them? A drive to continue their achievements by undoing traditional business for the better. Learn all about this year's finalists below.
Once you've been nominated, you'll be asked to submit your Awards entry. Your entry will help our Judges get to know you, and why you deserve to be recognised in the wider business community.
Our panel of expert Judges will get together to start their deliberations, examine the entries and learn as much as possible about the women we'll celebrate for doing business differently.
"Alison's Garden & Landscape is building opportunity for individual development so that its people may in turn assist my vision of community improvement through sustainable horticulture." - Alison Flakemore
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.
"Our business exists because of the relentless changes that workplaces are going through. Organisations, leaders and individuals no longer have time to hold onto grudges; instead they need to address issues quickly and be at the forefront of change, rather than reacting to it. This is what we help them do." - Alison Hill
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.
"Day-to-day improvements add up to amazing progress when you look back at them. That’s the secret to my success." Allison Yeoland
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.
"To be able to bring a smile to someone's face, who may be experiencing hardship at the moment, really drives home what Kit and Clowder is all about." - Alyce Keegan
Alyce Keegan took her passion for art and transformed it into a lucrative craft education business with a social impact. 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.
"Australia's economy is built on the backbone of small business, so it matters that the businesses and family groups that own them are educated and empowered to greater success." - Alyson Garrett
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.
"The solutions I develop determine how the university operates, and the strategic projects I lead - such as funding for new infrastructure - will benefit future generations." - Amanda Castray
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.
"Being a leader involves a continuous feeling of being uncomfortable, because, when it comes to our nation’s most complex and entrenched social issues, ‘business as usual’ has failed." Amy Brown
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).
"My clients have myriad conditions and this rich, diverse circumstance has provided me with endless opportunities to learn about and care for them." - Amy Haulman
A remedial massage therapist, Amy launched her start-up venture, Aim Remedial Massage in 2015.
"To sell a dream, to lead the curve and blaze a new trail I have had to overcome the fear of failure and rejection and believe in myself." - Amy Reiner
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.
"Today's best entrepreneurs are those who are nimble, determined risk-takers and who show an understanding of the people around them." - Andrea Michaels
As a lawyer challenging established boundaries, and a woman extending her horizons, being resilient and determined are two of Andrea Michaels’ key traits.
"No matter what your technical specialty, leaders who can engage people in the pursuit of shared goals are the ones who bring out the best in others." - Anna Dartnell
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.
"Traditional ways of doing things only work in traditional settings. In a fast-paced world of rapid change, the ability to change and adapt is critically important." - Antonia Mercorella
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.
"Advancing access to quality, culturally appropriate services for Aboriginal people matters immensely. All SAC’s programs aim to encourage, empower and improve our clients’ lives and opportunities." - Asha Bhat
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.
"With no significant treatment breakthroughs, there is expected to be more than 1 million people with dementia in Australia by 2056. New approaches to treatment are needed and the research my team is conducting has the potential to deliver these." - Associate Professor Kate Hoy
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.
"My work sees me involved with many great communities. It’s given me the chance to make a tangible difference by helping customers to manage their energy and influence perceptions about what the future will bring." - Ayesha Razzaq
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.
"Our work is important because young people engaged with Whitelion often lack meaningful relationships in their lives and slip through the cracks of mainstream society." - Barbara Walters
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.
"I love a challenging situation and live by the motto, ‘if it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you." - Belinda Tumbers
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.
"I pride myself on building a brand which has the best advice, product and knowledge. I want every client to be sure that they are making informed choices, with no second thoughts." - Belle Chadwick
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 an active entrepreneur in the industry, I have built a team of people who are relatable and good listeners, allowing entrepreneurs to see themselves in us." - Bessi Graham
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.
"Music opened up the world to me and I've had the most remarkable life because of it. I want others to experience that too." - Bourby Webster
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.
"In my current role, I am able to combine my passion for AFL with helping women to achieve equality and success – both on and off the sports field." - Breeanna Brock
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.
