Women in the public sector and education shine brightly in ACT awards

Media Release, 28 September 2015

Top Canberra public servants and leading educators are among 19 finalists for the 2015 Telstra ACT Business Women’s Awards.

Women at the top of the Commonwealth Public Service named as finalists include:

  • Canberra-raised and educated Jan Harris, who in 2013 was the first woman appointed Deputy Secretary of Treasury in the traditional male stronghold’s 112-year history. She says: “Influence comes through trust and provision of effective advice … to be influential I had to be a reliable and authoritative voice with a deep understanding of the issues and a good grasp of stakeholder view.”
  • Felicity McNeill, a leader and instigator of public sector reforms during her 17 years in Canberra. Previously First Assistant Secretary, Pharmaceutical Benefits Division of the Department of Health, she now heads the Office of Health Protection.

Other finalists working in the education sector in the ACT include:

  • Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington, a Rhodes Scholar and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic of Australian National University who says education is the best investment you can make to create a better world.
  • Former school teacher Jo Whithear who launched a specialised reading centre called Canberra Reading Clinic. A council member of Learning Difficulties Australia, she says: “To witness the joy of taking a non-reader to a competent reader is life changing for them and their families.”
  • Linda Spurr, who is accountable for training and education at Airservices Australia. General manager of Airservices Learning Academy since 2012, she leads a workforce of 450, including 250 trainees. She says: “I found my niche in education and career pathways. Creating opportunities for people straight out of school or mature students who need a change and support is very satisfying.”

Telstra Chief Operations Officer and Telstra Business Women’s Awards Ambassador, Kate McKenzie, said ACT business women were excelling in a broad range of sectors.

“Now in their 21st year, the Telstra Business Women’s Awards not only celebrate women who have the courage to start their own business and lead their industries, but also offer them a platform to encourage others to challenge the status quo and think differently,” Ms McKenzie said.

“The 2015 ACT finalists join a long list of successful business women, whose unique and innovative approaches to leadership at state and local community levels, and in some cases, globally, continue to impress and inspire the Awards judges.”

The 19 finalists join TBWA Alumni including Department of Finance Deputy Secretary Jan Mason, CARE Australia Chief Executive Dr Julia Newton-Howes, and ACT Human Rights and Discrimination Commissioner Dr Helen Watchirs.

Vanessa Nolan-Woods, General Manager Business & Private Banking and Women in Focus, CommBank, a long-term partner of the Telstra Business Women’s Awards, said: “The ACT Telstra Business Women’s Awards finalists are achieving extraordinary things.

“This is exactly the mandate of Women in Focus – to support women to succeed across diverse industries and become positive role models for other women through connection and collaboration. Women in Focus is proud to support these awards and play a proactive part in encouraging future trailblazers.”

Finalists for the 2015 Telstra ACT Business Women’s Awards are:

Start-up Award
Katie Doherty, Solution Solution, Canberra
Katie Geus, Fudie, Barton
Jessica May, Enabled Employment, Canberra
Claire Naidu, Claire Naidu & Co Lawyers & Mediators, Gungahlin
Joanna Richards, Solution Solution, Canberra

Nicole Damiani, Farmers Daughter, Yarralumla
Karen Porter, Solace Creations Double Glazing, Canberra
Jenni Tarrant, Bond Hair Religion, Kingston
Jo Whithear, Canberra Reading Clinic, Lyneham

For Purpose and Social Enterprise
Philippa Moss, AIDS Action Council of the ACT, Turner
Tara Taubenschlag, Send Hope Not Flowers, Barton

Government and Academia
Jan Harris, The Treasury, Canberra
Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington, Australian National University, Acton
Felicity McNeill Australian Government Department of Health, Canberra, Phillip
Linda Spurr, Airservices Australia, Canberra
Georgeina Whelan JHC, Department of Defence, Campbell Park

Corporate and Private
Melanie Andrews, CIC Australia Limited, Canberra City
Sue Levy, Goodwin Aged Care Services, Farrer
Sarah Valentine, Raytheon Australia, Canberra Airport

Young Business Women’s Award
Katie Geus, Fudie, Barton
Joanna Richards, Solution Solution, Canberra

Winners of the 2015 ACT Victorian Business Women’s Awards will be announced on Friday 23 October in Canberra. The ACT winners proceed to the national finals in Melbourne on 18 November.

For more information on the Telstra Business Women’s Awards and to nominate brilliant business women for the 2016 Awards, visit www.womensawards.com.