TBWA Winners 2020
Telstra Business Women's Awards |

Congratulations to our 2020 Telstra Business Women’s Awards winners

By Alex Badenoch May 1, 2020

For 25 years, the Telstra Business Women’s Awards have celebrated the success of Australia’s female leaders and entrepreneurs. We’re proud to continue to recognise the exceptional work of women in leadership, to advocate for women in business, to help promote gender equality in the workplace, and to applaud the women who are paving the way for future generations. 

While we had to stop our state and national events due to COVID-19, we’re pleased to be able to introduce you to the Telstra Business Women’s Awards winners for 2020. Every woman on this list has achieved extraordinary results in their field of work and they are all inspiring examples of leaders challenging the status quo within and beyond their industries. Congratulations to our incredible winners. 

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New South Wales 

Dr Sarah Pearce, Deputy Director, Astronomy and Space Science at CSIRO is the 2020 Telstra New South Wales Business Woman of the Year. 

Dr Pearce is a pioneering and internationally recognised physicist, and leads a team of more than 250 astronomers, engineers, technicians, administrative and outreach staff. Dr Pearce also won the Public Sector and Academia award, which recognises women who have dedicated themselves to making an impact in education or public service. 

We commend Dr Pearce for her innovative space programs; she is committed to collaboration, and instead of being out to win, she is dedicated to ensuring she and her team produce the best work possible. 

Also recognised as winners of the 2020 Telstra NSW Business Women’s Awards were: 

  • Small Business Award: Dr. Majeda Awawdeh, Founder and Managing Director, Global Education Academy, a learning centre modeled on her PhD research into cognitive load theory and mathematics education. 
  • Medium and Large Business Award: Katherine McConnell, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Brighte Katherine McConnell is Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Brighte, a rapidly growing financial services company with a predominantly female C-level executive team. 
  • Emerging Leader Award: Courtney Bowie, Founder, Her Lawyer. Breaking away from the common models and stereotypes of law, Ms Bowie has built this legal practice dedicated to empowering ambitious women in business and providing a space for a team of female lawyers to thrive. 
  • For Purpose & Social Enterprise Award: Sarah Hosking, Chief Executive Officer, National Breast Cancer FoundationBreast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in Australia and Sarah Hosking is sharing her passion for finding a cure and delivering the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s strategy for change. 

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Jo Thomas, Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director of contemporary art house Metro Arts, is the 2020 Telstra Queensland Business Woman of the Year. 

Ms Thomas supports and mentors artists to help them realise their creative potential, present their work to audiences and build their careers. Ms Thomas is also the winner of the For Purpose & Social Enterprise Award, which celebrates leaders and employees of organisations making a positive difference to the world around them. 

The arts are a powerful medium to bring about change and influence access, inclusion, participation and outcomes for all. Ms Thomas is a clear and visionary leader who has much to give, not only to the arts sector, but to the future of advancing women in leadership. 

Also recognised as winners of the 2020 Telstra Queensland Business Women’s Awards were: 

  • Small Business Award: Julie Verner-Mackay, Founder and Human Success Director, aXcelerate, a cloud-based student management system. She is passionate about establishing a flexible and positive workplace culture. 
  • Medium & Large Business Award: Yinzhu Quan, Pioneer Lab member, Rio Tinto. Joining Rio Tinto as an engineer, Yinzhu Quan was selected to be one of just six members on its Pioneer Lab – a panel working on 10-20 year-long strategies and new visions for the company. 
  • Public Sector & Academia Award: Jeanette Allom-Hill, Group Executive Business Performance, Sunshine Coast Regional Council. Ms Allom-Hill is responsible for a portfolio including finance, IT, human resources, procurement and property management. She is a values-based leader who is committed, accountable and delivers measurable results. 
  • Emerging Leader: Onica Mhaka, Project Coordinator, Height Dynamics. Ms Mhaka’s passion, vision and leadership has seen Height Dynamics, a safety equipment supplier, achieve great success. 

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Julie Hirsch, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Eloments Natural Vitamin Tea, is the 2020 Telstra Victorian Business Woman of the Year. 

