Drone pioneer named Queensland's top business woman

Media Release, 30 September 2015

Pushing the boundaries of technical innovation and delivering ground breaking environmental and infrastructure surveying with drones has earned Dr Catherine Ball the title of 2015 Telstra Queensland Business Woman of the Year.

Dr Ball developed a proposal to use drones for marine fauna surveys, which led to her landing her current role at international engineering and environmental consultancy URS (an AECOM company).

Dr Ball is responsible for more than 90 active bids and projects across Australia and New Zealand and has delivered a number of world firsts in environmental and infrastructure surveying. This includes the creation of high-resolution, 3D-walkthroughs of remote islands from data collected by drones, enabling scientists to assess turtle rookeries without leaving the office.

Brisbane-based Dr Ball also won the Corporate and Private Award, at the 21st annual Telstra Queensland Business Women’s Awards, which were attended by Di Farmer, Member for Bulimba and Grace Grace, Member for Brisbane Central, at Brisbane City Hall tonight.

Dr Ball’s proven ability to approach problems from a fresh perspective has helped to position Australia as a thought leader in Unmanned Aerial Systems.

“I have always been someone who has asked 'why', and who is not afraid to push the envelope and engender change. By leading the rest of the world with these applications, we are highlighting Australia’s global capability to develop, test and apply new ways of working,” Dr Ball said.

Telstra Chief Operations Officer and Telstra Business Women’s Award Ambassador, Kate McKenzie, said Dr Ball and all the Queensland winners had achieved impressive results in their respective areas of business.

“The 2015 Queensland winners are brilliant business women who are passionate, courageous and are willing to challenge the accepted way of doing things.”

Ms McKenzie said the Telstra Awards judges were impressed with Dr Ball’s drive to showcase Australia’s technological achievements to the world.

“Catherine is at the forefront of innovation in the geo-technical space, tirelessly exploring new ways of working to develop unmanned aerial systems in environmental and engineering projects, which have now been implemented all over the world.”

Many of tonight’s Telstra Queensland Business Women’s Awards winners are making ground in traditionally male-dominated industries – including Marie Piccone (Entrepreneur Award), Managing Director of Manbullo, the nation’s largest producer of popular Kensington Pride mangoes; and the first female Commissioner of Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES), Katarina Carroll (Government and Academia Award), who also led the Queensland Police Services’ G20 security operation last year.

Belinda Brosnan, Managing Director of HR Junction won the Start-Up Award, while the For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award was picked up by General Manager of Cape York Partnership’s Fiona Jose for her commitment to empowerment of the local Indigenous community. Susie Upton, founder of Brisbane-based counseling and psychology service Child Aware won Young Business Women’s Award.

The Queensland winners will proceed to the national finals in Melbourne on Wednesday 18 November.

2015 Telstra Queensland Business Woman of the Year
Dr Catherine Ball, URS (an AECOM Company), Brisbane

Start-Up Award
Belinda Brosnan, HR Junction, Newstead
For 19 years Belinda Brosnan led teams and drove strategy for more than 60 well-known brands in the marketing and sales corporate world, before redirecting her career and launching HR Junction in 2014. HR Junction is a consulting business that specialises in people performance and organisational culture. Telstra Awards judges said Belinda demonstrates exceptional leadership values in addition to strong social and community mindedness through her volunteering role with The Hunger Project, which works to break the cycle of poverty by empowering women to become self-reliant and agents of change in their communities.

Entrepreneur Award

Marie Piccone, Manbulloo, Horseshoe Lagoon
Marie Piccone is a leading figure in Australia’s mango industry and Managing Director of Manbulloo, the nation’s largest producer of popular Kensington Pride mangoes. She has developed a business that comprises production, marketing and export to Korea, China, Japan and Canada, supply chain technical support and marketing and horticultural support. Telstra Awards judges were impressed by Marie’s extraordinary business story and passion for her work, noting that she gives back to her industry by sitting on numerous government bodies as well as creating opportunities for women in agribusiness.

For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award
Fiona Jose, Cape York Partnership, Cairns
Fiona Jose, an Indigenous woman from Cape York, is dedicated to empowering her people as General Manager of Cape York Partnership (CYP), an Indigenous policy reform and leadership organisation that has stood up to lead a comprehensive reform agenda. Telstra Awards judges said Fiona has demonstrated real leadership in her community by making connections with local businesses to influence the employment of local people, and running successful programs for Indigenous women in Cape York.

Government and Academia Award

Katarina Carroll, Queensland Fire & Emergency Services, Brisbane
The first woman to be appointed Commissioner of Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) in 2015, Katarina Carroll has carved an impressive career within a largely male-dominated workplace. Telstra Awards judges said through her position at QEFS and her previous role leading the Queensland Police Services (QPS) G20 security operation in Brisbane last year, Katarina is reinventing the safety and security space by implementing systems that promote collaboration between different government bodies. Judges also described her as an accessible leader and a mentor to many women.

Corporate and Private Award

Dr Catherine Ball, URS (an AECOM Company), Brisbane

Young Business Women’s Award
Susie Upton, Child Aware, Carina
Susie Upton’s passion for child protection, service accessibility and early intervention in children's mental health led to Child Aware being founded in 2013. Child Aware is a Brisbane-based counselling and psychology service in two locations that also offers training for professionals and supervision of provisionally registered psychologists. Telstra Awards Judges described Susie as someone with strong leadership values and great communication style.

More information on the Telstra Business Women’s Awards can be found at www.womensawards.com.