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Telstra Award Winners Women Who Can Help You Succeed In Your Career


Prepare to be inspired… these eight Aussie Telstra Award winning women have achieved incredible things and deserve to be celebrated. Here’s what they want you to know to help you achieve success too…

Anne Cross, the CEO of UnitingCare Queensland has been named the 20th Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year, making this the second year in a row that a Queensland woman has taken out the prestigious national award.

Ms Cross, a former front-line social worker and champion of the not-for-profit sector, has reshaped the way healthcare, community and aged-care services are delivered to hundreds of communities and the thousands of people UnitingCare helps every day.Ms Cross said the win, while being a great personal accolade, would hopefully help to profile the important role the not-for-profit sector plays and help attract even more high-achieving people to offer their skills and talent to valuable community based organisations.

“The health and community services sector is a significant contributor to Australia’s social and economic fabric,” Ms Cross said.

“UnitingCare Queensland is a significant business. As one of Queensland’s largest employers, much of what we do is world class. Hopefully this award will highlight our role and importance in society.”

So ladies, surround yourself with positive, inspiring people and good things happen! This years finalists are eight incredibly talented, high-achieving women who’ve had their fair share of overcoming hurdles. So, we decided to immerse ourselves in the mix and see what magic would rub off on us. Here’s what we learned about these successful leaders, and the advice they have for other business women determined to succeed…

Winner 20th Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year: Anne Cross (QLD), UnitingCare Queensland


Anne Cross is passionate about the not-for-profit sector, particularly about the organisation she has led for the last decade. UnitingCare Queensland is interesting, complex and achieves amazing things, she says. The same could be said about her. Anne was engaged as CEO to undertake the consolidation of the Church’s health and community service operations in Queensland into one organisation. When first appointed in 2003, a challenging merger of more than 100 separate aged care, community services and hospitals had commenced, but the strategy needed clarity and capital investment had stalled. Today UnitingCare is a mature, focused, integrated organisation, thanks to Anne’s governance. As a senior executive in a church-owned human services organisation, personal credibility is critical. Anne’s approach to leading demonstrates enthusiasm, authenticity and presence at the service level. Anne maintains connecting the on-the-ground work with strategy is essential work for a leader in an organisation such as UnitingCare Queensland.

What’s your secret to success?

Relationships are key in all business. We have thousands of stakeholders, so I need to maintain very good relationships – from customers to Government to business leaders. It’s also important to be passionate and authentic about what you do. People can tell in a flash if you’re not being real. You need to know the stories of the organisation and be truly interested.

What’s your tip to other women?

Find someone you respect and talk to them often. Overcome a fear of failure, and be bold and courageous. Build a team with diverse skills and leverage the strength of that team – surround yourself with the best and brightest.

What advice do you have to keep your work life balance on track?

I need more advice. It’s a constant balancing act – for me it’s about keeping exercise up, and my family is really critical – have to keep them in balance. Family is a priority and they know it. I’m dilligent about having time out weekends and early mornings.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?

Just do it. Work out what needs to happens and get on and do it. There are times along way when I’ve tried for too long and too hard to make something work that wasn’t working, You just need to get on and do it.

Biggest inspiration?

Almost anyone who is successful. I’m inspired everyday by people I need and read about who have achieved great things in their life. I’ve always been involved in trying to change the world, so I’m inspired by many others doing the same, like Nelson Mandela.

Twitter: @UnitingCareQld

Career Advancement In Male Dominated Fields with Donna Adams (TAS), Tasmania Police


Donna Adams was the first woman to be appointed as an Assistant Commissioner in the 114-year history of Tasmania Police. Joining the force at 19, she worked across departments before taking on her current role, which she hopes will inspire other women to seek out senior positions. In her 26 years as a police officer she has been recognised with an Australian Police Medal for Distinguished Service and the Tasmania Police Service Medal for diligent and ethical service. Donna received a Commissioner’s Commendation for her work in the aftermath of the devastating 1996 Port Arthur massacre, and has been recognised by the Australasian Council of Women in Policing as an outstanding investigator. Donna is a key member of the senior executive leadership team, seeking to deliver the best policing in a climate of budget restraint, employing cutting-edge technology to help achieve this.

What’s your secret? “I have a strong work ethic and believe I can make a difference,” explains Donna. “I appreciate the importance of maintaining a contemporary understanding of the environment and am committed to life-long learning and development.”