After becoming deputy director of a climate action organisation, Ms Hirsch co-founded Eloments, one of the world’s first natural vitamin teas. Ms Hirsch sources Fairtrade ingredients from around the world, which are blended with nutrient-rich fruit and herbal extracts so that every cup of tea contains nine essential nutrients – a world-first innovation. 

Ms Hirsch has shown the real value of leadership and a strong moral compass through disruption and product innovation. Ms Hirsch also received the Emerging Leader Award, which recognises the up-and-coming talent of tomorrow. Entrants in this category may only just be starting out, but they have the capability, commitment and vision to become our future leaders. 

Also recognised as winners of the 2020 Telstra Victorian Business Women’s Awards were: 

  • Small Business Award: Hannah Spilva, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, LVLY, an online flower gifting company. This all-female team has grown significantly since 2015 and gives back by supporting community initiatives. 
  • Medium & Large Business Award: Leanne Healey, Founder and Director, Everyday Independence. Occupational therapist Leanne Healey founded Everyday Independence in 1997, aiming to help people with disabilities live everyday lives. 
  • Public Sector & Academia Award: Professor Belinda Tynan, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Vice-President, RMIT University. Professor Tynan leads a team responsible for implementing strategies that impact more than 90,000 students. Throughout her career she has advanced the application of educational technologies and distance education, with initiatives including RMIT Online and RMIT’s Digital Credentials program.  
  • For Purpose & Social Enterprise Award: Kate Fazio, Head of Innovation and Engagement, Justice Connect. Through her work at Justice Connect, Ms Fazio has been pivotal to designing and implementing radically new and successful approaches to better connect individuals and community organisations with free legal services and a network of 10,000 pro bono lawyers. 

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Heidi Prowse, Chief Executive Officer at Mental Illness Education ACT (MIEACT), is the 2020 Telstra Australian Capital Territory Business Woman of the Year. 

Ms Prowse has transformed MIEACT since joining the organisation two years ago. She has developed and implemented a new website and database management system; co-designed program development, volunteer engagement and evaluation frameworks; and significantly increased the organisation’s capacity to reach a greater audience. 

Ms Prowse also received the For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award, which celebrates leaders and employees of organisations making a positive difference to the world around them, from social missions to environmental change. This award recognises Ms Prowse’s work to commercialise programs to drive revenue, and using this to subsidise other not-for-profit programs. She thinks disruptively, but backs all her decisions with concept testing, data and insights. 

Also recognised as winners of the 2020 Telstra ACT Business Women’s Awards were: 

  • Small Business Award: Rhiannon Beach, Owner and Managing Director, Pups4Fun. Ms Beach’s unique approach to pet care is driven by investing in people and collaboration. Her dog daycare business, Pups4Fun, has grown from caring for a few pups per day to more than 400 dogs per week. 
  • Medium & Large Business Award: Hannah Gill, Managing Director, Independent Property Management. Ms Gill is a highly regarded professional and advocate for the property industry. She joined Independent at age 21 and rose to the position of Managing Director. 
  • Public Sector & Academia Award: Bree Hills, School Principal, Canberra Christian School. Ms Hills is making a positive impact through education and is influencing and shaping the lives of tomorrow’s leaders. Through hard work, passion and a belief that education is the most powerful tool, she has transformed Canberra Christian School into a diverse, nurturing and inspiring place of education. 
  • Emerging Leader Award: Samantha Truscott, Founding Partner, Allegro Education. This early intervention service provider uses music to help children with disabilities. Ms Truscott’s work aims to dispel the myth that children with disabilities are less capable than typically developing children. 

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South Australia 

Kerrie Campbell, Chief Information Officer at Flinders University, is the 2020 Telstra South Australian Business Woman of the Year. 

Responsible for all IT systems and passionate about staff culture and development, Ms Campbell’s mission is to connect all departments within the university to IT systems that streamline processes and procedures. 

Ms Campbell also won the Public Sector and Academia Award, which recognises women who’ve dedicated themselves to making an impact in education or the public service. We commend Kerrie for her passionate approach to driving transformation. She is a courageous, focused leader, and has the ability to complement her drive with a keen eye for innovation and balanced risk-taking. 

