SA/NT Guide Dogs CEO wins national business women's award

Media Release, 19 November 2015

South Australia’s Kate Thiele, CEO of Guide Dogs SA/NT has been acknowledged for her hands-on, grass roots approach to the not-for-profit sector and named the 2015 Telstra Australian Business Women’s Awards For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award category winner.

Overall winner of the 2015 SA Telstra Business Women’s Award, Ms Thiele entered the not-for-profit space six years ago with a wide-range of experience across a number of diverse industries including community services, health and manufacturing. Since then she has tripled turnover, grown active donors and clearly articulated the issues facing the sector, particularly around sustained profitability.

Ms Thiele has also overseen the development of Guide Dogs SA/NT to become the first organisation in Australia to run a program for children with autism and has developed South Australia’s first ‘five star’ luxury pet hotel, with all profits raised going back into funding the work of the organisation.

For Ms Thiele, winning the Award will help provide her a platform to highlight the issues facing the sector and encourage other organisations to step-up and take disability out of the shadows.

“The disability sector has been in the shadows for too long, but I’m now proud to lead Guide Dogs SA/NT with a dedicated team of people who want to change lives and do more for the people we support. I am each and every day inspired by our clients and how they live with dignity and purpose,” she said.

The Royal Australian Navy’s Captain Mona Shindy was named the 2015 Telstra Business Woman of the Year.

Captain Shindy is currently Director Littoral Warfare and Maritime Support in the Australian Navy and has had an illustrious career spanning 26 years, where she has led teams in operational roles and in technical support organisations. In a previous role as Fast Frigate System Program Office Director, Captain Shindy was accountable for the availability, maintenance and upkeep of front-line warships, associated logistics and engineering enhancements.

Telstra Chief Operations Officer and Telstra Business Women’s Award Ambassador, Kate McKenzie, said all of the national winners have demonstrated incredible resolve and determination throughout their careers.

“The 2015 Telstra Business Women’s Awards winners are seven brilliant, courageous women who have pushed the boundaries and truly innovated in their respective business categories.

“The Awards judges were impressed with the way Kate intrinsically understands the challenges facing the not-for-profit sector, in particular the profitability of these organisations and how to improve this.”

“She has a fantastic balance of experience from her commercial and corporate background and a holistic approach to the sector with the tenacity to get things done,” Ms McKenzie said.

Held tonight (18th November) in Melbourne, the Telstra Business Women’s Awards were attended by Telstra Chairman Catherine Livingstone AO, Telstra CEO Andrew Penn and Awards Alumni including 2014 Telstra Business Woman of the Year Anne Cross.

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

2015 Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year
Captain Mona Shindy, Royal Australian Navy, Maroubra
After 26 years’ service in the Royal Australian Navy, Captain Mona Shindy’s current role is vital to Australia’s future military preparedness. As Director Littoral Warfare and Maritime Support, she presents business cases to government for acquisition of affordable and suitable Defence assets including patrol boats, tankers, and littoral warfare equipment. Migrating to Australia from Egypt when she was three, Mona has led teams in operational roles as a weapons engineer on warships and in technical support organisations. In 2013, Mona became the Chief of Navy's Strategic Adviser on Islamic Cultural Affairs, receiving a Conspicuous Service Cross for this work on Australia Day 2015. Judges were struck by Mona’s strength in the face of adversity and her determination to effect change and pave the way for those who follow in her footsteps.

Start-Up Award
Jessica May, Enabled Employment, Canberra
In 2011 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 in 2014. Enabled Employment is an online portal offering flexible employment for people with disability or Australian Defence Force members with post-traumatic stress and other injuries. The business is owned, run and managed by people with disability and employs an Australian Defence Force veteran to assist with employment of other veterans. Enabled Employment has filled more than 100 positions of the 240 advertised in the last twelve months. The Telstra Awards judges praised Jessica’s tenacity in changing the way people with disability are perceived by employers, and expanding job options for people with disability.

For Purpose and Social Enterprise
Kate Thiele, Guide Dogs SA/NT, Adelaide

Entrepreneur Award

Marie Piccone, Manbulloo, Horseshoe Lagoon
Marie Piccone is a leading figure in Australia’s mango industry and Managing Director of Manbulloo, the nation’s largest producer of popular Kensington Pride mangoes. After 18 years running Piccone Horticultural Consultancy with clients in Australia, New Zealand and Asia, Marie bought three mango plantations in 2005 and in 10 short years has developed a sophisticated business that is revolutionising the mango production industry. The Telstra Awards judges praised Marie’s visionary leadership, her dedication to growth and inspiration as a female trailblazer within agriculture.

Government and Academia Award- joint winner
Captain Mona Shindy, Royal Australian Navy, Maroubra

Katarina Carroll, Queensland Fire & Emergency Services, Brisbane

The first woman to be appointed Commissioner of Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) in 2015, Katarina Carroll has carved an impressive career within a largely male-dominated workplace. QFES is the primary provider of fire and emergency services in Queensland and Katarina’s role is to drive change including setting the vision and strategic direction. Last year, as Queensland Police Assistant Commissioner, Katarina led the Queensland Police Service (QPS) G20 security operation in Brisbane. Judges described Katarina as a visionary leader, who has driven substantial cultural change and championed gender diversity in her position.

Corporate and Private Award
Dr Catherine Ball, Brisbane
Dr Catherine Ball has delivered a number of world firsts the use of drones for environmental and infrastructure surveying. This includes high-resolution, 3D-walkthroughs of remote islands from data collected by drones, enabling scientists to assess turtle rookeries without leaving the office. Catherine is an active contributor to Emberin’s My Mentor Ignite: Courageous Women program and a mentor for the Smith Family, where she supports a pair of young female twins. She is passionate about more women becoming involved in technology and innovation, particularly in male dominated areas such as aviation, technology, UAS, big data and science. Telstra Awards judges praised Catherine as an inspiring, bright and vibrant leader - someone who stands up in the face of a system that needs change, identifies solutions and makes things happen.

Young Business Women’s Award
Kim Tran, La Belle Peau Skincare Clinic, Perth
Kim Tran opened her first skin and beauty clinic in 2007 at the age of 19, a year after she was Student of the Year in Dermal Science at Curtin University. As Managing Director of La Belle Peau Skincare Clinic, the dermal therapist runs a business offering clients cosmeceutical skincare, paramedical skin treatments and beauty treatments. While a coach and role model for her team of experienced dermal and beauty therapists, Kim is highly-motivated to ensure she stays abreast of the industry’s latest technology in skin and beauty treatments. The judges were impressed by Kim’s determination to change the lives of others through both her business and her wider work within the community.