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.
Join us in Sydney at the 2019 Telstra Australian Business Women's Awards, for a night of glitz and glamour where we'll be recognising the most inspiring women undoing business.
“Empowering a team to work together to solve a problem is what drives me. There is nothing more fulfilling than seeing a team achieve results outside the realm of what they thought possible.”
In just eight years, Alexandra Gannon’s continuous passion for communication, people and teamwork, has seen her climb the ranks of Australian digital marketing agency, Reload Media, to become General Manager and lead a team of over 35 staff.
“My vision is to elevate us from a winemaker and hospitality venue to a genuine tourism destination for Ballarat. I love to promote our region and share our love of food and wine.”
Driven by excellence in food and wine production, as well as fostering a vibrant local industry, Alicia Linley leads the way as the Managing Director at Mitchell Harris Wines. Alicia oversees operational and strategic decision making, business development, human resource management, legal and accounting, marketing, finance, IT and compliance.
“Digital reform is important in the Defence Force at a time when traditional thinking about command, control and communication is challenged by evolving global threats.”
Alison Petchell took on the challenge of transitioning from CEO of a not-for-profit to public servant in the Department of Defence a decade ago, with the unwavering motivation of helping others. Entering an industry with deeply entrenched processes, Alison’s previous experience continues to give her the capability to innovate as she grows.
“Real estate is a people business, and my role is to help clients navigate the process of buying, selling or renting a home, business, rural and agricultural property. I want to make the whole process easier.”
Alison Ross is the Director of Elders Real Estate in Katherine, NT. Aware that property transactions, whether they’re pastoral or horticultural, business or residential, are among the most stressful life experiences, Alison believes that the process should be smooth.
“Growing the team and supporting individuals to succeed is why I enjoy my job. Seeing others develop skills and advance in their career is my biggest driver.”
Amanda Steele is dedicated to giving back to the community as she excels as the NSW Executive Managing Director (EMD) of commercial real estate firm, CBRE. Amanda began her career working tirelessly in government, corporate and not-for-profit sectors. Now, as the first female EMD in Australia, Steele champions diversity, leadership and sustainability.
“I don’t believe in failure, just learning opportunities.”
As General Manager Corporate Services, Amy O’Connor strives to find innovative solutions to deliver high quality outcomes for both internal and external stakeholders. Originally from an accounting background, she now leads her team to provide the vital company infrastructure of IT, Software Development, QSE, Finance, Payroll and Corporate Governance.
“My aim is to reduce the number of dogs being re-homed or euthanised due to behavioural problems and provide quality services to improve the bond between pet and owner.”
Amy Van Dyk recognises the value dogs bring to families, and aims to help owners achieve their goals of having a happy, well-adjusted and well-behaved pet. As the Owner and Director of Advanced Behavioural Training, she provides a range of services to help mitigate dog behavioural issues and rehabilitate those with problems.
“I am passionate about creating positive change in our world. My obligation is to inspire and support the potential of every person I connect with.”
Anastasia Massouras is the CEO and Founder of Pure Insights, an Australian-owned international counselling, consulting and training organisation with the vision to empower people to soar. She ensures there are bespoke interventions and programs uniquely crafted to be the best match for any situation.
“We listen to our customers and have them at the heart of everything we do.”
Proud to be the first female local leader for NAB in the Northern Territory, Angela Tomazos is dedicated to her customers and representing the voice of her community. As Managing Partner, she is accountable for customer growth, leading through digital transformation , enhancing market presence and elevating outcomes for customers and community.
“I made a choice to cement the name of my business in the car industry, while using my business platform to raise awareness to various charities and communities in need.”
Angie Mansey followed her dreams, selling the family home and assets to build her exhaust specialist business, Kuluin Mufflers. The business is not only known for its high-end workmanship and fantastic customer service, but for its contribution to the local community.
“We produce high-quality theatre and our vision is to be able to stage fully professional productions that tour.”
Anne Somes is the Artistic Director and Producer of Free-Rain, the largest professional-amateur theatre company in Canberra. Retiring from teaching to create the company, she has helped it grow from a youth theatre company into a thriving, highly regarded establishment for emerging and professional artists of all ages.
“We sell a product on the global market out of Tasmania, and provide a platform to educate horse owners everywhere about the benefits of leaving their four-legged companions barefoot.”
Annette Kaitinis started her career specialising in financial securities litigation before her real passion took over. Annette’s enthusiasm for horse riding and animal welfare has never wavered. Now as the Co-Founder and Director of Scoot Boots, a manufacturer of protective, lightweight equine hoof boots, she advocates for the health and wellbeing of horses.
“I am passionate about finding ways to improve outcomes for people with mental health disorders. I strive for this through research and direct engagement with the community.”
As an Associate Professor in the School of Medicine at Deakin University and Chair of the Australasian Society for Bipolar and Depressive Disorders, Olivia Dean is at the leading edge of mental health research. Olivia strives to influence the research direction at Deakin and ensures the findings are shared and implemented in clinical practice.
“I feel very privileged to be able to help enrich people's lives by providing quality and inclusive sport, recreational and social activities.”
As the Chief Executive Officer of New Horizons Club Tasmania, Belinda Kitto has made it her mission to provide dynamic and inclusive sport, recreation and social opportunities for Tasmanians living with a disability. Helping to empower individuals and families, she is making a vital contribution towards building an inclusive community.
“Children are intelligent, imaginative and capable, with an amazing amount of curiosity. Providing them with the opportunity to think, question and be reflective assists them to inquire and make predictions. They inspire me to advocate for our vision.”
As director of the Top End Learning Centre, Betty McKinlay’s vision is to inspire capable and resourceful minds and provide high quality care. With 110+ places available across two childcare centres in Karama and at the Royal Darwin Hospital, Betty is putting this ambition into practice.
“Music is not simply entertainment, it’s a fundamental human need in life. Bringing music to as many people as I can is my mission.”
With a mission to create “music for everyone” through performing songs from Beethoven to Britney, Bourby Webster, the CEO of the Perth Symphony Orchestra, is engaging audiences at an unprecedented level, and giving the most talented WA musicians a place to shine in a range of diverse and offbeat locations.
“The faces in our studio change regularly but the impact we leave on our students will remain with them for a lifetime.”
Brie Healy’s vision is to ensure high quality arts education is available to all rural children and adults in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. As Founding Director and Dance Educator at From Dust Creative Arts, Brie helps develop classes that aid development of physical, mental and social skills for children.
“More than a decade ago, I recognised gender equity and diversity of thought are one of my personal ambitions and, since then, I've set out to be a leader of change and influence in this area.”
As the General Manager of Customer and Market Operations at Energy Queensland, Carly Irving has dedicated her career to rebalancing gender power dynamics particularly in male-dominated industries. Carly established the Championing Women Network within the company, a monthly gathering with now more than 300 participants, both men and women.
“Our space helps small business owners flourish professionally and personally, by giving them an opportunity and a community to test their ideas and seek out their own definition of success.”
Managing Director of Zig Zag Hub, Carmen Rudd, is providing a unique opportunity for startups, freelancers and entrepreneurs to connect, grow and learn. Breaking the isolation barriers of working alone, Zig Zag Hub is an open working space for small business owners that encourages collaboration and innovation.
“I’m deeply passionate about creating a workplace where people find meaning in their work, feel proud of the products we sell and the service we provide.”
As the Executive Manager of Terri Scheer Insurance, Carolyn Parrella has invested her time instilling confidence back in real estate investors by providing them with reliable landlord insurance. She helps ensure that people who have invested in real estate can be confident that they will be supported when the unexpected happens.
“Our vision is to make the property buying experience a personal, successful and rewarding one for every client.”
