Leading Public Servant takes out top NSW business womens award

Media Release, 18 October 2013

One of the most senior women in the state’s public sector who was responsible for consolidating 58 separate government entities onto a single finance and payroll system, has been named the 2013 Telstra New South Wales Business Woman of the Year.

Jeannine Biviano, a former nurse who is now Deputy Director General of the Department of Trade and Investment based in Orange, also won the Community and Government Award at tonight’s Telstra New South Wales Business Women’s Awards at the Sydney Hilton.

Her appointment to run a 25-bed neurological ward at the age of 21 gave Ms Biviano confidence that she could achieve more senior leadership positions in the hospital system. She undertook a business degree, graduating with high-level results that led her to a role in KPMG’s Insolvency and Receivership Division - while still nursing at weekends.

Her career change to chartered accountant was complete after she undertook a Masters in Economics.

“The synergies between nursing and working at KPMG were that I was required to make observations, identify problems and fix them. These continue to be the driving principles of my career,” Ms Biviano said.

After five years in financial services, Ms Biviano returned to the health sector and management roles in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. In 2002, aged 37, she became the youngest CEO in NSW Health when appointed to lead the Macquarie Area Health Service, covering the state’s Central and Far West.

Six years later she joined the Department of Primary Industries and when it was later merged into the Department of Trade and Investment, Ms Biviano was appointed Deputy Director General, responsible for finance, strategy and operations of the ‘super department’ that has a $2.5 billion budget and 8000 staff.

One of the key challenges Ms Biviano confronted and now sees as her biggest achievement was rolling out an integrated payroll and finance solution across the department’s 58 statutory entities – including State and Regional Development, Sydney Opera House, Destinations NSW and the NSW Food Authority.

She led her team in implementing the first Software-as–a-Service (SaaS) enterprise resource planning system in the Australian public sector on time and on budget despite scepticism and resistance.

“I like to provide my staff with as much autonomy as possible as I thrive in that environment and assume that other senior operators are like minded. I believe this approach fosters innovation, and my team’s success is testimony to that,” Ms Biviano said.

Other NSW Award winners include Dr Jennifer Wray, owner of Narooma based Lighthouse Surgery and Bermagui Medical Centre, Tessa Ogle, General Manager – Oil and Gas at global consulting engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff, and Anni Brownjohn, founder of Murwillumbah-based The Right Food Group.

Kate McKenzie, Group Managing Director Telstra Innovation, Products and Marketing and Telstra Business Women’s Awards Ambassador, said: “The NSW winners are inspirational business women with extraordinary achievements.

“Judges were impressed by Ms Biviano’s commitment to giving and creating outstanding business outcomes and development opportunities that benefit staff and the wider community – she embodies the values of the Telstra Awards,” Ms McKenzie said.

“They described her as a senior influencer from a regional area who has achieved a world-first SAP implementation with global applicability and benchmarking in commercial and government environments.”

Winners of the 2013 Telstra New South Wales Business Women’s Awards are:

Business Owner Award

Dr Jennifer Wray, Lighthouse Surgery, Narooma
Dr Wray began working as a doctor in Narooma in 1977 in a solo general practice before becoming a partner in a group practice with a hospital attachment 11 years later. In 1994 she co-founded Lighthouse Surgery and later became sole owner, expanding it to a second practice in Bermagui. Dr Wray was named a Member of the Order of Australia in 2013 for her services to rural medicine and was previously named the General Practitioner of the Year by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. In 2003, she founded the Lighthouse Scholarship Fund to assist rural students undertaking tertiary studies away from home. Judges said they were impressed by Dr Wray’s determination to bring her childhood dream to fruition and recognised her ability to tackle large issues such as attracting young doctors to regional areas.

Private and Corporate Sector Award

Tessa Ogle, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Sydney
After university studies, Tessa Ogle joined global consulting engineering firm Parsons Brinckerhoff as a Market Analyst. She was promoted to the roles of National Business Development Manager for the company’s Project and Construction Management Group and Market Leader for the Industrial sector. Offered the opportunity to develop a new group specialising in oil and gas, she now leads 107 people as General Manager – Oil and Gas. Judges said they were impressed by Ms Ogle’s strong strategic vision and commitment to drive change in her industry, describing her as an engaging and optimistic leader who exhibits deep care for individuals combined with thought leadership and a macro view on business. They said she’d built a large and sustainable business from scratch by driving innovation at many levels in a volatile sector.

Community and Government Award

Jeannine Biviano, NSW Department of Trade and Investment, Orange

Business Innovation Award

Anni Brownjohn, The Right Food Group Pty Ltd, Murwillumbah
Raising children with allergies and searching for suitable food products provided Anni Brownjohn with the impetus to create an organic noodle business. Fourteen years later, the Right Food Group, supplies a range of products to retail outlets across Australia and exports to 20 countries. Growing consumer demand for Asian-style noodle products, combined with increasing health awareness, led Ms Brownjohn to develop an Organic Noodle Kitchen range as a healthier alternative to fried noodles. Judges said she was an organic product and process thought leader who had provided many opportunities for the local community and had developed a world first idea that provides health benefits to all including those with food intolerances.

Young Business Women’s Award

Tessa Ogle, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Sydney

2013 Telstra NSW Business Woman of the Year

Jeannine Biviano, NSW Department of Trade and Investment, Orange

The NSW winners proceed to the national finals in Melbourne on 14 November.

CommBank’s Women in Focus program, which opens doors to opportunity for women across Australia, is an Official Partner of the Telstra Business Women’s Awards. The Bank is proud to present each of the category winners with $4,000 prize money. Telstra recognises the New South Wales Business Woman of the Year with a major prize of $10,000.

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