The 2017 Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year is Violet Roumeliotis, of Settlement Services International Limited (SSI).

As CEO of SSI, Ms Roumeliotis utilises her strong business acumen and experience gained in leadership roles, within major not-for-profits over the past 30 years.

In her role since 2012, Roumeliotis has grown SSI’s revenue from $9 million to $110 million over the past four years. And, in the last 18 months, they have assisted 1185 people to gain employment. A three-year pilot of SSI’s Ignite Small Business Start-ups initiative helped 66 refugees successfully establish a business, and the majority of participants to move off Centrelink payments.

Violet didn’t have a typical upbringing. From humble beginnings, the daughter of migrants decided she was going to change her future, and the futures of others in the same circumstances. Her vision is to give a voice to vulnerable Australians and raise awareness of the economic value of migration.

“Violet has demonstrated resilience and ingenuity in finding new revenue streams to keep the mission alive and make an impact, and has pioneered new initiatives including the Ignite Small Business Start-ups initiative which facilitates entrepreneurship among refugees and asylum seekers,” said Joe Pollard, Telstra Business Women’s Awards Ambassador, Group Executive Media and Chief Marketing Officer.

“Ms Roumeliotis is a leader among leaders in her sector, dedicated to lifting people out of their circumstances of vulnerability and disadvantage.

“Not only is her mission to celebrate human potential inspiring, but she also demonstrates business acumen, with strong financial performance, an adoption of technology, and an astute understanding of competitors,” Ms Pollard said.

Of her Award win, Violet has said, “The Awards give us an opportunity to elevate the narrative around refugees and asylum seekers in Australia. I think I have an obligation through the work that I do, to talk about the lived experience of people and to bring out the humanity, because I know Australians are very generous and good people, they are very supportive.”

The National winners of the 2017 Telstra Business Women’s Award are:

Business Woman in Asia Award: Saskia Groen-in’t-Woud, Damco

Entrepreneur Award: Hana-Lia Krawchuk, Love to Dream

For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award: Violet Roumeliotis, Settlement Services International Limited

Public Sector and Academia Award: Prof Leah Bromfield, Australian Centre for Child Protection at the University of South Australia

Corporate and Private Award: Jennifer Franceschi, Fresh Produce Alliance

Young Business Woman of the Year Award: Elise Apolloni, Capital Chemist Wanniassa

Australian Business Woman of the Year: Violet Roumeliotis, Settlement Services International Limited

If you, or a brilliant business woman you know, deserve recognition nominate today for the 2018 Telstra Business Women’s Awards.