Also recognised as winners of the 2020 Telstra South Australian Business Women’s Awards were: 

  • Small Business Award: Mellissa Larkin, Founder and Managing Director, Peripheral Blue. In founding Peripheral Blue in 2016, Ms Larkin’s vision was of a legal and consulting firm with a difference. She has embraced innovation, providing a dynamic new style of legal services to benefit her clients and team. 
  • Medium and Large Business Award: Gabrielle Iwanow, General Manager Prominent Hill, OZ Minerals. Ms Iwanow is responsible for mining, processing and associated infrastructure and brings extensive experience from across the globe to her role. 
  • Emerging Leader Award: Rebecca Clare, Operations Manager and Co-Owner, PhysioWest, an Adelaide healthcare and wellbeing service. She has a vision to make a lasting impact in the healthcare industry and create better health outcomes for all. 
  • For Purpose & Social Enterprise Award: Liz Cohen, Chief Executive, Cara. In this role Ms Cohen aims to provide high quality, value for money services for people with disabilities. 

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Margaret Williams, CEO of St Helen residential care facility Medea Park, is the 2020 Telstra Tasmanian Business Woman of the Year. 

Ms Williams began her nursing career at age 18, finding her passion in the aged care industry and dedicating her time to caring for community members. As CEO of Medea Park, Ms Williams is responsible for the management and maintenance of care for more than 50 residents. 

Ms Williams also won the For Purpose & Social Enterprise Award, which celebrates leaders and employees of organisations making a positive difference to the world around them. Ms Williams has made a huge impact, delivering positive outcomes and creating an exciting future for Medea Park, its employees and residents. Her strategic, considered approach to business is balanced with her passion and empathy for her community. 

Also recognised as winners of the 2020 Telstra Tasmanian Business Women’s Awards were: 

  • Small Business Award: Alison Flakemore, Director, Alison’s Garden and Landscape. Ms Flakemore has led her team to assist the Hobart community Tasmania with all of their garden, landscaping and excavation needs. 
  • Medium & Large Business Award: Lisa McConnon, General Manager, Corporate Services, Enwave Australia. With more than 20 years’ managerial experience, Ms McConnon oversees all HR, IT and marketing functions, helping shape the utility company’s culture and strategy. 
  • Public Sector & Academia Award: Catherine Murdoch, Executive Director Northern Cities, Tasmanian Office of the Coordinator-General. Ms Murdoch leads initiatives that aim to establish Launceston as Australia’s leading regional city. 
  • Emerging Leader Award: Rachel Vasicek, Creative Director, Francesca. Ms Vasicek founded Francesca with her sister in 2013, selling jewellery at Salamanca Market, and has since driven the business’ digital marketing, design and operations as it has expanded across Australia. 

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Northern Territory 

Bec Hammet, General Manager of SH Build, is the 2020 Telstra Northern Territory Business Woman of the Year. 

With a commitment to safety and quality at the heart of her business, Ms Hammet travels to remote building sites to undertake audits, complete safety meetings and support her supervisors. She oversees all day-to-day operations, managing budgets, developing strategic plans, meeting potential clients, and creating opportunities to improve the business. 

Ms Hammet also won the Medium and Large Business Award, which recognises high-achieving and ambitious individuals who define the direction of their business in everything they do, no matter their job title. We commend Ms Hammet for her strong leadership skills and business acumen. She is articulate, resilient and consistent, and has created a highly structured business with impressive cash flow that also gives back to the community. 

Also recognised as winners of this year’s 2020 Telstra Northern Territory Business Women’s Awards were: 

  • Small Business Award: Glenys Tarrant, Business Administrator, Micronised Mineral Solutions. Ms Tarrant co-founded a small engineering company that evolved into Micronised Mineral Solutions. The business helps manage and repair the environmental effects caused by the mining and industrial sectors. 
  • Emerging Leader Award: Emma Kelly, Community Development Program Manager, Arnhem Land Progress Aboriginal Corporation. In this role Ms Kelly helps support Indigenous Australians make self-determined choices about their future. 
  • Public Sector & Academia Award: Anne Walters, Chief Plant Health Officer, Northern Territory Government. Ms Walters is responsible for the strategic direction of plant biosecurity in the Northern Territory and works nationally to drive reform and improvements to the plant biosecurity system. 
  • For Purpose & Social Enterprise Award: Leeanne Caton, Chief Executive Officer, Yilli Rreung Housing Aboriginal Corporation, an Indigenous housing group that services more than 200 properties in the Darwin area. 

