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A mother of four children under ten who owns and leads a healthy foods business that exports to 32 countries was named today as the 2012 Telstra Victorian Business Woman of the Year.
Carolyn Creswell is sole owner and Managing Director of Carman’s Fine Foods, which supplies 22 product lines, including muesli and porridge, muesli bars and biscuits, to major Australian supermarket chains and independent stores. She also won the Commonwealth Bank Business Owner Award at the Awards ceremony held in Melbourne today.
When she was 18, Ms Creswell bought a small muesli business for $1000 and renamed it Carman’s. Two years later she bought out her business partner.
She has been at the helm of her Cheltenham-based business for 19 years, charting its manufacturing growth using Australian ingredients and local packaging and driving its wholesale distribution and brand. Carman’s Fine Foods employs 127 people and, in addition to its branded products, supplies a healthy product range to a major Australian home meal delivery company.
Ms Creswell faced challenging times and rejection when trying to win and retain positions in the stores of local and overseas retailers. She said: “I learnt not to take rejection personally and to persevere as ‘no’ doesn't necessarily mean ‘no’ forever, it's just ‘no’ for now.”
Carman’s now supplies Qantas and Virgin’s international flights and major retailers such as Tesco in Malaysia, Sainsbury’s in the UK and Whole Foods Market in the US. Ms Creswell said: “One of my greatest thrills was leaving a supermarket shelf in the heart of New York City groaning under the weight of our products and coming back the next morning to find the shelves empty.”
Other Awards winners included Michelle Loader, CEO of Australia’s first provider of fully outsourced hospitality housekeeping services AHS Hospitality, Mandy Burns, CEO of St Kilda-based not-for-profit Ardoch Youth Foundation, Maureen Clifford, founder of environmental accounting and reporting business Ndevr Pty Ltd, and Torie Mackinnon, Managing Director of Sorrento-based Moonraker Dolphin Swims.
Kate McKenzie, Group Managing Director Telstra Innovation, Products & Marketing and Telstra Business Women’s Awards Ambassador, said the winners in Victoria were inspirational business women and leaders in their sectors. “They have displayed innovation in their business or community that influences and motivates others and their achievements are cause for celebration,” she said.
Ms McKenzie said Telstra Awards judges were impressed by the local and international success and longevity of the business that Carolyn Creswell has owned and run for 19 years. “Carolyn stood out in the judges’ opinion for the sound business performance and growth plan for Carman’s Fine Foods, as well as for the culture she has developed and the leadership she demonstrates both within the business and externally in passionately promoting her brand,” she said.
Karen James, General Manager Affiliate Business Banking and Women in Focus at CommBank said: “I’d like to congratulate Carolyn Creswell on her success in the food retail industry and for her contribution to the Australian economy, the business community, and society. We look forward to further sharing Carolyn’s story and expertise with the womeninfocus.com.au community.”
Ms James said the number of women entrepreneurs was growing faster than men, with role models like Carolyn Creswell and the other women coming through the Telstra Business Women’s Awards playing a critical part in paving the way forward for the next generation of female innovators.
Winners of the 2012 Telstra Victorian Business Women’s Awards are:
Commonwealth Bank Business Owner Award
Carolyn Creswell - Carman’s Fine Foods, Cheltenham
Hudson Private and Corporate Sector Award
Michelle Loader - AHS Hospitality, Melbourne
Michelle Loader began her 20-year hospitality career in 1992 and her current role as CEO of AHS Hospitality in 2008. Established in 1994, AHS provides outsourced housekeeping and other managed services for 150 hotels in Australia. Judges praised her leadership capabilities from grass roots to board level, her employee engagement with 4500 staff of 87 nationalities and her business results which include turnover growth of 60 per cent in three years.
White Pages® Community & Government Award
Mandy Burns - Ardoch Youth Foundation, St Kilda
Starting as a volunteer 15 years ago, psychologist Mandy Burns has been CEO for the past five years at Ardoch Youth Foundation, a not-for-profit that runs learning and wellbeing programs for 12,000 disadvantaged Australian children and young people aged three to 18. Judges praised her strategic strength and transformation leadership, and particularly the changes to an evidence-based business model that she has led, as well as her strong community involvement and her great relationships with a diverse group of stakeholders.
Nokia Business Innovation Award
Maureen Clifford - Ndevr Pty Ltd, Melbourne
In 1998 Maureen Clifford established an IT consultancy Ndevr Pty Ltd (pronounced Endeavor) that became an Oracle-certified partner. Two years ago, the Ndevr CEO started a Environmental Consulting Division to perform carbon and energy audits, assurance and other strategy consulting for businesses. Judges described Maureen as a quiet achiever with considerable business insight. They praised her determination in creating the new sustainability-focused program and evaluation method and her leadership and staff retention.
marie claire Young Business Women’s Award
Torie Mackinnon - Moonraker Dolphin Swims, Sorrento
Torie Mackinnon is Managing Director of Sorrento-based business Moonraker Dolphins Swims, Victoria’s largest dolphin swim operator that caters for 14,000 visitors a season between October and May. She worked her way from deckhand to lead the family business that strives to provide sustainable marine tourism. Judges said her high personal values and outstanding people leadership come through in the competitive tourism market, adding she had turned the company into a highly-recognised and profitable eco-tourism business.
2012 Telstra Victorian Business Woman of the Year
Carolyn Creswell - Carman’s Fine Foods, Cheltenham
The Victorian winners proceed to the national finals of the Telstra Business Women’s Awards that will be announced in Sydney on 21 November. The winners share in $200,000 in cash and prizes split among the state, territory and national winners and become part of an exclusive national business alumni with wide networking opportunities.
More information on the Telstra Business Women’s Awards can be found at www.telstrabusinesswomensawards.com