Cate Bakos recognised that buyers face many challenges when they enter the property market, including great financial risk. As owner and manager of Cate Bakos Property, she has now made it her mission to provide her professional support to home buyers and investors.
“I founded the business on the fundamental principle that all Australians should have access to quality, affordable financial advice that addresses all of their financial needs and goals.”
From the very start of her career, Catherine Smith had a vision of using her knowledge to help people build better lives for themselves. Intent on providing the Australian population with rounded and objective financial advice, tailored to their own individual circumstance, she set up multi-disciplinary firm, Wholistic Financial Solutions, in 2010.
“As more business is now done online, security and website performance is imperative to most organisations.”
As a refugee, Celia Barbosa believed a university degree was her only way out of poverty. She is now excelling with a leadership position at JDS Australia, in the traditionally male-dominated industry of IT. In her role as General Manager, Celia leads the Micro Focus practice to bring in the highest revenue for the company.
“I foster and support the next generation of Australian businesses, products and services enabled by technology to create global businesses and for the benefit of all.”
Chantal Abouchar is the Founder and Chief Executive of The Studio Ltd, a not-for-profit organisation, supporting and cultivating tech startups and scaleup businesses. Chantal helps clients develop and scale their startup, attract investment, customers and talent, directly accelerating the creation of new jobs and brands on a global scale.
“Through our wearable art, we provide opportunities and make a substantial investment into the advancement of women, particularly Indigenous women.”
More than just her name on the door, Charmaine Saunders created Mainie as a global fashion brand by melding together authentic Aboriginal art with luxurious textiles. Taking a chance, Charmaine and her husband left their established careers and invested everything they had into starting a business in an unfamiliar field.
“Housing is an essential human need with benefits that extend beyond just the provision of shelter.”
Cheryl Wall considers herself a social landlord, with obligations far beyond tenancy agreements. Working with the Northern Territory Government, she provides housing pathways for the disadvantaged through short term and crisis accommodation, social housing, affordable rentals and home ownership.
“We are dedicated to supporting the community in cancer control. Our mission is to reduce the burden of cancer through research and support for people living with cancer.”
As Chief Executive Officer of Cancer Council Queensland, Chris McMillan aims to raise the revenue needed to fund leading research, promote the prevention message and support people and their families going through cancer treatment.
“Our values of quality and service are matched by our commitment to continued innovation and training for our team.”
As Owner of Florance Electrical, together with her partner Alex Florance, Courtney Sim Gully offers innovative solutions for her clients, reducing their power bills and carbon footprint. At just 25 years old, she is passionate about the industry and growing her business.
“We’ve always done what felt just right. We’ve never changed or adapted our thinking to suit anyone and thankfully our story and beers have been well received.”
Australia’s first female-owned brewery, Two Birds Brewing is breaking boundaries and aspiring to typify everything that is good about the Australian craft beer industry. Co-Owner and Founder, Danielle Allen, is striving to offer a point of difference and inspire others, best encapsulated in their slogan “Spread Your Wings”.
“I do the best I can to foster a supportive successful working environment, for staff, suppliers and customers with a culture of fun and honesty.”
Managing Director of Crowies Paints, Daphne Crowhurst has eight years of experience doing things differently. Leading Crowies Paints from a stagnant, family-owned business to a viable, robust franchise, she continues to facilitate a growing ‘sky-is-the-limit’ culture amongst her team of 50.
“We have delivered a fundamental shift in how our people work, how we engage with the community and ultimately, how we perform.”
Debbie Morrow has always had ambitious goals. Working at Woodside, Australia's largest independent oil and gas company, she has led teams and delivered projects in WA and around the world. In her most recent role, Debbie led the conception, development and construction for the company’s revolutionary headquarters.
“I am passionate not only about solving crime, but also conducting prevention programs, international investigations and research. I work to prevent, disrupt and prosecute criminals in order to protect our communities.”
As the Assistant Commissioner to the Australian Federal Police, Debbie Platz is dedicated to policing and protecting Australian communities. Specialising in Crime Operations, Debbie leads, manages and cares for the resourcing for this area across Australia and offshore.
“The shelter gave me the support I needed when I needed it, and I want other women and children to know that they too can get the support to change their circumstances.”
As CEO of Alice Springs’ only specialist domestic and family violence support service. Dianne Gipey’s service has, since its inception, provided support to thousands of women and children from hundreds of towns across six states.
“I aim for quality in every aspect of my business. I want my practice to be a practice of choice for patients and an employer of choice for staff.”
As ear, nose and throat surgeon, Dr Bridget Clancy provides high-quality medical care to rural citizens of Victoria, where the need for her skills is the greatest. Her practice provides more than 3,000 consultations and 900 operative procedures annually, often saving patients at least two hours of travel to alternative services in larger cities.
“I aim to maximise the educational potential of technology for children and young people.”
With technology constantly changing, new challenges continue to emerge for parents and their children. As an academic at Western Sydney University, Joanne Orlando conducts research to understand how children and young people can manage the risks associated with using technology as well as how to leverage technology to benefit their life.
“I have a diverse range of strategic and adaptive skills, which allow me to support Tasmanian councils to be more effective in their roles of providing safe, sustainable and livable communities.”
CEO of the Local Government Association of Tasmania, Katrena Stephenson represents all 29 of the Tasmanian local councils. Dedicated to building the capability and effectiveness of those councils, she manages a skilled team to keep councils informed on policy, research and other developments, while developing strategic approaches and practical solutions to a range of issues.
“Our vision is to empower all foster and kinship families through support, advocacy and training, to provide a safe and nurturing home for children and young people in care.”
Through her role as CEO of The Foster and Kinship Carers Association of Tasmania, Dr Kim Backhouse is making a huge impact on society. She leads her team in supporting carers with resources, training and support when dealing with children with complex needs and trauma.
“Education plays a vital role in contributing to the empowerment of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.”
Dr Leanne Holt, a Worimi/Biripi woman, has been involved in Indigenous higher education for more than 22 years. As Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Strategy) at Macquarie University, she focuses on increasing access, retention, participation and success of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and staff across whole-of-university.
"We are committed to raising awareness that one woman dies from heart disease per hour in Australia, yet it's 80% preventable. Our goal is to reduce this by 50% by 2025."
Dr Linda Worrall-Carter is a recognised world leader around women's heart health. Linda founded Her Heart in 2015, after leaving a successful career as Professor of Cardiac Nursing, and as Head of three Melbourne research centres. She also been awarded over $10 million in funding to date.
“I believe in the positive, life-enhancing impact of technology to change and improve the way we live and work.”
Recognised as one of Queensland's most influential people and a ‘Superstar of STEM’ by Science and Technology Australia, Sue Keay leads cyber-physical research at CSIRO’s Data61 after previously setting up the world’s first robotic vision research centre. Through her work, Sue is inspired to raise the profile of female voices in technology and increase the number of female researchers.
“I am dedicated to improving oral health in the communities surrounding my rural clinics and minimising the travel involved for patients to obtain dental care.”
Vyla Ellis has made it her mission to improve the oral health within SA’s South-East rural community in her role as CEO and Principal Dentist of Country Living Dentistry. With health outcomes for rural Australians being significantly worse than in cities, Vyla fills an important health gap in the region.
“I’m able to make an impact in the communities because I truly care about people and will extend myself to make life easier for another person, wherever possible.”
Dushyanthi Thangiah spends much of her time giving back to the community. As the CEO of Yumba-Meta Housing Association Limited, an organisation that provides access to housing and support services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, she helps the most marginalised people of the Townsville region.
“Through education, I hope that we can improve the birth experience and outcomes for all.”
As the CEO of Birth Beat, Edwina Sharrock has made it her mission to transform the traditional model of childbirth education. She delivers quality antenatal classes on online digital health platforms that are accessible to anyone, anywhere.