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Western Australia 

Jodi Cant has been named the 2020 Telstra Western Australian Business Woman of the Year. 

As the Director General at the Department of Finance, Ms Cant leads more than 1000 staff in her role that oversees the state’s finances. Ms Cant believes a progressive workplace is the key to her leadership approach and she has led her department through several innovation initiatives.

Ms Cant also won the Public Sector and Academia Award, which recognises women who’ve dedicated themselves to making an impact in education or the public service. She has demonstrated insightfulness and maturity, while leading projects that have national and international impact, and emphasises the importance of listening as a leader. 

Also recognised as winners of the 2020 Telstra Western Australian Business Women’s Awards were: 

  • Small Business Award: Adjunct Professor Tracy Westerman, Managing Director, Indigenous Psychological Services. Adjunct Professor Tracy Westerman founded Indigenous Psychological Services in 1998 to address the significant gaps in treatment and intervention into suicide and mental health in Aboriginal populations. 
  • Medium and Large Business Award: Selina Torrance, Executive General Manager, HBF, the largest not-for-profit private health insurer in Western Australia. She oversees all touchpoints with HBF’s member base, from branches to call centres and marketing communications. 
  • Emerging Leader Award: Jordan Foster, Founder, ySafe. A young founder with an all-female executive team, Ms Foster is an expert in the field of cyber safety and a specialist in the treatment of gaming addiction in Australia. 
  • For Purpose & Social Enterprise Award: Kim Marie Smith, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Standing Strong International. Ms Smith has made it her mission to help children build strong minds, strong bodies and strong hearts. She is passionate about being able to build a support network for children and families. 

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Entering a new era for the TBWAs 

We are now in a new era, setting new benchmarks for what it means to be a successful business person, championing inclusion and innovation along the way. 

This is a testing time for us all as we grapple with new ways of working, disruptions to our daily lives and supply chains, and the task of changing the way we do business in a post-pandemic world. The dedication and wherewithal these women have shown has been nothing short of inspiring. 

We’ll be sharing more soon from a unique year of the Telstra Business Women’s Awards, including advice and stories from our winners on how they’ve pivoted their approach to leadership and business in response to the COVID-19 crisis. 

Telstra Business Women's Awards 2019 - All Winners
Telstra Business Women's Awards |

Telstra Business Women’s Awards 2020: celebrating 25 years of progress

By Alex Badenoch September 4, 2019

We want to celebrate women in business and thank the many who have paved the way and helped reshape the Australian business landscape for the better. That’s why the Telstra Business Women’s Awards are back for their 25th year.

25 years ago we awarded our first Telstra Business Woman of the Year to Sue Vardon for her work as South Australia’s Department of Correctional Services chief executive officer.

Sue said at the time that the award gave her the confidence, profile and credibility which helped her take the step to set up Centrelink. “It also gave me a chance to acknowledge the many others who had contributed to my success, in particular my mother,” she recalled.

“Most significantly, the awards continue to highlight women who may see themselves as ordinary by acknowledging and showing how extraordinary they are. Other women gain confidence and inspiration from hearing the stories, particularly when they see how others have persisted after hardship.

“They showcase to the larger community that success and excellence is not defined by gender and I know a lot of women are thankful for the path the Awards have helped pave,” said Sue.

Now, when you analyse women in business by the numbers, you quickly identify some key trends. Women now make up more than a third of all Australian business operators and there has been a 46 per cent increase in that number in the past two decades.

To Sue, and the many other trailblazing businesswomen, we say thank you. Thank you for giving other women a female leader to look up to; for not being deterred by the doubters; for standing up, speaking up and lifting other women up.

The progress is encouraging, but we know there remains much to do. The OECD and Australian Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PMC) recognise that women still remain underrepresented as entrepreneurs in this country. Specifically, the PMC identified this as a ‘key concern for policy’.

Corporate Australia also needs more female representation, with the number of women serving on boards at just 20.1 per cent of the ASX 200.

That’s why we want to encourage Australians to back our female leaders in business. We want to showcase and celebrate their great work and reward their tenacity in reshaping how Australia interacts with business.

