Carman's Fine Foods owner named Australia's Business Woman of the Year

Media Release, 22 November 2012

A woman who bought into a home-made muesli business for $1000 and developed it into a $50 million enterprise that exports to 32 countries has been named the 2012 Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year.

Carolyn Creswell was an 18-year-old first-year university student in Melbourne in 1992 when she bought half the muesli business which was renamed Carman’s Fine Foods. Two years later she became sole owner and managing director of the Cheltenham healthy food manufacturer which has grown into a multi-national brand offering 22 muesli, porridge and muesli bar products.

Ms Creswell employs about 130 staff and uses ingredients from Australian farmers and packaging suppliers to stock domestic and international retailers and airlines.

A mother of four young children who prides herself on the balance she maintains between her career and her family, Ms Creswell also won the Commonwealth Bank Business Owner Award at the 18th Telstra Australian Business Women’s Awards in Sydney tonight.

Other Award winners were fellow Victorian Maureen Clifford, founder of IT consultancy Ndevr Pty Ltd, Cynthia Whelan, CEO for Australia and NZ of Barclays Bank, Sandy Pitcher, Deputy Chief Executive of the Department of Premier and Cabinet in SA, and Chandra Clements, CEO of Sentis, a global business that applies psychology to safety and wellbeing in resources industries.

Kate McKenzie, Telstra Group Managing Director for Innovation, Products and Marketing and Telstra Business Women’s Awards Ambassador, said the judging this year was more difficult than ever given the calibre of exceptional, courageous and innovative women many of whom were shaping Australia’s business landscape and the nation’s future.

“Carolyn Creswell has a great business model and work ethic. The Awards judges described her as a hands-on leader with strong business skills in a competitive sector. She’s an articulate communicator, an inspiration to women of all ages and she’s also passionate about being a great mum,” Ms McKenzie said.

Karen James, General Manager Affiliate Business Banking and Women in Focus at CommBank, congratulated Ms Creswell, adding: “We look forward to connecting Carolyn Creswell to our Women in Focus community so that she can continue to inspire thousands of women on their own entrepreneurial journey.”

Also recognised at the awards was Maureen Clifford, a widow with two young children who struggled her way out of poverty, worked for Fisher & Paykel in New Zealand and later Australia, rising to General Manager Finance before establishing her  IT consultancy Ndevr Pty Ltd in Melbourne in1998.

Ms Clifford, who says innovation helped her company succeed through the Global Financial Crisis, won the Nokia Business Innovation Award for developing an automated environmental accounting and auditing system that was bought by US software giant Oracle Corporation.

She launched Ndevr’s environmental consulting arm two years ago which assists companies with sustainability programs and greenhouse gas reporting compliance. The system is now used by large Australian construction companies and is available around the world.

Ms McKenzie said the Telstra Awards judges described Ms Clifford as the epitome of the ‘quiet achiever.’ She displayed deep business acumen, self-belief and was highly innovative and inventive in a contentious field.

Steve Lewis, Head of Sales, Nokia Australia and New Zealand said: "Once again, this year's Telstra Business Women's Awards has turned out some of the most talented, inspiring women of our generation and we congratulate all the Nokia Innovation category state and territory winners.

“For us, there was one standout name. Maureen Clifford has not only achieved so much in her field but has displayed many of the qualities we subscribe to as a company - innovative, humble and inspirational.”

Winners of the 2012 Telstra Australian Business Women’s Awards are:

Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year and Commonwealth Bank Business Owner Award
Carolyn Creswell - Carman’s Fine Foods, Victoria

Hudson Private and Corporate Sector Award
Cynthia Whelan - Barclays Bank PLC, NSW

Cynthia Whelan worked with industry giants Merrill Lynch and UBS before joining Barclays in 2004 where she established the institution’s debt capital market business in Australia before heading up the regional division in Hong Kong. The aspiring ballet student turned finance expert returned from Asia in 2009 and was appointed CEO for Australia and NZ in 2011. Judges said Ms Whelan possessed a high level of poise and self awareness and demonstrated both a willingness and ability to break from the pack. She was described as a high achiever in a male-dominated field of equity banking.

White Pages® Community & Government Award
Sandy Pitcher - Department of the Premier and Cabinet, South Australia

Following senior public sector roles in Australian, UK and South Australian governments, Sandy Pitcher was appointed Deputy Chief Executive for the SA Department of the Premier and Cabinet in 2010. She provides high-level advice to the Premier and Cabinet about community well-being and economic prosperity and leads national reform work on behalf of SA. Judges said Ms Pitcher demonstrated extraordinary vision in translating ideas of diverse stakeholders into real actions. They commended her ability to address the heart of major community issues.

Nokia Business Innovation Award
Maureen Clifford - Ndevr Pty Ltd, Victoria

marie claire Young Business Women’s Award
Chandra Clements - Sentis, Queensland                 

Since 2010 accountant turned psychologist, Chandra Clements has been CEO of Sentis, an Australian-owned business that applies psychology to safety, wellbeing, organisational and leadership performance for clients in 22 countries. Now 34, she leads 90 staff in three Australian offices and one in the US with clients in mining, construction, oil and gas. Judges were impressed with Ms Clement’s outstanding people management skills, intuition, insight and the level of strategic thinking required in her business.

Winners of the Awards receive a share of more than $200,000 in cash and prizes and become part of an exclusive national business alumni.

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