“Our clients provide products and services that are almost invisible to the public but underpin key experiences. Their stories are complex; we simplify and communicate them to audiences that matter.”
Elizabeth Marchant is the Group CEO of Recognition PR, Write Away Communication and Outsource, all united by a vision to help clients achieve sustainable growth by building their brand and reputation. Her fourth enterprise, Full-Time Woman is a social enterprise that provides a storytelling vehicle to put women’s experiences at the forefront of conversations.
“We don't just create furniture, we create statement pieces that generate conversation and help create a space in which families can be drawn together and create memories.”
Emily Barnes started CoQuelicot Designs in 2015, a custom-design upholstery business specialising in restoring antique and vintage chair frames with a unique flare. Since starting the business, she’s developed unwavering self-confidence and belief in herself and gone from hiding in the shadows to leading a flexible and booming business.
“In my role, I actively promote, encourage and discuss the wellbeing of lawyers. In all that we do at lexvoco, we are helping, bit by bit, to move the legal industry forward in terms of working flexibly, differently and in a way that allows work and life to co-exist comfortably.”
As a Principal of lexvoco, Emily McCarthy is working towards helping in-house lawyers succeed and improve their wellbeing. She is doing this by making quality legal advice simpler and more effective, through the use of technology and agile methodologies.
"We believe that each child and staff member is a unique individual with their own personal development needs, interests and differences.”
Founding Spraoi in 2010 at 21 years of age, Erin Rawlings has been providing quality education and care to children from diverse economic backgrounds. In that time, she’s been working directly with the children as well as managing administration for all business operations.
“I believe in changing our world and improving people's lives through volunteering and active citizenship. When it comes to doing good, even small actions can make a huge impact.”
As CEO of peak body Volunteering SA & NT, Evelyn O'Loughlin is a highly credible and informed voice across the not-for-profit sector. With a passion for giving back to the community, Evelyn currently sits on three Boards and is a member of the Premier's Council for Women, providing well-informed and strategic advice to the South Australian government on matters of significance to women.
"We instil lifelong learning for our students through high standards, high expectations and high achievement.”
Fathma Mauger is Principal of Larrakeyah Primary School, a successful independent public school in Darwin. Fathma leads the school to develop her students into high achieving students who will be the workforce of the future.
“The health benefits of work to a person and the cost of ill health to businesses are well documented. Being able to positively contribute to an individual’s return-to-health and return-to-work post illness or injury has been part of my vision from the start.”
Fiona Fonti strives to assist individuals who have been injured to return to health and to work. She has built The Rehabilitation Specialists from the ground up to deliver a range of injury management services, workplace solutions and specialist assessments, intervention and training services.
"By harnessing the power of digital marketing and building long-term relationships, I am changing and improving the way employers engage with recruiters."
As the Marketing Manager of HorizonOne Recruitment, Fiona Grimmer is helping to successfully disrupt the recruitment industry in Canberra – moving away from the sales approach of transactional recruitment experiences. Fiona creates bespoke marketing campaigns, which attract quality candidates to her agency and its clients.
“I started my business because the healthcare system had an unanswered need: physical rehabilitation in the comfort of one’s own home.”
Driven by a passion to see positive change, Fiona White is the director and founder of Own Body - the business that connects clients with experienced physiotherapy clinicians who, in turn, have provided outstanding, personalised service. In the nine years since starting out, Fiona has built Own Body into a remarkable business.
“Moving to a new home is always stressful. The best way for us to help customers is to have a comprehensive understanding of their circumstances, support system and any limitations they have, so we can help them to achieve their relocation objective.”
Motivated by the goal of changing the sometimes negative perceptions of the removal industry, Frances Wilson’s company, Leader Removals, engages and supports its clients through their moves. While moving home can be stressful, Frances’ team seeks to alleviate anxiety, particularly for those most vulnerable.
“I’m extremely proud to be the first Australian and the first woman to lead Australia’s largest Defence company, and thrilled to be an important part of delivering a sovereign capability for our nation.”
Gabrielle Costigan has had a distinguished international career in the defence, aviation and logistics industries where she has built a reputation for strong leadership and driving organisational success, including 20 years serving in the Australian Defence Force. She is now the CEO of BAE Systems Australia, the country’s largest defence company.
“I believe that filmmaking is one of the most powerful ways to create social change.”
Genevieve Clay-Smith is seeking to transform the film industry and society at large. As the Co-Founder and CEO of Bus Stop Films, she has created a pathway for people with intellectual disability and other marginalised community members to be involved in professional filmmaking.
“I am strongly committed to the advancement and empowerment of women, particularly those from migrant and refugee backgrounds, and to supporting women to harness their strengths.”
Gulnara Abbasova is the Executive Officer of Migrant and Refugee Women’s Health Partnership auspiced by Migration Council Australia, a national non-governmental organisation. Firmly believing in the benefits of effective migration and settlement for Australia, Gulnara has led national initiatives to empower vulnerable migrants and refugees, particularly women.
“It is vital that qualified graduates have a strong understanding of what the teaching profession is and how the decisions they make will impact their students.”
Jumping straight from high school to University, then to teaching, it’s safe to say Hannah Harvey is an expert at school. Now as the Regional Coordinator for the Bachelor of Education at the University of South Australia, Hannah believes proper mentorship and investment in her students is key.
“Rather than thinking we can prevent mental illness in our workforce, we seek to normalise it. I am very proud to be part of a company that has advanced this cultural transformation to the highest levels.”
Hannah Waters is working to change the culture of mental health management in the workplace. As a Director at Jacobs, a leading global professional services company, she wants to demonstrate that employees and organizations can thrive by tackling the mental health agenda head on.
“As individuals, we work with a core set of common values that drive our attitudes, words, and actions everyday.”
As a partner at KPMG, Heather Hicks is working with purpose to inspire confidence and empower change. She is devoted to creating, investing and building quality relationships, and established her “Women in Leadership” initiative to further support her ambitions of providing equal inclusion and diversity in the workplace.
“I want to continue to make a difference for women in our society, encourage others to stand up and be heard. Too often we, as women, do not stand up to be counted, and it’s a missed opportunity.”
Heather Veal juggles a challenging and rewarding role as General Manager of Mungalalu Truscott Airbase which provides air and ground logistics in remote Western Australia, alongside her position as a committee member of BPW Australia, a vibrant organisation that exists to promote the importance of women in leadership.
“If you have no cause for complaint because you’ve arrived at your destination safely, promptly and without discomfort; it means we have removed an obstacle that you didn’t even know was there.”
Aiming to continuously improve the transport sector, Executive Director of the State Transit Authority (STA) of New South Wales, Helen Jessop is taking a people-first approach. Her strength is in her ability to recognise the vast range of needs that her customers have for bus transportation.
“Along the way I have learnt that being resilient is one of the most important aspects of being a leader. You must stand up for what you know is right to achieve the required outcomes.”
Helen Loundes is the Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment System Program Office Director at the Capability and Support Group, Department of Defence. From apprentice chef, to performance manager and now director, Helen has always set significant goals in her career.
“We have a vision for a culturally and linguistically diverse and harmonious Tasmania that is fair, just and inclusive.”
As a Muslim woman from Pakistan, Hina Durrani’s mission is to counter the myths associated with females in business. Now as the Senior Vice Chairperson and Board Member for the Multicultural Council of Tasmania and the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia, she empowers people from diverse and multicultural backgrounds to have a voice.
“I believe that by copying nature and developing forest-based production systems, we can produce higher quality products and create more jobs, while promoting biodiversity and absorbing CO2 emissions.”
Tell Someone Who Cares is an organisation founded by 15-year-old, Holley Somerville Knott, that provides an alternative to products containing palm oil. With a deep value for sustainability, Holley provides customers with the opportunity to create change with their everyday purchases. She believes that small decisions can have a big impact.