The one percenters – it’s all around managing staff and building a team to achieve goals. Do the one percenters and people will want to work for you – like remembering and celebrating birthdays, knowing about their family, being flexible to allow people to achieve work life balance -this is what people remember and it remind them about why they want to work for you and achieve what your goals are.

What’s your tip to other women?

Take your opportunities. The opportunity door will open at times you can’t expect – have the courage to walk through, take the opportunity and showcase what you can achieve This was great advice I received from Christine Nixon and now I pass it on.

What advice do you have to keep your work life balance on track?

Work is work, home is home – while I’m on call a lot you just do need to make the clear breaks – otherwise you won’t enjoy home time. Work is part of life and must enjoy but you need time for yourself.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?

There are a lot of competitive people and if you want to compete and put yourself forward, you need to have short medium and long term goals, and a plan on how you’re going to achieve them.

Biggest inspiration?

My father had a 40 year career with Coles in their Executive Team. The dedication over those years was amazing to see and I learnt my work ethic from him. I’m also really inspired by my 14 year old son. I’ve seen the impact of my success having such a positive impact on him – so want to ensure he can appreciate what it take to achieve success.

Twitter: @TasmaniaPolice

Advice For Women In The Biomedical Field With Dr Tracey Brown (VIC), Alchemia


Dr Tracey Brown witnessed the deficiencies in current oncology therapies close-up when she lost her mother to cancer. She decided to draw on her 15 years’ experience in biomedical research to develop more effective treatments. She had the vision of taking current anti-cancer therapies and inexpensively turning them into cancer fighting missiles by packaging them into a non-toxic, naturally occurring sugar. After obtaining small grants, Tracey was able to establish a streamlined drug development factory that enabled a seamless transition into early clinical evaluation. This was a key driver in the acquisition of her company (Meditech Research) by Alchemia, which then gave her the financial support for the late-stage development of her cancer targeting drug delivery platform, HyACT. Tracey has learned valuable lessons about delivering commercially-relevant outcomes while balancing the practicalities of fundraising and scientific management in a highly competitive environment. She has had to learn how to achieve milestones as cost-effectively as possible.

What’s your secret?

Believing in myself and being impassioned about what I believe in. You need to focus on that and really believe.

What’s your tip to other women?

Believe in your self-worth and be passionate about what you want to achieve. If you are and can communicate that to others, they’ll be passionate too. Clear open communication is really important as well. Take yourself out of your comfort zone and improve yourself. Find a strong mentor who’s been there before; its easier learning from someone with experience. At the end of day always be yourself – my favourite      quote is from Oscar Wilde “everyone else is taken so be yourself”.

What advice do you have to keep your work life balance on track?

It’s such a juggle. I work long hours at when I’m at work, but when I come home I’m mum. Its more difficult with modern technology know, the temptation to always check your phone, but I’ve made a point of kids coming first and being focused about this when at home.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?

Always have to be honest with yourself and others. Especially in business you need to be honest with your partners and shareholders, if you do this they’ll support you when things go wrong. Manage expectations and what you can achieve- I often set bar too high and am my own worst self-critic.

Biggest inspiration?

My Mum. She always said I could set to mind to anything and achieve it. She’s ispired me in so many ways to go forward. I’m also really inspired by spending time with cancer patienst and their families – seeing what they go through is enough inspiration to spend every waking moment finding a better treatment.

Twitter: @asxacl

The Key To Success With Julie Crisp (NT), Deloitte


When Julie Crisp became a Partner at global professional services firm Deloitte in 2008, she achieved a teenage ambition. As a Partner, she has led an evolution of the business in the NT, from largely providing financial auditing to being a solution provider on business processes, risk management, forensic investigation and other services. During her 16 years at Deloitte, Julie has been recognised internally for her inspirational leadership, client service and staff development. As head of Deloitte’s Darwin Assurance and Advisory division, she says she constantly reinvented herself to meet the needs of clients in large Territory businesses, not-for-profits and the public sector. Outside Deloitte, Julie chairs the Local Government Accounting Advisory Board and is deputy chair of the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education. She recently became the Northern Territory’s first female Auditor General responsible for auditing the Northern Territory Public Accounts.

What’s your secret to success?

Authenticity – I am who I am. Also being prepared to change and to re-engineer myself to remain relevant.

What’s your tip to other women?

