Naval Captain committed to cultural change named New South Wales business woman of the year

Media Release, 29 October 2015

Captain Mona Shindy, a weapons engineer, cultural advisor, and business leader in the Royal Australian Navy, has been named the 2015 Telstra NSW Business Woman of the Year.

Captain Shindy, Director Littoral Warfare and Maritime Support, has amassed a wealth of experience throughout her 26 years in the Royal Australian Navy, including representing the country in Washington DC on the Australian Air Warfare Destroyer Program. In her current role, she is responsible for the acquisition of the nation’s major defence assets.

With a strong passion for cultural diversity and inclusion, she was recently appointed Chief of Navy’s Strategic Adviser on Islamic Cultural Affairs and was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross for her commitment to cultural change in the 2015 Australia Day honours.

Captain Shindy also took home the Government and Academia Award at the 21st annual Telstra NSW Business Women’s Awards, held at Doltone House, Darling Island, tonight.

A passionate advocate for cohesive, inclusive and respectful workplaces, Captain Shindy said one of her greatest strengths was the ability to clearly communicate the benefits of shifting prevailing attitudes and behaviours.

“I love to inspire people to be innovative and step out of their comfort zones to see things from a different perspective. I want people to be true to themselves without fear or discrimination and be respected for their varying views and contributions,” she said.

Telstra Chief Operations Officer and Telstra Business Women’s Award Ambassador, Kate McKenzie, said Captain Shindy and all the NSW winners have achieved impressive results in their respective areas of business.

“The 2015 NSW 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 applauded Captain Shindy’s commitment towards cultural change within the Royal Australian Navy and her ability to push for diversity to make Australia’s defence force a more inclusive one.

“Mona has been a trailblazer during her career with the Navy, driving huge organisational change. Her ability to influence change is a rare thing to witness and is truly inspiring,” Ms McKenzie said.

Tonight’s Telstra NSW Business Women’s Awards winners come from diverse industries, including defence, real estate, marketing, technology and healthcare.

The Corporate and Private Award went to Penelope Diamantakiou, CFO and HR Director at Yahoo!7, one of the most comprehensive and engaging online destinations for Australian consumers, while the Start-Up Award winner was Zoe Pointon, who co-founded, a free online real estate agent site that ranks and reviews thousands of agents across the nation.

The Young Business Women’s Award was presented to Lindsay Rogers for her creative content company, Chello, the Entrepreneur Award was picked up by Naomi Whitfeld, who founded all-natural beauty skincare brand iKOU, and Libby Davies, CEO of White Ribbon Australia, took home the For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award.

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

2015 Telstra New South Wales Business Woman of the Year
Captain Mona Shindy, Royal Australian Navy, Maroubra

Start-Up Award
Zoe Pointon,, Bondi Junction
Zoe Pointon co-founded in 2013 and as co-CEO, is responsible for setting the vision of the business, hiring the right people and securing financial backing. is a free online real estate agent ranking and review platform that compares more than 40,000 real estate agents based on more than a million sales transactions and 10,000 customer reviews. Zoe has grown the business to more than $3.7 million in revenue, 6,000 customers and 35 staff. Recently Zoe secured $6 million from Hollard Investments, bringing the total funding of the business to $8 million. The Telstra judges believed that Ms Pointon has incredible leadership skills and is a future leader for Australian business.

Entrepreneur Award
Naomi Whitfeld, iKOU, Blue Mountains
In 2007, Naomi Whitfeld founded iKOU with her husband Paul, making natural Australian skin care and body products, candles and organic herbal teas. Naomi says resourcefulness and budgeting are in her nature. Today Naomi is the driving force and public face of iKOU, a Japanese word meaning ‘to rest, to relax, to restore’. There are now three stores, and iKOU products are available in world-leading hotels and spas in Australia and across Asia. Judges were impressed with her dynamic presence and her ability to grow iKOU to the business it is today with minimal mentoring.

For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award
Libby Davies, White Ribbon Australia, North Sydney
CEO of White Ribbon Australia, Libby Davies describes herself as a passionate social justice campaigner, mother, professional working woman, colleague and friend. After starting her career as a social science teacher, Libby moved into national social policy, pursuing her ambition to be part of driving social change. White Ribbon Australia is a not-for-profit national organisation working to prevent men’s violence against women by engaging men to be the drivers of change. Over the past four years Libby has quadrupled income and has engaged 2,000 male White Ribbon ambassadors. The Telstra Award judges said Libby is a natural leader, is highly articulate, passionate and is creating an enormous impact to society through her work.

Government and Academia
Captain Mona Shindy, Royal Australian Navy, Maroubra

Corporate and Private Award
Penelope Diamantakiou, Yahoo!7, Millers Point
With the dual role of CFO and HR Director of Yahoo!7, Penelope Diamantakiou’s accountability extends to all commercial, financial, organisational change and people and culture activities across Australia and New Zealand. Penelope helps drive the strategic agenda and future vision for the business to effect change and deliver sustainable and enduring value. Judges were impressed with her solid work background and unconventional leadership methods, which have proven highly successful at Yahoo!7.

Young Business Women’s Award
Lindsay Rogers, Chello, Surry Hills
As Business Director of creative content agency Chello, Ms Rogers is responsible for the finances, project scope, employment, business contracts and key accounts. Chello produces video content, animation and design services for Australian and multinational brands and organisations. In the past 12 months, Chello has grown to more than 30 clients and seven full-time staff. Awards judges commended her attitude toward developing the business in a short space of time and commitment to constantly improving its services.

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