"I genuinely believe that a diverse workforce is a more effective and interesting workforce. I am an advocate for diversity."
Hollie Broekman is the Manager for Technology Project Services at FourQuarters Recruitment. Through her work, she is contributing to the technological transformation of Australian businesses and their growth in the highly competitive technology and finance sectors.
“The work we do matters, simply because people matter. And people matter regardless of their age or perceived value to the community.”
With people over 70 soon to comprise a quarter of our population, there is an urgent need for aged-care specialists. Jani Baker leads the customer innovation and brand function of ACH Group, a not-for-profit that responds to the needs of disadvantaged pensioners, veterans and war widows who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
“We treat clients and their families as individual stories, and we provide them the long-term care that is necessary for recovery to occur.”
At the crux of her mission, Janice Maree Ablett, founder of The Ice Meltdown Project, has saved lives of people with mental health or addiction issues in Australia. Using her experience as an enrolled nurse, Janice created detox programs and mental health plans with the help of doctors and psychologists.
“By connecting students to global innovation cities, we provide them with relevant entrepreneurship education straight from the source.”
Empowering and educating the next generation of leaders, Jeanette Cheah has a long term vision. As Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of The Hacker Exchange, Jeanette connects young leaders with opportunities and networks in innovation capitals around the world.
“Most of the work I am truly proud of centres around transformation - having a clear vision of what we are trying to achieve, strong determination and resilience, as well as the ability to identify, navigate and overcome obstacles.”
Jennifer Williams is the Chief Marketing Officer and part of the senior executive team at Compare the Market, an insurance, energy and personal finance comparison service. She has been tasked with transforming the business into a truly customer-centric operation by diversifying interactions and building long-standing relationships with customers.
“I believe making a difference starts by taking every opportunity possible to meet new people and being the change you want to see in others.”
Jessica Ireland is passionate about representing the younger generation in discussion of community issues. She is President of the Karratha Young Professionals, board member of the Karratha District Chamber of Commerce and a Sales Executive at real estate agent LJ Hooker. In all her roles, Jessica aims to offer her expertise to the community.
“Our mission is to simplify every element of private health insurance for our members.”
Jessica Lyons recognised that private health insurance was complex and there was a need to demystify and simplify the process. She now leads Healthcare Insurance Limited, a not-for-profit that ensures all premiums stay within the organisation.
“I am driven to support, promote, inspire and encourage women in business to be the best version of themselves.”
Jo Burston is the CEO of Inspiring Rare Birds, a purpose-driven organisation that nurtures women on their business journey of entrepreneurship. Trying to break the pattern of entrepreneurship being a male-dominated field, Jo holds a vision to give every woman the opportunity to achieve her goals of starting her own business.
“Invest time, effort and money in those around you and this will help you achieve your own goals and dreams.”
Driven by her passion to empower those around her, Jodie Silvester founded her accounting firm, KAS Accounting Solutions, in Kununurra in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. Jodie provides individuals, businesses and not-for-profit organisations with the best possible financial guidance, which would have otherwise been unavailable within a remote area.
“We bring together teams of smart, driven and diverse people who are passionate about making a difference. I’m proud to lead projects that will improve outcomes for all Australians.”
With a background in software engineering and defence, Julie Bance is no stranger to successfully navigating male-dominated industries. As General Manager of Service Delivery at Projects Assured, her strong technical leadership and long-term vision has enabled her to successfully implement next-generation technology that will enhance Australia’s national security.
“Our vision is to become the go-to agency for organisations wishing to produce brilliant brands, to be admired in the marketplace, and respected by industry.”
As the Founder and Director of Algo Mas, an established graphic design and communications studio, Julie Wrobel partners with clients to effectively communicate their products, services and messages to their target audience. She strives to produce 'something more' – a business philosophy she adheres to in everything she does.
“We help people see beyond their circumstances and recognise their potential by designing strategies to steer their own lives and activate their full potential.”
As a proud Torres Strait Islander woman, Julie-Ann Lambourne created enVision Group to deliver meaningful and creative solutions for individuals, communities, business and government. The company uses technology to build programs that instil and build hope, so people can see beyond circumstances and reach their individual potential.
“Our vision is to positively impact people through moving images that ultimately influence people’s lives for the better, on a global scale.”
Executive Producer and co-owner with her husband of visual content company, Screencraft, Justine Fardell’s vision is to create engaging content that produces results as well as raises awareness of important issues. With a background in journalism, public relations and the public sector, she is well equipped for her mission.
“I am committed to creating a strong and connected community, creating a liveable city, and being environmentally sustainable.”
As the Manager of Information Services at the City of Charles Sturt, Karin Mahoney participates in shaping quality of life for the local community. Leading the ongoing development and maintenance of IT-related services and infrastructure, she has been able to foster a sense of belonging for the community.
“My goal is to halt the current trajectory of rising Diabetes and obesity, and empower Australians to achieve optimal health through a balanced, whole-food diet. As a nation, we will lead by example to change the landscape of global public health.”
Dietitian, exercise physiologist and diabetes educator with more than 15 years’ experience, Kate Save developed Be Fit Food - a scientifically formulated ready-made meal service - with bariatric surgeon Geoffrey Draper. Packed with vegetables, no added sugar, low in carbs and high in protein, the meals help alleviate chronic disease and promote long term health.
“We are taking a proactive role in educating small business owners, helping them grow their business and meet their goals.”
Katherine Haines, Director of KHB Bookkeeping, aims to make decisions easier for small business owners. She provides quality bookkeeping and business advisory services, which helps reduce administration needs for their clients.
"To meet the rising energy demand in the most socially, environmentally, and economically responsible way, we need to unlock the full power of innovation, the capacity to do things differently and better than before."
During an international career that took her across Europe, to Nigeria and eventually Australia, Katie Whittle has spent 24 years at Shell in a variety of engineering roles and has worked throughout the full project lifecycle from initiation to asset operation. In her current role, she develops business cases for new development projects.
“We believe every person has the right to be and feel safe.”
As CEO of Zonta House Refuge Association, Kelda Oppermann provides support, advocacy, accommodation and education programs for women and families who have experienced family and domestic violence. Her long term vision is to help cultivate a safe and equitable community.
“To be happy, you need someone to love, something to look forward to, and something to do, such as work. As a leader, its my job to make the ‘work’ part great.”
Founder and Director of Recovery Partners, Kelly Brown is committed to assisting organisations avoid the financial and human cost of injury. We make a positive impact to society by returning people to work and building systems to keep workers safe. To achieve this mission, Kelly and the team focus on three strategic priorities: people, quality and customers.
“Being the person who inspires our team to do better than what they believed was possible is what I strive for every day.”
South-African-born, Kim Wethmar is the CEO of TravelEdge Group, a travel provider that aims to make every journey an exceptional one. Since taking on the role in 2015, Kim has helped to reshape the business, increasing turnover and doubling profit year on year.
“Through a combination of my work as a lawyer and my volunteer work in the community, I have found my purpose in life. That purpose is helping people”.
Kimberley Martin’s career in the traditionally male-dominated profession of law has been anything but uneventful. As one of three directors at Worrall Moss Martin Lawyers, a firm that specialises in private client work, Kimberley’s core practice is providing specialist advice and developing client-specific solutions in estate planning and related fields.
“Through our focus on nature, sustainability and diversity, Pachamama’s children learn to respect themselves, others and the world.”
Director of Pachamama, an innovative early education centre, Kristen McPhail’s goal is to redefine the paradigm of early education and childcare. Her mission is to create extraordinary creative environments where the seeds of diversity and confidence are planted so children can grow up thriving.
