Military health management leader named ACTs business woman of the year

Media Release, 29 October 2015

An established veteran with more than 30 years of military service and an impressive track record of leading health management programs has been named the 2015 Telstra Australian Capital Territory Business Woman of the Year.

Georgeina Whelan, Director-General, Garrison Health Operations, Joint Health Command for the Australian Department of Defence, is responsible for leading 54 military health facilities and 1,800 staff across Australia, providing healthcare to 56,000 full-time and 15,000 part-time Australian Defence Force (ADF) members.

During her career she has undertaken a number of overseas deployments including Northern Sumatra, Indonesia, where she commanded the ANZAC Field Hospital following the devastating Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004. Her involvement earned her the Order of Australia honour and Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove applauded her humility and leadership skills, praising her ability to inspire people to achieve extraordinary things under arduous conditions.

Brigadier Whelan also won the Government and Academia Award at tonight’s 21st annual Telstra ACT Business Women’s Awards, which was attended by Yvette Berry MLA, ACT Minister for Women, at the National Arboretum, Canberra Village Centre.

Brigadier Whelan, who also has a Conspicuous Service Cross for her instrumental involvement in developing an ADF rehabilitation and mental health program in 2003, said her forte is the ability to manage, lead and inspire her team to achieve success.

“I am not afraid to ask questions, champion new initiatives and encourage innovation,” she said.

“The world needs women who inspire commitment, loyalty, excellence and diversity to deliver great outcomes irrespective of the field they are in. I am passionate about ensuring that the ADF delivers high-quality care to our ill, injured and wounded personnel and I am driven to continually improve the healthcare services accessed by our members.”

Telstra Chief Operations Officer and Telstra Business Women’s Award Ambassador, Kate McKenzie, said Brigadier Whelan and all the Australian Capital Territory winners had achieved impressive results in their respective areas of business.

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

Ms McKenzie said the Telstra Awards judges commended Brigadier Whelan’s commitment to challenging the status quo and bringing transformation to the ADF’s healthcare services, as well as being an advocate of diversity and inclusion.

“Georgeina has completely reformed healthcare at the ADF. Her energy and commitment to putting our ill, injured and wounded soldiers first has not gone unnoticed. She has not only made them a priority but has evolved the way we take care of our officers and their families.”

The 2015 Telstra ACT Business Women’s Awards winners come from various industries including science, health, employment services and communications. Jessica May of Enabled Employment, an online portal offering flexible employment for people with a disability or ADF members with post-traumatic stress and other injuries, received the Start-Up Award; while the Corporate and Private Award went to Sarah Valentine, Director of Corporate Affairs and Communications at Raytheon Australia.

The Young Business Women’s Award was earned by Joanna Richards for the innovative laundry detergent, Solution Solution and the Entrepreneur Award was picked up by Karen Porter, Owner of Solace Creations Double Glazing. Philippa Moss, Executive Director of the AIDS Action Council proudly went home with the For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award.

The Australian Capital Territory winners will proceed to the national finals in Melbourne on Wednesday 18 November.

2015 Telstra Australian Capital Territory Business Woman of the Year
Georgeina Whelan, Joint Health Command, Department of Defence, Campbell Park

Start-Up Award
Jessica May, Enabled Employment, Canberra
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. The online platform offers flexible employment for people with disabilities or ADF members with post-traumatic stress and/or other injuries. The business is owned, run and managed by people with disabilities and ADF veterans to assist with employment of other veterans. The Telstra Award judges praised her strength in overcoming adversity and helping others do the same.

Entrepreneur Award
Karen Porter, Solace Creations Double Glazing, Canberra
In 2011 public servant Karen Porter started Solace Creations Double Glazing, a business that specialises in energy efficient windows and doors in Canberra. As CEO and Director, Karen’s role includes managing staff, strategic relationships and planning. In the four years since its inception, Karen has grown the business from a start-up to more than $3.5 million in turnover. A mother of five children, she employs seven people in the business, two of whom are her own children. Telstra judges commended her entrepreneurial spirit and passion for sustainability, which has helped grow the business to where it is today.

For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award
Philippa Moss, AIDS Action Council of the ACT, Turner
Philippa Moss, Executive Director of the AIDS Action Council, manages and leads the not-for-profit organisation and drives its success. She oversees its fiscal activities and is responsible for the organisation’s legal compliance, adherence to policy, and general management, as well as its integration into the community. Operating for more than 30 years, the AIDS Action Council provides care and support to people who are living with and impacted by HIV and AIDS. This includes counselling, case management, peer support and advocacy. Philippa is a board member of the National LGBTI Health Alliance. Judges were impressed with her ability to thrive in a sector that still suffers under significant stigma, and remain commercially savvy by actively sourcing funding and diversifying income.

Government and Academia
Georgeina Whelan, Joint Health Command, Department of Defence, Campbell Park

Corporate and Private Award

Sarah Valentine, Raytheon Australia, Canberra
Working with Raytheon Australia for more than 11 years, Sarah Valentine is Director of Corporate Affairs and Communications with responsibility for Australia, Japan and South Korea. She is responsible for advertising, corporate identity, public relations, media management, organisational communications, web and social media messaging, as well as community relations. Raytheon is a technology and innovation leader specialising in defence, government and cybersecurity markets throughout the world. Telstra Award judges noted Sarah’s resilience and her strong focus on culture within the organisation, helping to shape the strategy for Raytheon in Australia.

Young Business Women’s Award
Joanna Richards, Solution Solution, Canberra
Understanding the high risks involved when wearing a $3,000 costume and a full face of makeup, Joanna Richards, an experienced theatre and film performer, co-founded Solution Solution in 2014.
The scientific laundry brand has developed a product with the CSIRO to remove makeup from fabric without damaging clothing. Joanna says this product is a godsend for performers, brides and fashion retailers who heavily discount their stock due to makeup marks. Joanna is responsible for branding, marketing, design and sales. The Telstra Award judges applauded Joanna’s attitude calling her a great ambassador for the awards and a model of balance for the next generation.

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