Helping injured people return to work leads to top Business Women's Award

Media Release, 05 October 2012

Therese Rein, inspired by her father to build a rehabilitation services business that now operates in ten countries and employs 2300 people, was named today as the 2012 Telstra Queensland Business Woman of the Year.

Ms Rein is founder and Managing Director of the Ingeus group which was established in 1989 and evolved into  an international provider of welfare-to-work services for the long-term unemployed, people with disabilities, the young and mature aged, refugees and migrants.She also won the Commonwealth Bank Business Owner Award at the Awards ceremony held in Brisbane.

Ms Rein says her father’s courage, determination and will to work after suffering a crippling injury taught her that work really matters to people.

Ingeus, formerly Work Directions Australia, introduced a case management approach, featuring individualised plans, to assist the long-term unemployed get back to work - this was not common practice 20 years ago. Another initiative was outcome based payments where Ingeus is rewarded by its government or private partners when people go into jobs that last three months or more.

Ms Rein sold the Australian arm of her business in 2007 when her husband Kevin Rudd became Prime Minister. In 2011, she acquired Assure Programs, a business psychology services company operating in Australia and New Zealand that provides employee assistance programs and organisational development.

She says: “Internationally, Ingeus helps people who are either unemployed due to economic conditions or long-term unemployed because of injury, substance dependence, homelessness or mental illness.”

Other Awards winners included Karla Way-McPhail, founder and CEO of Undamine Industries and Coal Train Australia, an underground mining contractor and training provider; Carolyn Devries, founder of non-profit law firm New Way Lawyers; Carolyn Thomson, General Manager of Sunshine Coast-based Kadoe Commercial Coatings; and Chandra Clements, CEO of Sentis, an internationally-operating business that applies psychology to safety, wellbeing, organisational and leadership performance.

Kate McKenzie, Group Managing Director Telstra Innovation, Products & Marketing and Telstra Business Women’s Awards Ambassador, said the winners in Queensland were inspirational business women and leaders in their sectors. “They have displayed innovation in their business or community that influences and motivates others and their achievements are cause for celebration,” she said.

Ms McKenzie said Telstra Awards judges highlighted Therese Rein’s highly developed understanding of the global market in which her business performs and the financial drivers behind it. “They said she operates under a strong moral and ethical framework and acknowledged her passion for people whether they were customers, contracting agencies or her staff,” she said.

Karen James, General Manager Affiliate Business Banking and Women in Focus at CommBank said: “I’d like to congratulate Therese Rein on her success in the welfare-to-work services sector and for her contribution to the Australian economy, the business community, and society. We look forward to further sharing Therese’s story and expertise with the community.”

Ms James said the number of women entrepreneurs was growing faster than men, with role models like Therese Rein and the other women coming through the Telstra Business Women’s Awards playing a critical part in paving the way forward for the next generation of female innovators.

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

Commonwealth Bank Business Owner Award
Therese Rein - Ingeus & Assure Programs, Brisbane

Hudson Private and Corporate Sector Award
Karla Way-McPhail - Undamine Industries & Coal Train Australia, Yeppoon

Former teacher and educational psychologist Karla Way-McPhail has been CEO for seven years of Undamine Industries, one of the largest privately-owned contracting companies operating in the Bowen Basin coal industry. She also leads Coal Train Australia which achieved registered training organisation status in 2012. Judges recognised her holistic perspective to sustainability, leadership and financial growth, her design and establishment of a successful RTO and her extensive contribution to 10 community and charitable groups.

White Pages® Community & Government Award
Carolyn Devries - New Way Lawyers, Corinda

Carolyn Devries pioneered the model of a non-profit law firm when she established New Way Lawyers in 2009. Her vision is that the practice of law should be more about people and less about profit. She focuses on emotional areas of the law with clients involved in separation, divorce and the loss of loved ones. Judges praised her unwavering integrity, belief and passion in helping people at risk and the entrepreneurship and innovation in her business model. They called her a pioneer in challenging traditional legal models in a sustainable way.

Nokia Business Innovation Award
Carolyn Thompson - Kadoe Commercial Coatings, Pelican Waters

After the impact of Brisbane’s 2011 floods, Kadoe Commercial Coatings General Manager Carolyn Thomson was responsible for ‘weatherproofing’ the business that installs waterproofing on new buildings, polished concrete in retail complexes and epoxy coatings in warehouses and shops. She introduced an innovative process that installs a gentle ‘no grind’ polished concrete that’s unaffected by wet weather and gets better with use. Judges said she solved difficult technical issues in an industry in which she had little background. Her innovations were behind Kadoe’s rapid growth and she continued to innovate to keep ahead of competitors.

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

Since 2010, Chandra Clements, 34, has been CEO of Sentis, an Australian-owned business that applies psychology to safety, wellbeing, organisational and leadership performance for clients in 22 countries. She leads 90 staff in three Australian offices and one in the US with clients in mining, construction, oil and gas. Judges said the accountant turned psychologist possessed fundamentals of an outstanding business person, identified market opportunities and put in place a highly innovative delivery model and was very aware of the broader market place in which her business operates.

2012 Telstra Queensland Business Woman of the Year
Therese Rein - Ingeus & Assure Programs, Brisbane

The Queensland winners proceed to the national finals of the Telstra Business Women’s Awards that will be announced in Sydney on 21 November.  The winners share in $200,000 in cash and prizes split among the state, territory and national winners and become part of an exclusive national business alumni with wide networking opportunities.

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