“I am passionate about driving results by leading thriving and sustainable organisations that are trusted and valued by the community and key stakeholders.”
Kylah Morrison represents and advocates for the unique needs and aspirations of local businesses. As CEO of the Karratha and Districts Chamber of Commerce and Industry, she provides high quality support and business advocacy for more than 400 members.
“In a male dominated field, I strive to provide a genuine and honest security service to our local and wider communities.”
In 2005, Kylie Butchard co-created Pacific Security Group - taking on a male-dominated security field to create a business that is balanced of both male and female subcontractors. Now as Owner and Managing Director, Kylie has spent the past four years rebuilding and re-imagining the business.
“My goal is to enable each person we support to live the life they choose. We do this by helping them rejoin the workforce, master everyday tasks and access useful community services.”
MatchWorks is a community-based, not-for-profit employment service, connecting employers to job seekers. Recognising the employment barriers for people who have mental illnesses or disabilities, Kylie van Luyn, State Manager for NSW and ACT, aims to cultivate inclusive and diverse services.
“We want to lead technological change within organisations across the globe, and ultimately discover how work environments can be better.”
Lauren Crystal co-founded Your Creative, a full service creative agency that focuses on human-centred design and development. Becoming frustrated by the multiple tools it took to get business done, she co-created Hassl, a project collaboration tool that streamlines every day workflow, and is now recognised internationally.
“Representing the female minority in my industry, it’s my responsibility to ignite change and break the glass ceiling in technology to pave the way for our future generations.”
Lauren Hall is Founder and Chief Executive of iVvy, an award-winning software service technology company, providing enterprise solutions to the hospitality industry globally. With more than 25 years’ experience, Lauren has been recognised as a global leader, innovator and disruptor, having built five multimillion dollar companies.
“One of my core drivers is to create a workplace where people feel valued, part of a team, part of something bigger and in a supportive and encouraging environment.”
After an unsettling encounter with workplace bullying in a previous role, Lauren Lowe resolved to cultivate a workplace nothing short of supportive, dynamic and warm. As the Co-Founder and Operations Director of Future Fitouts, a commercial fitout firm, she continues to invest in her team to ensure unparalleled growth and support.
“We aim to provide our customers with a special and personalised experience unique to our rural location.”
Leah Sloan is joint Director of Berry Springs Tavern, a food and entertainment destination in rural Northern Territory. She aims to create a comfortable, clean, safe and friendly dining experience where customer satisfaction is her highest priority.
“Success is not attributed to one person, but to communities who work together to achieve a goal.”
As the Chief Executive Officer for the North East Support and Action for Youth (NESAY), Leah Waring leads a team of dedicated professionals to support young people who are experiencing homelessness, family breakdown, school disengagement and other vulnerabilities.
“ I want to use my expertise and influence to affect positive change for the community and the environment, and to inspire other procurement professionals to be agents of social change."
Leanne Hill is the Strategic Procurement Manager at the Melbourne Water Corporation. Her role is vital in enhancing community wellbeing, underpinning human health, supporting economic growth and balancing our natural and man-made environment. She sets policies and new directions, embedding diversity and inclusion within the procurement process.
“It’s fulfilling to see our clients achieve their goals, while also being able to see the tangible positive social impact we’ve made.”
Leanne O'Connor is the founder and director of the Natural Selection Group, a socially responsible IT sourcing and contractor management service. They offer a comprehensive end-to-end recruitment service across specialised areas of the IT sector. Leanne strives to ensure that all engagements have a social purpose and benefit.
“My mission is to create better outcomes for communities through safer workplaces within the mining sector, and improving the quality of life for the people of the Central Coast.”
Working at the NSW Department of Planning and Environment, Lee Shearer is responsible for regulating the mining industry and driving the delivery of the Central Coast Regional Plan. Lee promotes community and industry confidence in the NSW mining and extractive industry by delivering a regulatory approach that is accountable and transparent.
“I want to continue to break down the typical stereotypes of the motoring industry and male-dominated roles, while growing the business, employing locals and building the community.”
A strong advocate for female empowerment, Leonie Knipe is making a difference. In the male-dominated automotive industry, Leonie’s mission is to establish Avon Valley Toyota as the leading car dealerships for female car-buyers. As the first female Dealer Principal for Nissan in Western Australia, Leonie takes an inclusive approach in the way she directs the dealerships.
“I relish in creativity and innovation and believe that is the way businesses break new ground.”
Lidia Conci first began her career as a speech pathologist, with a growing passion for rehabilitation and treating clients with a swallowing disorder. She ventured out on her own with a mobile clinic for 10 years before establishing AvantiCare, an allied health and wellbeing service for the elderly.
“It’s important we empower others, especially women, to believe in themselves and their ability.”
Linda Sim is the Chief Executive Officer, Academic Director and Co-Owner of Niche Education Group. Offering courses and training in the beauty, health and cosmetic medical field, she provides hope and a future for many young people.
“The way we communicate with our customers is always with honesty and integrity and I believe this is reflected in everything that we do.”
Lindi Mcmahon is the owner of homewares and gift store, Hope and Me. As she expands the interior and home styling arms of her business, dedication towards customer satisfaction and providing unique products are paramount to her success.
“It is not just about getting on a motorcycle and riding today, the world is a busier place with more happening on the roads. We need to ride defensively and I prepare my students thoroughly for that.”
In her role as owner and managing director of The Top End & Red Centre Motorcycle Skills Trainer, Lisa Cornell-Hewlett teaches budding riders how to drive safely and defensively. Knowing how stressful that first solo ride can be, she accompanies motorcyclists on their first on-road ride to give them the confidence to keep going.
“I hope to build a progressive business that is recognised as the go-to brand for those who want to transform the way we live, learn, work and play.”
As the CEO of Lotus, a manufacturer of acoustic, bespoke and custom building materials, Liz Jones is responsible for the sustainability and profitability of the business. Liz has navigated the business through cultural change and business improvement, and is committed to ensuring Lotus is a human-centred, customer-centric and progressive business.
“The idea that you should “buy once, buy less and buy well” is a welcome change from the over-supplied, waste-heavy practices of some of the large global retailers.”
With a passion for design and quality, Lucy Given, Owner of LUC Homewares and Design, transitions high-end environments from feeling inaccessible and intimidating to a warm and friendly atmosphere. Endorsing her “buy one, buy less, buy well” mantra, Lucy doesn’t just sell products, but experiences and conversations.
“As a hands-on learner, the secret to my success is keeping it real, never getting caught up in self-importance and always remembering my values.”
UK-born Lucy O’Flaherty is CEO of Glenview Community Services Inc, a Tasmanian aged care provider of residential, community, independent living, day centre and respite services. With aged care undergoing historic and complex reforms, she is active in helping to create the vision for the sector now and into the future.
“An ongoing commitment and willingness to review and modify products to suit the constantly evolving demands of discerning end-user customers has kept us in the forefront of our clients’ minds.”
Two decades ago, when Lyn Bentley founded Sticky Fingers, it was only meant to be a small home-based business making tomato relish to sell at local and country markets. Lyn has since transformed the business to supply handmade sauces and condiments to the food-service sector locally and internationally.
“My vision is to provide a workplace that offers employees meaningful and fulfilling work that is genuinely flexible.”
Aspiring accountant turned marketing consultant extraordinaire, Purple Giraffe’s CEO, Lynda Schenk, never shies away from a challenge. An innovative thinker, her vision for a successful company has always been to prioritise her staff and clients. Lynda prides herself on the flexible, dedicated and progressive organisation that she continues to evolve.
“We work tirelessly every day to ensure that young people growing up with caring responsibilities have access to the childhood that every child deserves. I am incredibly proud of the work that we do.”