"I believe that barriers are meant to be broken and you can achieve anything through hard work, being solution-focused and developing effective partnerships." Camille O'Meara
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.
"I love what I do because it’s not just a job. It’s knowing that every day you played a part in making someone's life amazing." - Carla-Louise Wallace
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.
"Corporate social responsibility can provide businesses with a competitive edge, but more than that, diversity and inclusion recognises the pivotal role migration plays in building our nation." - Carmen Garcia
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.
"I’m on a mission to provide women with shoes that make them feel confident and comfortable. The shoes hide support and cushioning, as if they were undercover orthopaedic shoes disguised as fashion." - Caroline McCulloch
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.
"Having the opportunity to give people back some quality of life is humbling and rewarding and is the essence of my business." - Caroline Monet
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.
"To become a public service leader was a conscious decision. It enables me to be part of influencing the decision-making process to contribute positively to Australian society now and into the future" - Catherine Walsh
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.
"These organisations often have a traditional and entrenched approach to marketing, with many embracing digital for the very first time. I feel very proud to be able to go on this journey with them." - Charlotte Durack
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.
"I feel fortunate to be involved in an industry and sport that embraces such breadth of people and experience, and I’m excited by the prospect of bringing racing to its full potential." - Charlotte Mills
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.
"My role leads and inspires people to think, plan and act creatively, turning good ideas about urban spaces and living into real outcomes. This stuff shapes the world we live in." - Coralie Nichols
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.
"My role enables the South Terrace Urology doctors to focus on what they do best, which is surgery. Meanwhile, I drive the purpose, strategy and development of the business itself." - Corrine Fiebiger
Corrine Fiebiger is on a mission to deliver excellence in the provision of urological health at South Terrace Urology.
"Australia has world leading democracy, but satisfaction is at an all time low. The 2016 election had the lowest turnout since compulsory voting was introduced in 1927. The Museum of Australian Democracy is uniquely placed to make a difference – which we do with our vibrant exhibitions, school programs and events. Im immensely proud of the role were playing in empowering visitors, shaping research and shifting attitudes for the future." - Daryl Karp
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.
"We make a difference to peoples’ livelihoods, not just to big miners but also to farmers and fishermen when they’ve run into an issue. The quicker we create a solution, the less money they lose. We help keep everything turning." - Deanne Watts
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.
"I’m proud to be fostering an open, dynamic and inclusive agency where young, clever, passionate people are actively shaping what the agency can achieve." - Derry Simpson
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.
"I believe the world needs unique leaders as they motivate people to work toward a common goal, maximise efficiency and influence positive change." - Dhakshi Weerawardena
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.
"I love what I do because it transforms lives on a grand scale, which is exhilarating and rewarding. My life's work creates smiling faces that radiate joy to the world." - Di Westaway
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.
"My business is about transforming lives by addressing an aesthetic concern which can in turn translate to so much more in terms of confidence, happiness and freedom." - Dr Anh Nguyen
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.
"My practical and innovative thinking is aimed at solving challenging problems affecting the newborn babies of today. It gives me a great sense of enrichment to be in a capacity to undertake those feats." - Dr Anushi Rajapaksa
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.
"I feel strongly that we all share the same world and we all deserve the same rights, dignity and respect. It’s up to people who live in countries like ours to make it happen in less fortunate countries." - Dr Catherine Wheatley
Dr Catherine Wheatley looks to put humanity into action, by opening people’s consciousness and encouraging people to think more altruistically about others.
"There is a lack of education as to how poor oral health detrimentally affects overall health and so I am determined to use my professional knowledge and skills to make a difference." - Dr Jessica Manuela
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.
"Health is a major growth sector globally. With changing demographics and increasing disease burdens, Australia must develop its medical technology, biotechnology and pharmaceutical economy to secure a healthier, wealthier future for its citizens." - Dr Melanie Thomson
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).
