Brilliant Queensland Women Take Top Honours in Australian Business Awards

Media Release, 19 November 2015

A world-leading drone pioneer, a mango industry visionary and a trailblazer in the fire and emergency service have all been recognised at the 2015 Telstra Australian Business Women’s Awards tonight.

Queensland performed strongly in the Awards, taking out top honours in three of the six national award categories - Dr Catherine Ball won the Corporate and Private Award, Marie Piccone of Manbulloo picked up the Entrepreneur Award while Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Katarina Carroll was named joint winner of the Government and Academia Award.

Other Award winners were Captain Mona Shindy of New South Wales, who was named 2015 Telstra Business Woman of the Year and joint winner of the Government and Academia Award with Commissioner Carroll, Jessica May from the ACT who took home the Start-Up Award, South Australia’s Kate Thiele who received the For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award and Kim Tran from Western Australia who won the Young Business Women’s Award.

Dr Catherine Ball has delivered world-leading technology through the use of drones for environmental and infrastructure surveying; including high-resolution 3D-walkthroughs of remote islands from data collected by drones, which enables scientists to assess turtle rookeries without leaving the office.

She is excited and inspired by her role developing world-leading UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) technology in Australia and its immense scope for use in various environmental applications.

“Here in Australia, there are extremely treacherous conditions, difficult terrain and dangerous wildlife. Now we can achieve the collection of ground-breaking data and information that in some cases hasn’t been detected by traditional methods in almost 20 years,” said Dr Ball.

As an agricultural trailblazer, Entrepreneur Award winner Marie Piccone has driven significant innovation in her industry over a relatively short period of time, revolutionising the way that mangoes are produced. Manbulloo is now the nation’s largest producer of the popular Kensington Pride mango.

“Since buying three mango plantations 10 years ago, we have tripled the mango yield, increased the percentage of premium mangoes from 24 per cent to 84 per cent and pioneered the export of mangoes - achieving respect and recognition as first-class exporter,” said Ms Piccone.

Katarina Carroll has also carved an impressive career within a significantly male-dominated workplace. Last year, as Queensland Police Assistant Commissioner, Katarina led the Queensland Police Service (QPS) G20 security operation in Brisbane. She advocates the importance of innovation for achieving results.

“When I was asked to undertake the role of the security planner and operations commander for G20, I was anxious. We knew we had to do things differently. We innovated in everything, changing the entire model and even changed command and control – we had to innovate for success.”

Telstra Business Women’s Award Ambassador and Chief Operations Officer, Kate McKenzie said all of the national winners have demonstrated incredible resolve and determination throughout their careers.

“It’s wonderful to see these three impressive Queensland women following in the footsteps of 2014 Telstra Business Woman of the Year, Anne Cross and continuing the strong performance of Queenslanders in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards.

“All seven National winners are brilliant, courageous women who have pushed the boundaries and truly innovated in their respective categories,” Ms McKenzie said.

“Judges praised Catherine as an inspiring, bright and vibrant leader – someone who has the ability to stand up in the face of a system that needs change, identifies solutions and makes things happen.

“Marie has an incredible drive for growth, exploring options to export to the US and Asia and strategically expand her business. Marie has faced the odds, pushed her business through tough times and made it into something truly amazing,” Ms McKenzie added.

“Katarina stands out as a visionary leader, one who has driven substantial cultural change and championed gender diversity. Her influence, contribution to reform and ability to manage organisations and operations across diverse large-scale industries throughout her career is impressive. Katarina has driven great outcomes through innovation. A sense of higher purpose in her work shines through.”

The Telstra Business Women’s Awards were attended by Telstra Chairman Catherine Livingstone AO, Telstra CEO Andrew Penn and Awards Alumni including 2014 Telstra Business Woman of the Year Anne Cross of UnitingCare.

2015 Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year
Captain Mona Shindy, Royal Australian Navy, Maroubra
After 26 years’ service in the Royal Australian Navy, Captain Mona Shindy’s current role is vital to Australia’s future military preparedness. As Director Littoral Warfare and Maritime Support, she presents business cases to government for acquisition of affordable and suitable Defence assets including patrol boats, tankers, and littoral warfare equipment. Migrating to Australia from Egypt when she was three, Mona has led teams in operational roles as a weapons engineer on warships and in technical support organisations. In 2013, Mona became the Chief of Navy's Strategic Adviser on Islamic Cultural Affairs, receiving a Conspicuous Service Cross for this work on Australia Day 2015. Judges were struck by Mona’s strength in the face of adversity and her determination to effect change and pave the way for those who follow in her footsteps.

Start-Up Award
Jessica May, Enabled Employment, Canberra
In 2011 Jessica May’s diagnosis with a panic disorder after the birth of her first child was the catalyst to starting up her own business Enabled Employment in 2014. Enabled Employment is an online portal offering flexible employment for people with disability or Australian Defence Force members with post-traumatic stress and other injuries. The business is owned, run and managed by people with disability and employs an Australian Defence Force veteran to assist with employment of other veterans. Enabled Employment has filled more than 100 positions of the 240 advertised in the last twelve months. The Telstra Awards judges praised Jessica’s tenacity in changing the way people with disability are perceived by employers, and expanding job options for people with disability.

Entrepreneur Award
Marie Piccone, Manbulloo, Horseshoe Lagoon

For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award
Kate Thiele, Guide Dogs SA/NT, Adelaide
After a career in the private sector, Kate Thiele aligned her love of leading dynamic teams with social enterprise and became the Chief Executive of Guide Dogs SA/NT. Kate says the most significant change she has led at Guide Dogs SA/NT is driving the expansion of the Guide Dogs program to include Autism Assistance Dogs. When Kate joined in 2009, the economy was uncertain. Using her sales and marketing experience, Kate brokered a multi-faceted giving program which has tripled turnover, grown active donors from 5,000 to more than 50,000 and grown regular donors from 450 a year to an amazing 21,000. Judges highlighted Kate’s ability to marry her business acumen with her passion for the cause; as well as her innate understanding of the organisation at a grassroots level.

Government and Academia Award
Captain Mona Shindy, Royal Australian Navy, Maroubra

Katarina Carroll, Queensland Fire & Emergency Services, Brisbane

Corporate and Private Award
Dr Catherine Ball, Brisbane

Young Business Women’s Award
Kim Tran, La Belle Peau Skincare Clinic, Perth
Kim Tran opened her first skin and beauty clinic in 2007 at the age of 19, a year after she was Student of the Year in Dermal Science at Curtin University. As Managing Director of La Belle Peau Skincare Clinic, the dermal therapist runs a business offering clients cosmeceutical skincare, paramedical skin treatments and beauty treatments. While a coach and role model for her team of experienced dermal and beauty therapists, Kim is highly-motivated to ensure she stays abreast of the industry’s latest technology in skin and beauty treatments. The judges were impressed by Kim’s determination to change the lives of others through both her business and her wider work within the community.

More information on the Telstra Business Women’s Awards can be found at