Be your own risk manager- just because someone says you can’t, doesn’t mean you can’t. We spend too much time listening to what others say rather than believing in ourselves.

What advice do you have to keep your work life balance on track?

I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. I refer to balance. So find something you love doing in your work. If you love what you do, it doesn’t become trade off. I protect my weekends for my children – there’s not a lot of time during the week.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?

A cultural lesson from working with Indigenous Australians – just because there’s a silence you don’t need to fill it with speech. Often its more important to listen than be heard.

Biggest inspiration?

My mum. She taught a school in the bush. She can drive a dozer. She can start a lister engine with a crank handle. She made our clothes, grew our vegies, I think sometimes she can probably walk on water.

“Sharing your Passion and Surrounding Yourself With Like-Minded People With Samantha Kourtis (ACT), Capital Chemist Charnwood.


At the age of fourteen, working after school in her local pharmacy, Samantha Kourtis knew she had found her vocation. After obtaining a degree, and with five years’ experience as a community pharmacist, she took the next step into management and then pharmacy ownership. In 2013 Samantha became a managing partner in Capital Chemist Charnwood. Her pharmacy is one of 35 in the Capital Chemist Group, all independently owned and managed. As a group they share catalogues, wholesaler agreements, branding and uniforms. In her role as a partner, Samantha is on the Training Committee. On a clinical level Samantha works at least 35 hours a week in the business as a pharmacist. A dedicated community pharmacist, Samantha says affordable, accessible excellence in health care is an essential part of her strategy. Her leadership was recognised in 2014 when Capital Chemist Charnwood was named Pharmacy of the Year by the Australian Pharmacy Guild.

What’s the secret to your success?

Having people around me who share my vision and support the way I create my life. Relationships with people are the key to success.

What’s your tip to other women?

Believe in yourself back yourself and be courageous enough to believe in yourself, because often women are consumed with self-doubt – its ok to believe in yourself. 

What advice do you have to keep your work life balance on track?

It’s not a balance – if a woman that tells me she has work life balance I feel like laughing. I describe myself like a life vest under my friends and family’s seat. I live my life with integrity and prioritise I’m there for them when they need me – it’s about quality not quality. There are always going to be times that balls will be dropped; I just pick them up and get on with it. But I design my life with my family and my work, so that fun recharging things are scheduled in. Make sure that happens.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?

The art of delegation. Historically I was one of world’s best micromanagers – when I stepped into big business, I discovered that that was going to destroy my soul. So I quickly learnt power of delegation. I still remember the moment I came home from work and said to my husband, “Honey, how great is it when you delegate to someone and they do a better job of it than you”. It was a free and liberating moment.

Biggest inspiration?

The people who trust me to look after their health needs- my community is so generous in sharing their worries with me, it inspires me to address their needs and makes me feel blessed to have the life I have with my family

Twitter: @Ccharnwood

Being Authentically Yourself With Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz (NSW), Mirvac


With 25 years in the property industry, working in Australia, Europe, the US and Asia, Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz brings a myriad of skills to her role as CEO and Managing Director of ASX top 50 company Mirvac. Mirvac creates, owns and manages a diverse portfolio of office, retail, industrial and residential assets in Australia. Susan has led complex businesses and strategies at top global companies such as, LaSalle Investment Management, Lend Lease, and Macquarie where she established one of the first real estate funds to invest in Chinese shopping centres. Since joining Mirvac, Susan has successfully delivered on the group’s strategy and inspired her team of 1200 to make a difference for customers and shareholders. Susan sits on the Australasian Advisory Board for INSEAD, the University of Western Sydney Foundation Council and is a Green Building Council Australia Board Member. Her influence is internationally recognised in the male-dominated property industry.

“Along the way, I’ve had some important mentors who have invested in me, taken a risk, held up the mirror for me and guided me,” explains Susan.

What’s your tip to other women?

Be authentically yourself. Find the leadership style that works for you and have it be authentic.

What advice do you have to keep your work life balance on track?

Be very, very efficient and remember that work is what you do not where you are. I like to make a point about visibly going home very loudly – so I can emphasise this.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?

You only have the moment that you’re in, so don’t squander it by worrying about the future or past moments.

Biggest inspiration?