"If we don't change how we deliver healthcare, by 2030 our society will be spending all of its revenue on health – something that will affect us all if we do not act now." - Dr Nicki Murdock
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.
"I like to think the world needs passionate, pioneering veterinary surgeons to raise standards, expectations and outcomes within the profession." - Dr Perrine Neretti
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.
"I’m great at taking on a challenge and getting the job done. In my work, this means identifying priority research directions and delivering knowledge that helps industry be more effective and efficient." - Dr Rachel Kennedy
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.
"Service NSW makes life easier for customers. We have been shaped by what customers have told us: they want easier access to government services, faster service and a single point of contact." - Dr Rachna Gandhi
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.
"While much progress towards gender equality has been made, there is still a long way to go. Violence against women takes on new forms; the gender pay gap persists; there are still too few women in leadership. This is why what I do matters." - Dr Sue Williamson
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.
"Our mission to connect people with nature and save species from extinction has never been more important. The animals we've returned to the wild wouldn't be there without us." - Elaine Bensted
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.
"I believe pharmacists are massively under-utilised health professionals, and that women make amazing leaders in business. The world needs more people who challenge norms, bring up issues which can be uncomfortable to talk about and raise awareness of health conditions." - Elise Apolloni
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.
"My vision for the brand is based on my own sense of humour and personal taste. Through a lot of hard work, Blushing Confetti has become an international name and we’re not done growing yet!" - Ellen Powell
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.
"Throughout my career, I’ve learnt that challenges are vital to the growth of an organisation, because they promote learning and idea creation, but it also fosters effective teamwork within a business." Elly Griffin
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.
"No one is too young, too inexperienced or too 'bright-eyed' to have an influence on business decisions. By surrounding yourself with the right people, there is much to be learned and achieved." - Emily McCarthy
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.
"I would hope that the decisions I make in developing female leaders for tomorrow, will mean that there are more women in the workplace that support and encourage each other." - Fleur Madden
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.
"I have the ability to build and maximise my networks to impact the lives of the most vulnerable, giving them a voice, a path and the aspiration to make the most of their lives." - Gail Ker OAM
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.
"We are about making people laugh, connecting with them through storytelling and music. We strive to create compelling content every day across the country, across all of our assets – from live radio to social, digital and events." - Gemma Fordham
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.
"I've been lucky to be able to combine my passion for social justice with my work. DCC is not just a ‘job’ but a lifestyle I've embraced." - Gemma Lloyd
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.
"It has never been more difficult for companies to be heard, understood and to stand out in a crowded space. Being able to successfully navigate these waters is not a luxury, but a necessity." - Gemma Tognini
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.
"My personal mission is to make an impact. I want to achieve this by continuing to create new things, such as sustainable commercial businesses, which push new boundaries." Gen George
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.
"Our work in education matters more than most as our students face significant challenges with regard to cultural stigma and barriers to educational opportunity, access, aspiration, participation and equality." - Gill Berriman
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.
"Not having enough sleep is debilitating for both baby and parents. We have created special garments that eliminate the safety risks of traditional sleepwear and extend infants’ sleep patterns." - Hana-Lia Krawchuk
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.
"I am passionate about living life with a purpose. I want to make a difference in the lives of others by becoming a leader and an inspirational speaker, to influence other young women, through my success and achievements." - Hanna Graham
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.
"As a young female in what is traditionally a male-dominated field, I’ve quickly learnt how to prove my experience and knowledge in conversation before being given the opportunity to show my skills out in the field." - Hannah Mills
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 success of Notch Above is linked to leveraging technologies to create useful and transparent systems to process, record and report on client financials." - Jacqueline Gallagher
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.
"I am incredibly inspired by the innate potential, creativity and talent in every person. If we can unlock this by being inclusive and valuing diversity, many world problems can be solved." - Jade Collins
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.