We’re thrilled to mark 25 years – a quarter of a century of recognising incredible female leaders and progress.

At last year’s awards, an incredible disruptor in the field of aged care was recognised. Natasha Chadwick is the CEO of NewDirection Care at Bellmere. She took out the award in 2019 for forging her own path in a critical industry to better address the quality of aged and dementia care in this country. Natasha said after she won that the process of entering the Telstra Business Women’s Awards allowed her to articulate her mission well.

TBWA 2019 National Business Woman of the Year Award Winner - Natasha Chadwick

“I’ve got a very clear vision and goal of what we want to achieve, and we’ve always had that. Certainly, having to articulate what we want to achieve through theTelstra Business Women’s Awardsprocess has made it even clearer. I now have the validation that we’re on the right track, and the extra encouragement to take NewDirection Care to the next level,” Natasha said at the time.

So what is the next level for NewDirection Care? Natasha says she’s using the Telstra Business Women’s Awards win to help propel her and her company to the international stage.

If you know someone like Natasha, Sue or the countless other incredible women we’ve seen enter the Telstra Business Women’s Awards over the past 25 years, now is your time to nominate for 2020. To nominate yourself or an inspiring businesswoman you know, visitthe Telstra Business Women’s Awards nomination website.

Business and Enterprise | Telstra Business Awards | Telstra Business Women's Awards | Telstra News |

Disrupting aged care for good

By Natasha Chadwick May 24, 2019

Natasha Chadwick, Telstra’s Business Woman of the Year 2019, wants to change the way the world looks at aged care.

As we age, the need for respectful and individualised care becomes paramount. But as aged care became industrialised, the needs of the individual were potentially overlooked in the pursuit of large-scale care. That’s why we founded NewDirection Care at Bellmere.

At NewDirection Care, my team and I are on a mission to flip the script on aged care for the better, and forever. Our work at Bellmere has been positive, and now we’re eager to expand our model of care internationally.

It takes a village

NewDirection Care’s philosophy is simple: rather than filling a large building with many residents to provide care, a small residential township is built to deliver care that focuses on the individual in a community setting. 17 domestic-style homes are created, which can house seven residents each. The community at NewDirection Care at Bellmere, Queensland is the first of what we call a “microtown™”.

Developed especially for the elderly and those living with younger onset dementia and complex care needs, the microtown™ community model gives back freedom to residents and is just like any small suburban town.

It has 17 homes, plenty of outdoor space, BBQ areas, a retail precinct with shops, a café, cinema, wellness centre, barbers, beauty salon and much more. Residents are encouraged to pursue hobbies and passions in the community and socialise with other residents.

Traditional aged care facilities are built around a regimented structure. Meal times, activity hours and sleeping periods are often mandated for residents in large scale care facilities. We saw an opportunity to flip this model around: instead of regimented schedules, NewDirection Care supports the autonomy of its residents.

Residents decide when they get up in the morning, when they go to bed in the evening, when they eat and when they socialise so as not to oppose personal autonomy. Use of outdoor spaces is encouraged, and freedom of movement for residents is paramount to NewDirection Care’s success as an individualised care community.

Residents are supported in their homes by personal carers called House Companions™ who provide relationship-based support and personalised care for each individual’s needs. Pets are also welcomed into the community and embraced as great companions.

Focus on the individual

The NewDirection Care model recognises that each resident is an individual with wants and needs that go beyond a simple diagnosis. The microtown™ model is built around respecting the individual and allowing them to flourish, rather than segmenting and segregating them inside a rigid, diagnosis-based structure. Residents are encouraged to lead an independent life and contribute to their community, which in turn supports them.

This focus on the individual is key to success. I believe that prioritising the needs of the individual in all of our business interactions increases the inclusivity of our business overall.

Some of my greatest mentors also prioritise the importance of the individual and I’ve had some amazing mentors in my journey. My business partner Arthur Brotherhood always championed me as a woman. Even though we were equal partners, people would come to him with questions and for answers. Instead of answering, he would always refer them back to me and honour the fact that we were partners.