Jon Kabott_zinn who wrote “Wherever your go, there you are”. He created the mindfulness movement 30/40 years ago. I’ve read his work, and watched him, and never seen a more present human being – absolutely inspirational.   I now try hard not to multi-task but focus on what’s at hand

Always consider every aspect when making decisions for change with Erma Ranieri (SA), Office for the Public Sector (Department of the Premier and Cabinet)


Erma Ranieri knows that without engaged employees, change will not succeed. Coming to Australia when she was young, with English as her second language, she saw how government services changed the lives of her parents and relatives and became a passionate believer in what the public sector can achieve. In 2014, Erma was appointed to the role of Commissioner for Public Sector Employment and Chief Executive of the Office for the Public Sector. After a 30-year career helping workplaces optimise productivity and employee wellbeing, Erma knows that a top-down approach does not work, so she set about building a groundswell for reform at all levels. She works with the Premier, Ministers and departmental Chief Executives, as well as staff at other levels, encouraging them to contribute their ideas and take ownership of solutions. Some of the sector’s most exciting and innovative reform programs have come from the office.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?

To always consider every aspect when making a decision. Often emotion can lead you astray and into a particular direction. My lesson is to consider many different sides, don’t have stereotypical views. Different ideas lead to great innovations.

What’s your tip to other women?

Be yourself. Be very confident in your belief in yourself, Women tend not to, if something is not working well, we like to control things and often see them as a personal failure, rather than what’s happening in life. It’s part of the general disruption and growth. Women take this personally but it maybe not be for us to fix. Often we don’t allow others to take the responsibility to fix and we need to.,

What advice do you have to keep your work life balance on track?

Probably not good at it, but I’ve raised two kids, not married, and come from a non-English speaking background. I’ve reconciled these and been a trail blazer and advocate for flexible work change. I was part time when had kids, but couldn’t get promoted in a part-time role, advocated for changing the paradigm that men created its cultural important and created workplace that have the flexibility to allow people to reconcile work and home life. Will be better innovators

Biggest inspiration?

Mother Theresa. She gave herself for the betterment of people much less fortunate. The work I do helps people in workplaces realise their potential, it empowers them to control their lives. I’ve also been inspired by some really great males who advocated for me recently to help me get to where I am now.

Twitter: @ErmaRanieri

Be a Mentor To Other Young Women with Sharon Warburton (WA), Brookfield Multiplex


With modest aspirations to travel the world, Sharon was the first person in her extended family to complete university, graduating as a Chartered Accountant. Following her first role at KPMG, Sharon moved into the corporate sector, thriving in cross-cultural leadership roles in large multinationals from a young age. Today, Sharon holds high-level positions in both the private and not-for-profit sectors. She is the Executive Director Strategy and Finance at Brookfield Multiplex, a leading global construction contractor of landmark projects, and a Non-Executive Director of Fortescue Metals Group (FMG), the fourth largest iron ore producer in the world. Passionate about sharing her knowledge to support not-for-profits, Sharon is on the Board of Perth’s Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation. With significant experience in typically male-dominated industries, Sharon is committed to improving diversity and retention in construction and mining, actively mentoring young women seeking out leadership roles. As a self-confessed reformed workaholic and single mum, she also champions workplace flexibility.

What drives you?

I’m a single mum with a four year old, so I’m driven by a desire to provide and support her. I’m also working in very male industry, so I’m driven by wanting to change the current culture for the next generation and create leaders for tomorrow that have the courage to create change.

What’s your tip to other women?

Believe in yourself. I mentor many people and the most common theme is that women know the answers but lack the confidence to press the go button. I’ve recently set up an online mentoring service Steel Heels (

What advice do you have to keep your work life balance on track?

Very open communication lines with friend,s family, colleagues bosses, and your staff. Also have very strong boundaries and remember it’s OK to say NO. Don’t aim to be superwoman – you don’t have to do everything for everyone – focus on what’s important and outsource everything else

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?

I’m capable of doing a whole lot more than I think. Like many of those I mentor, I lack self-belief -even today – so I remind myself to stay positive and believe in the things I can do and lots more.

Biggest inspiration?

I’m inspired by Julie Bishop. She’s working in an environment where there is not a lot of women around her, and she is a great role model. I’m inspired by her ability to do as much as she does. Iove seeing her out running – great balance – and I also see the local support she gets because she finds time to give back to local community

Twitter: @SharonWarburton

How have these eight Aussie women inspired you? Tell us below!…

Written by TheCarousel

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