Striving to make others’ lives better, Madeleine Buchner built Little Dreamers, a not-for-profit organisation that aims to support the community of 490,000 young carers across Australia. Growing up as a carer for her mother and brother, Madeleine’s passion for helping others comes from the heart - and from experience.
“Supporting people to regain function and achieve their dreams after illness or injury, and helping people with disability find and maintain meaningful work, is why I created my businesses.”
Determined and compassionate, Marcella Romero has, over the past two decades, created two businesses Rehab Management and AimBig Employment that have made a difference to people’s lives. From humble beginnings, Marcella has grown her businesses to 300 staff across 96 offices nationally.
“I’m a firm believer that you do not need to be a qualified psychologist to step in and save a person’s life, and therefore we can all play an active role in helping others to thrive and be their best.”
Margo Lydon is the Chief Executive Officer of SuperFriend, a mental health initiative established by the Superfund industry. It works to prevent suicide and reduce the prevalence of mental illness in Australia’s workplaces, through a range of evidence-based solutions including training programs, resources, insights and events.
“I use my personal and professional experience to create systemic and sustainable change for families across Australia whose babies have died.”
As the Tasmanian Coordinator of Bears of Hope Pregnancy and Infant Loss Support, Maria has spent the past 10 years creating change. Maria has spent her time helping bereaved families across Australia to reintegrate into society by coordinating the provision of exceptional medical, psychological and emotional care.
“We positively influence the lives of children, young people and families - in many cases working alongside them from crisis to a better future.”
Maria Palumbo is the CEO of Junction, a growing and innovative non-denominational social enterprise supporting around 8,500 South Australians a year through affordable housing and community services. With a strong focus on community development, she works to empower individuals and families and create safe, connected and resilient neighbourhoods that contribute to thriving communities.
“By providing our podiatry services as a mobile business, we’re helping solve the issue of elderly or disabled clients being unable to access healthcare due to transport and mobility limitations.”
Mary-Ellen Redmayne founded The Foot Stop Podiatry Services, while she was a stay-at-home-mum to provide extra income to her family. What started as a weekend job is now a successful mobile practice that brings its services to around 200 patients’ homes in Southern Brisbane, Gold Coast, Tweed Coast and Northern Rivers areas weekly.
“My most important role is as a coach and mentor as I believe in two-way dialogues to build trust, constructive working relationships and a culture of positivity and profitability.”
Maryanne Campbell-Hand has dedicated her career to the quick-service restaurant industry; starting at 15 and working for arguably the two biggest fast-food retailers in the world: McDonald’s and KFC. She became a KFC Owner and Franchisee in 2012 and has since been responsible for six restaurants in South Australia.
“We provide a safe place for people to come and learn to dance, as well as a hub for independent dance artists to create, train and improve their skills.”
Inspired by her love of dancing, Meg Cooper created Mad Dance House to help everyone enjoy dancing, regardless of their ability or experience. She firmly believes in the importance of dance to a healthy society and is committed to maintaining a safe space for people of all levels.
“Isolation of sick children from their school community and peers can have profoundly harmful and lifelong consequences for their academic, social and emotional wellbeing. This is what we’re solving.”
MissingSchool was born in 2012 when Megan Gilmour and two other mothers came together after their children survived critical and life-threatening illnesses. They knew that maintaining connection with school during this difficult time would offer the children a sense of normality and allow them to keep up-to-date with their education.
“I’m always focused on adding value to my clients, creating powerful memories that connect brand value with commercial outcomes.”
Melissa Dunbar is in the business of creating moments, that have lasting memories. As Principal and Founder of Big Fish Events Group, she leads her team to deliver high-quality events in Adelaide and Melbourne. She has delivered considerable events both small and large, simple and complex, including the Special Olympics Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
“I want to provide trusted, quality resources and support to empower vulnerable people in our community to access stress-free solutions enabling them to live their lives their way.”
Michelle Jenkins is the Chief Executive Officer of Community Vision, a not-for-profit community service that challenges the way aged care and disability services are delivered. Through her work, she is inspired to create a stronger and more connected community.
“The talent we have here in Australia is high quality and forward thinking. To enable people to flourish, we need to ensure our leading industries are creating workplaces where Australian talent wants to be.”
With over 70 hackathon events under her belt, Melbourne’s Hackathon Queen, Michelle Mannering, has the vision to drive innovation across organisations, cultures, and cities. Her business, MishManners, facilitates hackathons, workshops and professional development opportunities to help companies and organisations develop their innovation strategies to stay at the top of their industries.
“Our vision is to provide a place of comfort, hope and love for seriously ill children and their families.”
With the mission of providing a place of comfort, hope and love for sick children and their families, Michelle McCormack has led the team at Ronald McDonald House to raise more than $1.9 million funding in the past four years. The program provides accommodation to families who live far away from hospital.
“I really enjoy sharing my knowledge and experience with others, it is such a wonderful feeling to help someone. In my view, we don't just manage property, we provide homes.”
A commitment to maintain ethics and act with integrity are just some of Michelle Williams’ core values. As the director of @home Property Management, she is challenging the norm in the real estate world through nurturing a deeper customer relationship and eliminating antiquated systems of the past.
“Buying and selling properties is stressful enough, even without all the hassle of legal requirements. Our team is focused on helping you through it.”
Mikala Fair is the Head of Sales and Marketing for the LadyBird Group. As the face of the organisation, her role is to develop relationships with key influencers and partners, and ensure the buying or selling process for clients is as seamless as possible.
“I try to lead a life of example to others, most notably to my nine-year-old son. Coming to Australia as an immigrant from Poland, I am teaching my son that we all bear a responsibility to give back to our community and country.”
Monika has more than 20 years of experience in communications, stakeholder relationship management, media and marketing. She runs a pro bono marketing consultancy, which assists small businesses with their social media strategies and volunteers at Story Dogs WA.
“We celebrate all women, regardless of their shape, size, ability or stage of life.”
As the Founder and Director of online activewear brand, Active Truth, Nadia Tucker has built her company based on inclusivity, positivity and fun. With her business partner Stevie Angel, the pair were inspired to launch Active Truth after going through pregnancy and finding it challenging to find new activewear.
“I want to see task-focused traditional aged-care models replaced by inclusive dementia-friendly communities that concentrate on relationship-based care and services, where residents can feel at home.”
As Founder and CEO of NewDirection Care Bellmere, Natasha Chadwick has been pioneering a new direction in aged care for the past seven years. She has created a world class micro-town residential community for the elderly and those living with younger onset dementia and complex care needs.
“With respect and dignity, we give people control of their lives so they can be the architects of their own destiny. We treat people like family, even when their own family can't.”
Wyngate Care provides direct care and outreach to the elderly and people with disabilities, mental health issues, and substance abuse issues. Having proudly overcome her own personal disadvantages and now working with the most vulnerable members of society, Director of Wyngate Care, Nicole Doherty, is empathetic, resilient and dedicated.
“We provide a place not only for children to thrive but also for our wider community to learn acceptance, tolerance, understanding and the beauty in those who are different.”
Noni Vassos has devoted her life to performance and creativity. Working the majority of her adult life in theatre management, Noni cultivated teaching abilities that could be used for the greater good. Now as the Founder of Rockit Performing Arts, she teaches dance and drama to improve health in the community.
“Everything I do ensures that Fishburners startups are creating jobs, revenue or raising investment. This is brought together in the vision I set and is the driving force behind everything we do.”
Striving to help entrepreneurs start, grow and scale their business, Pandora Shelley is the CEO of the non-profit co-working space, Fishburners. She provides a support system and community around entrereneurs within three central hubs in Sydney, Brisbane and Shanghai.
“In iGoDirect, I've actioned my ethics. I've developed a sustainable business with strong financial performance while creating space for innovation by hiring and supporting the best people, regardless of their gender, culture, religion or sexuality.”