"I am passionate about Indigenous rights and effecting change. I want to ensure that the culture, language and heritage is carried on for future generations." - Jahna Cedar
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.
"I am passionate about helping my staff make decisions that will positively influence their mental and physical health and wellbeing. I am committed to demonstrating that through support in the workplace, we can reverse the statistics." - Jan Bingley
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.
"I believe volunteering is the right thing to do. It inherently connects people to each other and is a small way that I am able to give back and show gratitude for the life I have." - Janine Arnold
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.
"Most women with life controlling issues believe there is no hope for a meaningful life. I live to inspire women to believe for the impossible in their own lives." - Janine Epere
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.
"I feel like the world needs more of what I do, as so many women find themselves consumed by poor body-image and self-doubt. They haven't yet experienced the health benefits and emotional strength that come with a holistic lifestyle change." - Jenifer Lee Apps
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.
"As a pioneer of our industry in WA, I believe the contribution I have made over many years has made a real difference to the people I represent." - Jennifer Franceschi
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.
"I absolutely love creating a community around helping girls and women feel confident in their bodies and to embrace themselves. It is the best reward to see them looking so happy in my designs." - Jessica Williamson
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.
"My vision for Kid Sense is simple yet compelling – create the most trusted brand in child development in Australia." - Joanna Buttfield
Having undertaken specialist paediatric training in the USA, Joanna Buttfield recognised the desperate need for similar services here in Australia.
"As a country, we want to provide the best care possible for our seniors. I believe I am contributing to a bigger picture, by influencing change within the aged-care sector both at the forefront and globally." - Judy Martin
In a career spanning 35 years, Judy Martin has worked on remote, rural, state, national and international aged care projects.
"My hope is that Infinity Legal will have an impact on the community, empower women and encourage people not to accept family violence as a part of life and relationships." - Julia Heinze
rought 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.
"Leading the financial industry from the front in terms of integrity, professionalism and ethics is essential. I believe in standing up for what I believe is right." - Julia Schortinghuis
Finance can be daunting and overwhelming for some, but after 24 years in the financial sector, it comes naturally to Julia Schortinghuis.
"I'm passionate about driving innovation and leadership, and having an empowered and talented team working together to make great products to grow Thankyou, so we can help people in need." - Justine Flynn
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.
"I was given a mission to strengthen the NSW economy by creating jobs and a blank slate as to how I would do it. Blending the best of the public and the private sector to deliver a unique economic and social outcome was an irresistible challenge." - Karen Borg
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.
"My vision is to develop students who will be engaged in their learning and become lifelong learners, developing resilience and optimism." - Karen Wade
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.
"My mission is to remind people that bigger is not always better and that a product with integrity, skilfully arranged by someone who truly cares, is a far more valuable proposition for both buyer and seller." - Kate Sice
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.
"We’re teaching people to love food again. They learn where their food comes from, how to use veggies or meat, and how to try different cooking styles. There are too many people missing out on the simple joys of a home cooked meal." - Katherine Roberts
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.
"I come into work every day knowing that myself and my dedicated team are creating a positive impact on the environment." - Katy Barfield
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.
"The world needs to understand the incredible value that spatial technology brings to business and day to day life." - Kellee Ireland
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.
"I believe there is nothing more important than building the resilience of our children and empowering them to make smarter choices in life" - Kellie Sloane
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.
"I have transformed KBULG’s facilities into a community hub, holding events, programs and activities. The space now enables greater engagement, education and employment pathways." - Kim Eckert
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.
"I enjoy leading a workforce of highly skilled and extremely capable consultants to deliver value to our clients and overcome the challenges of operating across a number of different technical domains." - Kristen Raby
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.
"I’m empowering women by giving them access to a better line of underwear that conveniently does away with the need for disposable hygiene." - Kristy Chong
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.
"I can help companies grow and employ people in regional areas, which typically have higher unemployment rates than cities. At the same time, I can also support our transition to a cleaner energy future." - Kylie Hargreaves
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.
