Organic food producer wins top business womens award

Media Release, 14 October 2013

A woman who turned a once-struggling Launceston business into a domestic success with growing reach into Asian markets for its 100 per cent locally made organic formula and toddler milk products has been named the 2013 Telstra Tasmanian Business Woman of the Year.

Laura McBain, CEO of Bellamy’s Organic, also won the Private and Corporate Sector Award and Business Innovation Award at the Telstra Tasmanian Business Women’s Awards at Wrest Point in Hobart tonight.

Originally joining Bellamy’s Organic on a nine-month contract as financial controller, Ms McBain made the business her career passion, leading it to a tenfold increase in turnover from its locally made and certified organic formula and toddler milk.

Thanks to Ms McBain’s six years at the helm, the Bellamy’s Organic brands of infant formula, cereals, ready to eat meals, snacks and toddler milk product lines can be found on the shelves of 3000 outlets in Australia, including Coles, Woolworths, Chemist Warehouse, Toys R Us and Big W.

She has expanded its domestic market share from one per cent to 11 per cent and is exporting to Singapore, China, Vietnam, Hong Kong and New Zealand.

Ms McBain says key factors in her success are a consistent focus on learning, tenacity to maintain the course and remaining curious. Most importantly, she has a healthy respect for ‘walking the talk’.

“I am conscious that those around me constantly perceive my actions, behaviours and attitude, and use these cues to determine how they should act,” she said.

“I can only expect of others what I do myself. If I am enthusiastic, inspired and motivated, then this is the first step toward building motivation in others to achieve goals and outcomes.”

Even outside of work, Ms McBain takes a keen interest in the success of Launceston’s economy by mentoring other local food businesses.

Other Award winners include Amanda Coombe, founder of Personal Best Fitness in North Hobart who overcame negative predictions due to her vision impairment to realise sporting and business success, Heather Francis, CEO of RHH Research Foundation who has introduced a series of innovative and fun fundraising activities, and Melita Griffin, Fundraising Director for the National Heart Foundation’s Tasmanian Division.

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

“The Awards’ judges were impressed with Laura McBain’s outstanding contribution in leading a small Tasmanian business to huge success as an exporter with a recognised brand in a highly competitive and challenging market.”

Winners of the 2013 Telstra Tasmanian Business Women’s Awards are:

Business Owner Award

Amanda Coombe, Personal Best Fitness, North Hobart

Born with only five per cent sight in her left eye, Amanda Coombe never let negative predictions get in the way of achieving her best: she played basketball in the National League for three years, captaining the State as a junior, and graduated with Honours in Education. She later founded and developed the health club Personal Best Fitness, a national finalist four times in the Australian Fitness Business of the Year whose membership grew from 32 to 655 members in the past seven years. Judges said Ms Coombe was an inspirational and motivated leader and a calculated risk-taker, praising her strong social skills, singleminded vision and goal-oriented focus.

Private and Corporate Sector Award

Laura McBain, Bellamy’s Organic, Launceston

Community and Government Award

Heather Francis, RHH Research Foundation, Hobart

Developing innovative ways to improve health and education for Tasmanians is core to the career of Heather Francis. Drawing passion from personal connections to MS, she spearheaded MS Tasmania to become more competitive and effective in its services. A love of research led her to the RHH Research Foundation where she is now CEO. Ms Francis is well regarded for her roles on the Australian Marketing Institute’s National Board and Crime Stoppers Tasmania Board. Judges said Ms Francis was an articulate and a strong role model who has extensive business experience and applies strong governance and rigor to her responsibilities.

Business Innovation Award

Laura McBain, Bellamy’s Organic, Launceston

Young Business Women’s Award

Melita Griffin, National Heart Foundation (Tasmanian Division), Hobart

While raising funds to help develop a skate park in Victoria as a 19-year-old university student, Melita Griffin not only secured major gifts from corporate and prominent individuals but also discovered her calling in life. Today, the 33-year-old is Fundraising Director for the Tasmanian Division of the National Heart Foundation of Australia. She’s delivered an income increase of 113 per cent in the past four years for the organisation that works to improve Australia’s cardiovascular health. Judges recognised Ms Griffin’s 14 years of fundraising experience, her national focus and her achievements in leading and changing fundraising activities.

2013 Telstra Tasmanian Business Woman of the Year

Laura McBain, Bellamy’s Organic, Launceston

The Tasmanian 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 Tasmanian 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 Women's Awards website.