Small-town country girl turned Chief Executive Officer, Pat Dalton has followed her ambitious imagination to successfully found iGoDirect. Dedicated to providing highly targeted integrated marketing campaigns across digital and traditional platforms, Pat is an advocate for doing things differently to achieve the results you desire.
“The conservation of the World Heritage-listed Fremantle Prison is key to its ongoing success as a national visitor attraction and community asset.”
Paula Nelson is the first woman in nearly 170 years to manage Fremantle Prison, the only World Heritage attraction in Perth. As Director, Paula is responsible for delivering conservation strategies for the former prison and its artefacts, as well as tourism opportunities and educational experiences.
“Whether it’s innovative apartments or master-planned communities, our business is all about creating great, accessible places to live that excite and inspire our investors, partners and most of all, our residents.”
Penelope Forrest’s purpose is aligned with the ‘Great Australian Dream’: to help Australians own their own home. As Peet's Development Director for ACT, Penelope is responsible for conjuring new ways to minimise development costs so Australians have more affordable housing opportunities.
“My vision has always been to arrange a safe haven for people who are in need and assist them in realising their dreams.”
Petra Playfair was the first female entrepreneur to set up an immigration practice in Australia 30 years ago. Initially built to represent executives and private individuals, Petra’s goal is now also to provide refugees with a safe haven in Australia. Playfair is split equally between corporate and humanitarian work.
“My commitment to evidence-based multi-disciplinary clinical trials research aims to make a difference to the lives of First Nations people, particularly the children.”
As the Principal Senior Research Fellow of Menzies School of Health Research, Professor Amanda Leach has a passion for Aboriginal health research. Menzies is Australia’s leading medical research institute dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
“I am building a strong and effective interface between science, medicine and industry to improve Australia’s record in translating medical innovations.”
As CEO and Director of Research at Australia’s Translational Research Institute, Carolyn Mountford is spearheading Australia’s effort to improve the rate of innovative research translated into enhanced healthcare outcomes. With an impressive academic resume stretching from Oxford to Harvard, Carolyn is revolutionising Australia’s delivery of medical products into the global health sector.
“I'm motivated by making a difference using the skills I have. Engineers solve human problems using their mastery of science and maths. I am, always have been, and always will be an engineer.”
As the Dean of the Australian National University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, Professor Elanor Huntington is responsible for a community of 3,000 scholars. She leads Reimagine, a project aimed at reinventing the global role of engineering and computing, necessitating a tripling in scale of her College.
“I am passionate about making a difference in cancer care to improve the mortality and survival outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”
Professor Gail Garvey is a Kamilaroi woman and Senior Principal Research Fellow at Menzies School of Health Research, specialising in cancer research. Menzies is Australia’s leading medical research institute dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
“By maintaining the high quality of our educational offerings, exploring new ways for learners to engage, and embracing technology as a medium for education, we can achieve inclusivity and accessibility.”
As Deputy Dean in the Faculty of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences at the University of Adelaide, Katrina Falkner’s main focus is innovation. Equipped with a background deeply rooted in scientific research, Katrina is no stranger to problem-solving. As such, her current position allows her to continue disrupting the education sector.
“Knowledge drives progress in healthcare, improves clinical decision making and ultimately leads to improved health outcomes.”
With more than two million academic and scientific research papers published every year, it takes decades for the results of research to make it into policy and practice. Zoe Jordan leads The Joanna Briggs Institute to help synthesise research and make it easy to implement into health systems internationally.
“We are the only breast cancer charity in Australia that focuses on, and specialises in, raising awareness about breast cancer in young women specifically.”
Being diagnosed with breast cancer at 32 changed Rachelle Panitz’s life and was the catalyst for her to start the So Brave Breast Cancer Fundraiser Project. As Founder and CEO, Rachelle’s sole mission is to empower young breast cancer survivors, while educating and funding research into young women being diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Being a part of Tasmania's growing reputation for producing world-class wine and food, it is important that we are able to make premium quality wines that add to and enhance this reputation.”
Rebecca Duffy had aspired to become a winemaker from a young age. After training and working in the industry for more than a decade, she took over the lease of Holm Oak Vineyards. Since 2006, Rebecca has led the business through exponential growth, increasing sales from 1,200 cases a year to 15,000.
“I am passionate about helping businesses succeed and empowering them to make informed choices regarding their digital strategies. I focus on demystifying the digital landscape and become a success partner for our clients.”
Renae Lunjevich believes in the bigger picture as Managing Director of Bang Digital. Spreading their skills from marketing across to alternative services such as customer relationship management tools, Bang Digital is becoming part of the wider solution for businesses.
“My approach to business is disruptive. I focus on looking at ways to do things better, faster, smarter, easier. I have built success through trial and error. I’m not afraid to take risks and approach business with guts and determination.”
A decade ago, Renece Brewster spotted an opportunity to create TV-quality video for the web. With her business partner, Daniel Goldstein, she created Visual Domain, with the goal to disrupt the traditional agency model and create professional video content for a fraction of the price. As CEO, she now leads a team of 100.
“We determine our own rules and standards by setting the bar high so we become the benchmark others are measured against.”
Renee Wingfield has been Company and Creative Director of performing arts company, Fliptease, for the past 12 years. She is on a mission to continue to find unexpected and innovative alternative entertainment elements, offering bespoke aerial performances, water installations and circus spectacles.
“As technology continues to transform our world, algorithms and other forms of data analytics will continue to grow in importance.”
As a passionate advocate for opening government doors to the public, River Paul works to empower decision makers, both in households and businesses. Through her role as Chief Economist and Statistician at the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA), she provides insight about the economy of the future. Award collected by Joanna Stone on behalf of River Paul.
“My team and I exist to make it as easy as possible for small businesses to start and grow in NSW. Part of our solution is undertaking a deep dive into how to make government processes simpler.”
As the NSW Small Business Commissioner, Robyn Hobbs helps small businesses overcome obstacles to achieve success. Robyn acts as an independent advocate for small businesses, working with government to improve processes and change policies to promote growth. Robyn’s team also provides free advice and mediation services to thousands of businesses.
“Education is my passion and as a long-life learner myself, I believe the experience a student receives from their educator makes all the difference to their journey."
In her role, Robyn Littlejohn supports 78 teachers across 11 program areas and 24 courses, to deliver the best possible learning experience for students. After working as a business teacher herself, she knows the importance of having the necessary tools, skills, industry knowledge and compliance to deliver quality training to those who come through her doors.
“We support Australian employers to minimise illegal and inappropriate conduct in the workplace - including bullying, discrimination and sexual harassment - and to build a positive culture.”
Rose Bryant-Smith had a vision of helping employers build productive, ethical and safe workplaces. Since she established Worklogic in 2007, it has grown from a traditional advisory firm, to a thought-leader in workplace ethics and team dynamics, with national operations.
"Retailing is about offering compelling solutions to busy shoppers and enriching their shopping experience through programs that excite them.”
As the Proprietor of White’s Grocers, Roz White has led the once small convenience store into a group of national supermarkets, growing her team from three to 300 employees. She has steered her business to success by identifying and creating new business opportunities and providing strategic vision and direction.
“By providing the highest level of care and therapy, we give people the safety and confidence to engage deeply in healing opportunities. They grow in strength and health and rediscover joy and hope.”
Mental health and addiction are a public health crisis in Australia, yet there is still a lot of silence and misunderstanding regarding these areas. In response, Ruth Limkin started The Banyans, a social enterprise providing therapeutic treatments to people suffering from chronic stress, depression, anxiety, substance misuse, dependency, trauma or eating disorders.