From the microtown™ to the world

The theme for this year’s Telstra Business Women’s Awards program was literally about ‘undoing business’ – taking traditional mindsets and turning them upside down. Each of us has to look at our own industries, to not settle for the status quo, and instead step out of the shadows and spearhead the world that we want to see, so that present and future generations benefit from what we have to offer.

I believe that’s exactly what I’ve done with NewDirection Care. We’ve taken a traditional sector, a whole industry, and demonstrated that you can actually turn it upside down to change the way we provide aged care to people living in our communities. It can be much better than what it currently is.

I’ve got a very clear vision and goal of what we want to achieve, and we’ve always had that. Certainly, having to articulate what we want to achieve through the Telstra Business Women’s Awards process has made it even clearer. I now have the validation that we’re on the right track, and the extra encouragement to take NewDirection Care to the next level.

My role now as founder and CEO of NewDirection Care is to grow it into a national and international aged care brand. Through partnerships and licensing that ensure that NewDirection Care MicroTowns are built across Australia and around the world, allowing ageing people and those living with dementia, brain diseases or injuries both here at home and around the world to live a much better life.

I have proven with our new model of care that everyone can have a life of freedoms, not restrictions, no matter what their diagnosis. At NewDirection Care, we offer a life of equality, of respect, compassion and empathy, with every individual continuing to be a part of our communities, not shut away.

It’s so much more than a business for me – you can probably tell it’s my passion, and it’s my mission. I’m absolutely thrilled that winning this award will now shine a spotlight on my mission at NewDirection Care for radical change across the aged care industry, not only in Australia but around the world.

Telstra Business Women's Awards 2019 - All Winners
Business and Enterprise | Telstra Business Awards | Telstra Business Women's Awards |

Introducing the 2019 Telstra Business Woman of the Year

By Alex Badenoch May 17, 2019

The 2019 Telstra Business Woman of the Year is Natasha Chadwick, CEO of Queensland aged care facility, NewDirection Care at Bellmere. She was awarded the honour at a gala event in Sydney overnight.

I had the absolute honour of being on the judging panel and hosting the 2019 Telstra Business Awards last night, and what an incredible evening it was! Everyone was buzzing with excitement and in awe of our amazing finalists from around the country who are the best in business.

Telstra Business Women of the Year winners are known for challenging the status quo and achieving success in business by forging their own path, and Natasha Chadwick is no different. Her tireless efforts to improve access to quality aged care for older Australians cannot be understated.

The rise in cases of dementia is a global crisis and one that touches many of us, whether in our own family or with someone we know. And Natasha has been pioneering a new approach for residents over the past seven years by creating a first-of-its-kind microtown™ residential community that brings together residents with a range of care needs and similar values and lifestyle preferences to live together.

Natasha developed her radical new take on aged care because she believed there was an opportunity to improve the traditional way of delivering care. Developed especially for those living with Alzheimer’s and dementia, she pioneered the microtown™ community model that gives back freedom to residents.

This model allows residents to have control over their lives while residing in an environment that is both familiar and safe. Residents in the community are treated as individuals, and are not bound to a set schedule of meals and care. The focus of microtown is all about establishing a sense of community.

Upon reflecting on our winner and this year’s theme of celebrating women who are ‘undoing business’, I feel whole-heartedly that this is exactly what Natasha has done. She has been challenging traditional mindsets and turning them upside down, approached a whole industry with a view to improve it and demonstrated that you can actually change the way we provide aged care for the better.

Natasha joins a renowned group of Telstra Business Women’s Awards alumni, who for years have been sharing wisdom and advice with winners to help them take their businesses or not-for-profit organisations to the next level.

TBWA 2019 - Emerging Leader Award - Genevieve Clay-Smith
TBWA 2019 – Emerging Leader Award – Genevieve Clay-Smith
TBWA 2019 - For Purpose & Social Enterprise Award - Dushyanthi Thangiah
TBWA 2019 – For Purpose & Social Enterprise Award – Dushyanthi Thangiah
TBWA 2019 - Public Sector and Academia Award - Debbie Platz
TBWA 2019 – Public Sector and Academia Award – Debbie Platz

Now in its 24th year, the Telstra Business Women’s Awards shine a light on women who have challenged the status quo, done things their own way, and achieved success in business. The program empowers Australia’s most successful women from small, medium and large businesses, for-purpose organisations and social enterprises, academia and the public sector.