"By providing employees with a deeper insight into the challenges and opportunities of Indigenous employment, they can better understand why theres a gap and become emotionally invested in contributing towards solutions. " - Kyra Bonney
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.
"I am a loyal and proud Navy Officer, and I love providing mentorship to my junior colleagues as well as providing peer support. As success is built on trust, cultivating positive relationships is essential." - LCDR Susan Harris
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.
"We need a community that has an understanding, acceptance and is free of the stigma that exists towards mental illness. My work has built extensive partnerships within the community to raise awareness and increase knowledge of mental illness." - Lee Martinez
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.
"The food we eat impacts our overall gut health. By reducing the presence of questionable additives and creating transparency around sourcing, we can reduce the burden of disease and improve the quality of life for many." - Linda Monique, Founder and CEO
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.
"The world needs more people who are interested in embracing diversity, not afraid of it. More people who can communicate their experiences to educate others authentically, without judgement, because every drop in the ocean counts." - Lisa Dart
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.
"I love what I do because we enrich lives. Many clients are socially isolated or confined to their homes. We help them create new social networks and enhance their mental wellbeing." - Lisa Du
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.
"Cara as a profit-for-purpose will change the way individuals view people with disability. With our support, our customers can become ambitious, resilient and autonomous and ‘find possible’ in their lives." - Liz Cohen
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.
"My proudest achievement has been my ability to establish and grow Varo so quickly and build a loyal and passionate team, despite my four-year absence from the SA market." - Loretta Cavallaro
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.
"I constantly strive to grow and nurture a team of strong, like-minded women who help me to work towards the common company goals and mission." - Maitri Patel
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.
"I am excited every day to be leading and directing this award-winning enterprise that recognises the talents of my people and delivers outstanding service across multiple sectors." - Marcella Romero
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.
"We live in a world filled with conflict and lacking in social connectedness. Our vision is that people with disability are equal and valued members of the community." - Marianne Hubbard
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.
"With the rise of learning difficulties and illnesses such as autism, ADHD and depression, there is a real need for integrative treatments." - Mary-Anne Apps
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.
"I am focused on adding value to all stakeholders, building long-term, trusting relationships and enabling opportunities for individual and employer growth." - Melissa Stanford
Melissa Stanford’s start-up venture, Add Staff, unites her four areas of expertise: STEM industries, education and training, recruitment, and business management.
"When you decide to take on a leadership role you have a responsibility to the people you have decided to lead. Time is the greatest commodity you can give to your staff." - Michelle Baxter ASM
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.
"Everyone deserves to feel valued and important in their workplace, regardless of rank or position. That is why I lead the way I lead, and do what I do." - Michelle Fyfe
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.
"Success for me is more than stable revenue flows and lower costs. It is time available to develop high-value, rewarding, advisory relationships with clients." - Michelle McDowall
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.
"Researchers and inventors look to innovate to solve real-world problems and improve lives. My role is to turn those ideas into realities." - Natalie Chapman
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.
"People have different areas of knowledge, and I love providing a space for everyone to show what they can do, whether they are juniors or seniors." - Natasha Norton
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.
"Data-driven advocacy encourages evidence-based public policy development, which is vital to healthy, functioning democracies." - Nicole Buskiewicz
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.
"My key aim was to develop a solid approach to guest management, through the implementation of a range of policies and procedures to assist staff in consistently delivering best practice customer service." - Nicole McCullagh
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.
"I teach girls to expect respect. I break down barriers of cultural insensitivity, and respond to those who have been traumatised, by creating an environment where they are loved, safe and can learn. I shape the lives of young women by building resilience so past hurts do not define their future." - Paulina Skerman
St Patrick’s College in Townsville had declining enrolments before Paulina Skerman took on the role of Principal.
"Life is short, and true individual happiness comes from supporting others and bringing a bit of happiness and joy into as many lives as you can touch." - Penelope O’Sullivan
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.