“I have an incredible opportunity to teach people vital skills that will help them adapt and thrive in a technology-saturated future. It’s about building confidence, communication, and entrepreneurial and problem-solving skills.”
As General Manager of Coder Academy, Sally Browner is dedicated to solving problems and building on the positives that digital disruption brings. This includes upskilling people aged 5-95 in vital technical skills delivered in an innovative, evidence-based and agile fashion, and providing free coding sessions for women.
“We provide an enormous amount of information, training and support for board members, or aspiring members, to enable them to better govern their organisations.”
Sally Leake is the State Manager for the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Her position sees her improving governance knowledge of board directors and senior executives, leading to better outcomes for organisations, and in turn, the Australian economy and society.
“We aim to make financial advice less intimidating and more accessible for millennials. Adopting a lifestyle approach to advice; we engage our members by using everyday language and focus on identifying goals that will help achieve their dreams.”
Beginning her career in banking and financial services at the age of 20, Sam Robinson envisioned an advice offering like no other: a business centred around providing advice to millennial Australians. In 2014, she established her financial advice business, Pursue Wealth, with the goal to disrupt the myth that financial advice is only for the wealthy.
“We have been there, we understand, and we are making huge headway in supporting couples through miscarriage across Australia.”
Inspired by her own experience of heartbreak and isolation through miscarriage, Samantha Payne created The Pink Elephants Support Network. She aims to support, nurture and empower couples through early pregnancy loss. Samantha recently launched a personalised peer support service, providing a vital connection with another woman who has experienced an early miscarriage.
“My vision for the business is to address the critical health shortage for local residents by attracting health businesses to come and deliver essential services to Nhulunbuy.”
Nhulunby-born and bred, Sarah Fincham-Thomson operates Arnhem Allied Health Services in an area with a critical lack of health services. It’s a challenge, which only intensified from a weakening local economy and the recent closure of the community’s sole medical practice.
“Connecting communities and creatives through art that often goes unnoticed, unheard and unrecognized, is the vision that underpins everything we do.”
As Owner and Sole Operator of her art gallery, The Culprit Club, Sarah Hazlehurst has aspired to curate opportunities and purpose for all artistic mediums, without restriction or regulation of creative expression. Since launching the business in July 2016, Sarah has supported more than 200 artists through her exhibitions and events.
“This role allows me to add value to society in a range of ways, including helping people contribute, find work, and feel better about themselves, all while serving Australia’s national interest.”
Sarah Lowe is ManpowerGroup’s Director of Recruiting Services for the Defence Force. Her role sees her embedded in the public-private recruitment collaboration between the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and ManpowerGroup. Directly responsible for sourcing 7,500 recruits each year, Sarah’s team delivers recruitment of all military positions for the Army, Navy and Air Force.
“We give women the understanding and the confidence to look and feel their best. I believe we have created a space where women can be themselves in an industry that historically hasn’t been as welcoming.”
Owner of blow-dry bar, Saloon Co, Sarah Wright is on a mission to empower women. Supporting the strength of women, her services allow female clients to reclaim their identity through easily accessible and customisable hair and beauty services. Saloon is making a major impact, and Sarah is only just getting started.
“My vision is to contribute towards a future where women embrace their strengths, are inspired and fulfilled by their work, and collaborate equally with men in the spirit of oneness.”
Driven by a single belief that all women deserve the opportunity to overcome workplace challenges and self-limiting beliefs, Shadé Zahrai, co-founder of Influenceo Group, brings psychology and neuroscience research to life through actionable strategies to help young women reach their full potential and better navigate change.
“Creating an environment where staff can feel included and contribute towards business performance, while maintaining job security is a significant achievement.”
With an ethical approach to business, Soo Loh empowers her team at APC Cleaning to cultivate an inclusive workplace and invest in relationships with clients. Outside of providing high-quality service and delivering clean and hygienic environments, Soo aims to provide employees local job opportunities and security, with work-life balance.
“I think global and act local. The decisions I make today not only help to run a successful business, but also create a healthy business environment for working parents.”
CEO Sophie Costanzo’s vision to be the best Australian hand and upper limb surgical and therapy service underpins The Hand + Upper Limb Centre’s provision of excellence in hand, wrist and arm surgery. She recognises that healthy limbs are a vital component in fostering a functioning and positive life.
"I hope to inspire anyone around me to be a better person, and to deliver the work we set out to do."
In a rapidly changing industry, the need for constant improvements and innovation is a priority for Stacey Pennicott. As Executive General Manager of RACT, she ensures saving lives on the roads and improving people's access to services is successfully balanced with the heritage of the business.
“My commitment to being a lifelong learner, and my long, well-documented history of building successful businesses, puts me in the best position to be a vocal advocate for women business owners.”
Suzi Dafnis is the Chief Executive Officer of HerBusiness, a collaborative and supportive community that educates, mentors, and influences women entrepreneurs across Australia and increasingly, the world. Reducing barriers to accessing support, training and connections is a key focus for Suzi.
“We individualise the recruiting process, ensuring the correct match is made every time.”
Founder and Director of recruitment agency, Celotti Workforce, Suzie Celotti is a professional matchmaker for businesses and candidates. Striving to make a difference in their candidate’s lives, Suzie and her team connect candidates to jobs for life.
“Seeing months of hard work coming to fruition, as well as the excitement of clients made me truly realise that when passion, purpose, resilience and community combine, we can achieve great things.”
As Program Manager at The Van Diemen Project, Talitha Devadass creates spaces for deep conversation, connection and diversity. Her purpose is to help new and existing businesses in Tasmania thrive. Weighing idealism with cheques and balances, she brings her clients’ ideas to life.
“I launched the business in 2016 after ten years of planning. It was an enormous learning curve, but I’m glad to now be able to give back and share my knowledge with other agencies.”
Coming from a small rural town, Tameka Smith learnt from a very young age that only hard work would take her to where she wanted to be. After 12 years spent rising through the ranks of the property industry, she started Key 2 Property, a business that expanded quickly and now counts 300 rental properties in its portfolio.
“I’m looking to motivate and inspire other women in the building industry and create opportunities for their growth.”
Tarrsha Watkins is the Managing Director of Protek 24/7, a commercial building and maintenance company. As a female in the traditionally male-dominated building industry, Tarrsha is dedicated to creating lasting opportunities and support for her employees.
"The CIO portfolio is enabling Monash to fundamentally change the way it delivers education, conducts research, and digitally transforms its business to make an even bigger impact around the world."
With both her parents emigrating from Italy with limited schooling, Teresa Finlayson has always recognised the power of education. This has led her to her current role as Deputy Chief Information Officer at Monash University, where she delivers large-scale technology projects to improve staff and student experiences.
“I am passionate about social change. I want to make a difference in the world in which my daughters grow. I want it to be ordinary that women hold leadership roles not extraordinary like it is today.”
As the Chief Executive Officer of AFL Tasmania, Trisha was the first woman to be appointed at this level in the AFL. She plays an integral role in the direction of the sport in Tasmania, in particular, game development, state and community leagues, talent pathways, partnerships and the AFLW.
“Australians deserve a credit repair service that is high quality and affordable, one that combines integrity with ingenuity and truly helps.”
Starting with no income, no substantial capital and only a computer in her son's bedroom, Victoria Coster worked tirelessly to build Credit Fix Solutions. She created the business to help customers and their families improve their financial future.
“We are committed to changing the conversation and reducing the stigma surrounding mental health and addiction. We consistently tell the story of hope and the potential for change.”
As Chief Executive Officer of Sunrise Way Rehabilitation Limited, Wendy Agar is committed to leaving a positive footprint on rural Queensland. Having overcome postnatal depression after the birth of her third son, Wendy focuses her energy on leading an organisation that rebuilds the lives of people impacted by mental illness and addiction.