TBWA 2019 - Small Business Award Winner - Jodie Silvester
TBWA 2019 – Small Business Award Winner – Jodie Silvester

The national winners were awarded following a rigorous judging process, which involved in-depth interviews with a panel of high-profile judges, including Melanie Silva, Managing Director of Google Australia & New Zealand, Stevan Premutico, Founder of Dimmi, and Tracey Spicer, journalist, author and founder of Outspoken Women.

TBWA 2019 - Noni Vassos and Mikayla Lynch
TBWA 2019 – Noni Vassos and Mikayla Lynch

The full list of the 2019 Telstra Business Women’s Awards national winners are:

  • Small Business Award: Jodie Silvester, Managing Director and Founder, KAS Accounting Solutions (WA)
  • Public Sector and Academia Award: Debbie Platz, Assistant Commissioner, Australian Federal Police (QLD)
  • For Purpose & Social Enterprise Award: Dushyanthi Thangiah, Chief Executive Officer, Yumba-Meta Housing Association (QLD)
  • Emerging Leader Award: Genevieve Clay-Smith, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Bus Stop Films (NSW)
  • Business Woman of the Year Award and Medium & Large Business Award: Natasha Chadwick, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, NewDirection Care at Bellmere (QLD)

We congratulate Natasha on her win, as well as all the category winners and the nominees in this year’s national awards – all of whom are doing their utmost to make Australia and the world a better place.

Renee Wingfield - Creative Director - Fliptease
Business and Enterprise | Telstra Business Women's Awards |

Championing women doing things differently at the Telstra Business Women’s Awards

By Robyn Denholm February 26, 2019

Today we announce the state finalists for the 2019 Telstra Business Women’s Awards. As a woman in business myself, and proud ambassador of this year’s program, I share the excitement of all the women who have been recognised for doing things differently.

Now in their 24th year, the Awards empower Australia’s most successful women from small, medium and large businesses, for-purpose organisations and social enterprises, academia and the public sector.

This year we had an incredible number of nominees and a competitive calibre of talentedh women. Our judges were inspired by women from around the country who are smashing through stereotypes to transform the status quo, championing inclusion, innovation, and leadership.

Holley Somerville Knott - Tell Someone Who Cares - Telstra Business Women's Awards

One finalist is a young woman from New South Wales with big ambitions. At 15 years old, Holley Somerville Knott is the CEO of Tell Someone Who Cares (TSWC) and is taking on the fight against large corporates by providing an alternative to products containing palm oil. With a deep passion for sustainability, Holley provides customers with the opportunity to create change with their everyday purchases.

Sue Keay - CSIRO’s Data61 - Telstra Business Women's Awards

Another finalist is pursuing a cause that I’m personally very passionate about. Sue Keay is recognised as one of Queensland’s most influential people and a ‘Superstar of STEM’ by Science and Technology Australia, and leads cyber-physical research at CSIRO’s Data61. She is inspired to raise the profile of female voices in technology and increase the number of female researchers.

Renee Wingfield - Company and Creative Director, Fliptease - Telstra Business Women's Awards
Photograph by: Johannes Reinhart

And from Western Australia is a businesswoman who really knows what it’s like to jump through hoops. Renee Wingfield is Company and Creative Director of performing arts company, Fliptease. Aerial performances, water installations and circus spectacles are all part of Renee’s day-to-day, not to mention the skills she needs to run her business.

For a full list of 2019 finalists, please visit the Telstra Business Awards website.

Being named a state finalist is an important moment of recognition. It shows women they are on the right track and their hard work is having an impact. By shining a light on women’s successes, and their individual stories, Telstra can help them thrive.

Previous winners often tell us the program provides a rare opportunity to take stock and improve their business or organisation. I encourage the finalists to make the most of the network they have joined to share experiences and seek advice to take their business or organisation to the next level.

My three tips for women in business

State category winners and overall State winners of the 2019 Telstra Business Women’s Awards will be announced around the country in March and April. State and Territory winners will be invited to Sydney for the National Awards judging on Wednesday 15 May, and a national dinner celebration on Thursday 16 May.