Trailblazing Naval Captain is Australia's top business woman

Media Release, 19 November 2015

A business woman who pioneered organisational change within the Australian Navy and led its Fast Frigate System Program was tonight named the 2015 Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year.

Captain Mona Shindy, of New South Wales, 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 her time 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.

In 2013, she became the Chief of Navy’s Strategic Adviser on Islamic Cultural Affairs, a role that creates a better understanding between the Defence Force and the wider Islamic community.

A strong advocate for diversity within the workplace, Captain Shindy was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross for her commitment to cultural change in this year’s Australia Day honours.

Reflecting on her career trajectory and her journey so far, Captain Shindy attributes her success to her values of collaboration, inclusion and empowerment.

“As a senior military officer and engineer, project director and business leader, being successful as a female has always just been one piece of the puzzle,” she said.

“Effecting necessary change, in business practice or community attitudes, requires strong leadership by example. It requires creating environments where people are encouraged to collaborate and innovate, where all contributions are respected and valued, where there is a strong sense of belonging and personal responsibility, then people and organisations are empowered to be their best and to give their best.”

Captain Shindy, Director Littoral Warfare and Maritime Support, was also joint winner of the 2015 Government and Academia Award at the 21st annual Telstra Business Women’s Awards, held at The Peninsula, Docklands, in Melbourne tonight.

Other winners include Jessica May from the Australian Capital Territory, who took home the Start-Up Award, South Australia’s Kate Thiele who received the For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award and Kim Tran from Western Australia who won the Young Business Women’s Award.

Queensland produced three winners: Marie Piccone of Manbulloo (Entrepreneur Award), Katarina Carroll of the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (joint winner Government and Academia) and Catherine Ball (Corporate and Private).

Telstra Business Women’s Award Ambassador and Telstra Chief Operations Officer, Kate McKenzie, said Captain Shindy, and all of the national winners had 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 the respective categories.

“Mona’s ability to unify and inspire as a leader in a traditionally male dominated industry has created lasting business improvement and made way for real change within the Navy. She has faced numerous challenges throughout her career and has met them with resilience and drive.

The Telstra Awards Judges also noted Captain Shindy’s sharp financial acumen in managing substantial budgets and more broadly, her dedication to building and strengthening bridges between the Islamic community and the Navy.

“Mona has undertaken an enormous amount of community work in order to ensure that the diversity and inclusion she works so hard to promote within her own industry extends to the wider community. She is a trailblazer, and an impressive, well-rounded individual,” Ms McKenzie said.

The Telstra Business Women’s Awards were attended by Telstra CEO Andrew Penn, Telstra Chairman Catherine Livingstone AO, senior Telstra executives and Awards Alumni including 2014 Telstra Business Woman of the Year Anne Cross of UnitingCare.

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

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.

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 strong female leader within agriculture.

For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award
Kate Thiele, Guide Dogs SA/NT, Adelaide
After a career in the private sector, Kate Thiele aligned her love of leading dynamic teams with social enterprise and became the Chief Executive of Guide Dogs SA/NT. Kate says the most significant change she has led at Guide Dogs SA/NT is driving the expansion of the Guide Dogs program to include Autism Assistance Dogs. When Kate joined in 2009, the economy was uncertain. Using her sales and marketing experience, Kate brokered a multi-faceted giving program which has tripled turnover, grown active donors from 5,000 to more than 50,000 and grown regular donors from 450 a year to an amazing 21,000. Judges highlighted Kate’s ability to marry her business acumen with her passion for the cause; as well as her innate understanding of the organisation at a grassroots level.

Government and Academia Award
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 with 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, Unmanned Aerial Systems (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.

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