Territory airport manager wins top Telstra Business Women's Award

Media Release, 12 October 2012

A woman with extensive management experience in the aviation industry in Australia and New Zealand was named today as the 2012 Telstra Northern Territory Business Woman of the Year.

Katie Cooper, whose appointment as General Manager of Alice Springs and Tennant Creek Airports followed managerial roles for Air New Zealand in Melbourne and Auckland, also won the Hudson Private and Corporate Sector Award at the Telstra NT Business Women’s Awards in Darwin today.

Ms Cooper has led the two privatised NT airports, owned by the Airport Development Group, since early 2010. She is accountable for the airports’ operations, financials, customer service, emergency and infrastructure management.

She’s faced challenges from the strong Australian dollar and post-GFC tourism by diversifying Alice Springs Airport’s income through property development (for the Kilgariff sub-division), leasing land for aircraft storage, and building a new hangar. The airport’s showcase solar power station also supplies about 28 per cent of its energy needs.

Ms Cooper’s community impact in the NT has spanned roles as an executive member of the Central Australia Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Central Australia and as a judge of Tourism NT’s Brolga Tourism Awards.

An avid traveller, she worked for Ansett Airlines from 1994 and Air New Zealand from 2001. As Regional Airport Manager (Southern) for Air New Zealand in Melbourne, she chaired the Airline Operators Committee, representing all airlines in their dealings with Melbourne Airport as it experienced significant disruption due to terminal expansion.

Ms Cooper says: “I believe my success has been due to my willingness to work hard and to take an opportunity when it becomes available.”

Other Awards winners announced today were Jackie Maclean, Darwin-born Business Manager of Berrimah plumbing business Gold Medal Services, Nancy Jeffrey, NT Manager of the Save The Children Australia program based at Ludmilla, and Lesley Monro, who heads Riding for the Disabled in the Top End, a not-for profit centre at Marlow Lagoon.

Kate McKenzie, Group Managing Director Telstra Innovation, Products & Marketing and Telstra Business Women’s Awards Ambassador, said the Territory winners 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 Katie Cooper was an outstanding role model with a strong focus on delivering positive outcomes. “The Telstra Awards judges described her as highly regarded and respected by colleagues and staff with outstanding communications skills. She has demonstrated resilience, professionalism, ethics and a strong drive in every aspect of managing the complex, multi-faceted business of airport management.”

Mark Steyn, CEO of Hudson Australia/New Zealand said: “As sponsor of the Private & Corporate Sector Award, Hudson is passionate about profiling successful women in business such as Katie Cooper and recognising the hugely valuable contribution they continue to make to corporate and community life. It is a privilege to be associated with an event that showcases the excellent calibre and quality of talented women working in the Northern Territory and across Australia.”

Winners of the 2012 Telstra Northern Territory Business Women’s Awards are:

Commonwealth Bank Business Owner Award
Jackie Maclean - Gold Medal Services (NT) Pty Ltd, Berrimah

As business manager of plumbing maintenance business Gold Medal Services, Jackie Maclean is responsible for strategic planning, risk management, financials and  staff management as well as project managing contracts worth more than $500,000 and new clients such as the Darwin Liquefied Natural Gas Plant. Telstra Judges described her as entrepreneurial and a collaborative industry player with a big focus. They praised her solid knowledge of her business and the industry, her strategic thinking, governance and business compliance and her record in identifying and investing in the potential of young people.

Hudson Private and Corporate Sector Award
Katie Cooper - Alice Springs Airport Pty Ltd, Alice Springs.                  

White Pages® Community & Government Award
Nancy Jeffrey - Save the Children Australia, Ludmilla

Darwin born and bred Nancy Jeffrey joined Save the Children operation eight years ago as a Family Support Worker. Today the proud Woolwonga woman is NT manager of a team of 24 that provides welfare and support to families and shares their culture and values with the broader community. Telstra judges said she has grown her organisation’s effectiveness through collaboration with all parties that could influence outcomes. They said she was a mentor to other health workers and has the ability, through self-reflection, to tell her story and gain the support required to make a difference.

Nokia Business Innovation Award
Lesley Monro - Riding for the Disabled in the Top End, Marlow Lagoon

In 2009 Lesley Monro devoted herself to reviving Riding for the Disabled in the Top End, a not-for-profit that teaches people with a disability how to ride. She manages 20 horses and 120 members and has expanded from teaching equestrian skills to working with disengaged youth and kids in crisis.  Telstra judges were impressed at her innovation in developing the Marlow Lagoon facility by introducing volunteer and mentoring roles for able-bodied youth from the juvenile justice system. They said she has created a unique learning, vocational and educational opportunity based around horse-riding and husbandry.

2012 Telstra Northern Territory Business Woman of the Year
Katie Cooper - Alice Springs Airport Pty Ltd, Alice Springs.      

The Northern Territory 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