News & Analysis

Winners announced for NAB Women's Agenda Leadership Awards

- March 6, 2014 2 MIN READ

In 2013, Hilary Clinton said, “Women remain as the world’s largest untapped reservoir of talent.” While this comment still resonates with our culture, in Sydney’s Doltone House, hundreds of people gathered to recognise and celebrate female talent across Australia.

Former Queensland Premier and now CEO of YWCA NSW, The Hon. Anna Bligh spoke about resilience at the NAB Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards and congratulated all the finalists on pushing through adversity, conquering their challenges and hitting their goals.

“Coming from the tumultuous world of politics, I know how hard it is to keep going, to push through the difficult times and dust yourself off and get back up; only to face another stumbling bock or someone else telling you, ‘You can’t do it’”, said Bligh.

“There are so many examples of women who have forged the path that we now walk whose achievements may not have been recognised and we salute them for their courage, their tenacity and their resilience. I congratulate every woman who has made the short list for the awards and every person who took the time to nominate someone they thought deserved recognition for their achievements.”

Women’s Agenda received hundreds of nominations for the awards, and the calibre of entrants exceeded their expectations. According to Women’s Agenda Editor, Angela Priestley, “Just getting to the finalist stage is an incredible achievement given the number and quality of nominations received.” 

Without further ado, these are the award winners:

Hall of Fame – Ann Sherry AO, CEO of Carnival Australia

Ann Sherry AO was inducted into the NAB Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards Hall of Fame at the awards ceremony. Currently the CEO of cruise ship operator Carnival Australia, Sherry is best known for promoting corporate management policies and practices that embrace gender equality.

She arrived at Westpac in 1990s; and then CEO Bob Joss, an American who had just arrived, asked where all the women were and what could be done to make Westpac an employer of choice. Her answer was simple: offer paid maternity leave.

Less than a year later, under Sherry’s leadership, Westpac introduced paid maternity leave – which created a domino effect in corporate Australia. Australian women are indebted to Sherry for her perseverance towards introducing what was then a bold and ambitious policy.

Emerging Talent

In the “emerging talent” categories:

  • Bridget Loudon, Founder of startup Expert360 was named ‘Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year’;
  • Rachel Towart, CEO of Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre was named ‘Emerging Leader in the Non-for-Profit sector’;
  • Michelle Bennetts Executive GM, Aviation Rescue & Fire Fighting, Airservices Australia, was named ‘Emerging Leader in the Public Sector’; and
  • Fay Calderone, Director of Matthews Folbigg Lawyers was named ‘Emerging Leader in the Private Sector’.

Male or Female Change Champion of the Year

Andrew Brewer, Manager of Caltex Kurnell Refinery was named ‘Change Champion of the Year’, with Carol Schwartz AM, Founder Chair of Women’s Leadership Institute Australia receiving a ‘highly commended’ in the same category.

Other Categories

Other winners include Ernst & Young Sydney Managing Partner Lynn Kraus, who was named ‘Mentor of the Year’, and Sageco General Manager Allison Monroe, named the 2014 ‘Agenda Setter’. Zoe Waters, Director of Barwon Health, also took out the ‘Regional/Rural Entrepreneur of Year’ award.

Major partner for the second year running, NAB, will continue its involvement with the Women’s Agenda Leadership Awards in 2015.

Jacinta Carboon, Project Director, Women and Money, NAB, commented: “Since launching the inaugural Awards in 2013, we have and will continue to share with the Women’s Agenda team a passion for seeing women succeed and helping them feel empowered economically. It is through these Awards that we can together help unearth amazing talent, who are an inspiration to us all”.