"Travel brings people together, and facilitates trade and innovation. It also directly impacts a business' bottom-line. My mission is to enhance clients’ travel experiences through personalised services and open communication." - Penny Spencer
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.
"Mental health is the biggest disease on the planet. It is also one of the most treatable. We can and should do better." - Peta Slocombe
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.
"I am passionate that my work contributes to an inclusive and multicultural Australia while enabling our clients to commence a new life in our ‘land of opportunity." - Petra Playfair
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.
"I love what I do because it involves spending time with people I care about, people I believe in and people who want to make this world a better place." - Prof Jane Burns
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.
"I love what I do because I know that nurses can, and do, make a tremendous difference to the welfare and well-being of societies." - Professor Kylie Ward
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.
"My teams are producing world-class research that is leading change in policy and practice in child protection. It is my role to continually reinforce and communicate the importance of our work." - Professor Leah Bromfield
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.
"I absolutely believe that education is the way to lift people, whether out of poverty, or for women to have independence, and for leaders to be better versions of themselves." - Professor Robin Stonecash
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.
"The purpose of my business is to provide a natural, vegan beauty destination, a place that acknowledges and educates on the importance of self-care, while bringing positive change towards sustainable, environmental-friendly practices." - Rachel Roberts
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.
"My greatest passion is bringing together the hearts and minds of people to operate at the highest levels of trust, cooperation efficiency and innovative thinking." - Rhonda Hardy
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.
"I believe that the company that stands still will fall behind. I am constantly looking to overseas markets to ensure OURTEL maintains our status as a leading service provider to the Australian not-for-profit industry.” - Ruth Mackay
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.
"The world needs people with good competencies but also the confidence to use them. Empowerment leads to confidence, confidence leads to success." - Sandra Gillanders
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.
"Future generations want to make societal impact and feel valued. I want to inspire millennials to invest their time and energy in industries like insurance." - Sara Kahlau
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.
"The decisions and actions I take today will hopefully open the minds of young men and women and inspire them to pursue their passions." - Sarah Battenally
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.
"The only thing between you and the life you dream of is whether you have the courage to choose it." - Sarah Holloway
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.
"With microbial resistance to antibiotics increasing, the importance of developing alternatives for use in animal treatment has never been more critical to human and animal health. I am proud to be part of this important mission." - Sarah Hunter
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.
"I am motivated by making a positive difference in people’s lives. My passion for the mission of WMHP is infectious, inspiring my team to ensure my vision has become our reality." - Shan Morrison
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.
"My role is important to other women in the AFP because I advocate for them and understand the journey up through the ranks. I need to exemplify the values of the AFP." - Sharon Cowden
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.
"Every decision I make is towards how I can best support women to thrive and succeed in business to reach their greatest potential in life." - Sheree Rubinstein
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.
"My strengths are identifying and defining strategy to deliver on opportunities of scale for broader community, membership or public purpose." - Simone Constant
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.
"Think Inc.’s purpose is to make science and evidence-based thinking sexy and to remind people that being intelligent is cool!" - Suzi Jamil
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 General Manager, I am able to use all of my retail experience to build a team, brand and legacy for the company." - Tishara Mina
Tishara Mina is the general manager for jewellery brand Emma and Roe – part of international jewellery conglomerate, the Michael Hill Group.
"Our programs are about creating a positive problem-solving mindset in young people that lasts a lifetime. It’s about encouraging young Australians to think big and follow their dream." - Tracy Marsh
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.
"I’ve come to appreciate how much our community needs counselling to save lives. People struggle to find the right kind of help. My business provides an army of mental health experts available 7 days a week, and explains counselling to the community, making accessing help very easy." - Vivian Jarrett
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.
"Happy Paws Happy Hearts’ core goal is to give our participants a renewed sense of purpose and help them feel needed in our society. It's a dream to see people and animals come together to heal." - Zoe Black
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).