Jahna Cedar is the 16th First Amongst Equals winner. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Cedar named 40under40 First Amongst Equals

Thursday, 9 March, 2017 - 06:56

Gumala Aboriginal Corporation executive officer Jahna Cedar has been named the 2017 Business News 40under40 First Amongst Equals, taking the top honour ahead of an impressive field of Western Australia’s young business and community leaders.

More than 600 people attended the gala event at Crown Towers last night to celebrate the 16th year of the 40under40 Awards.

Ms Cedar is an indigenous community leader and Nyiyaparli traditional owner from Port Hedland, and has played a key role in repositioning the Gumala Aboriginal Corporation through a period of dramatic change.  

Passionate about empowering and building the capacity of her people, Ms Cedar has won numerous awards for her community activism, and was one of three Australian women selected to attend the 61st session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, which takes place in New York next Monday.

Last night, Ms Cedar was also named the winner of the CCI Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander category.

Other category winners included Floveyor chief executive Rhys Walker for family business, Jarman McKenna partner Andrew Lu for professional services, and Austral Fisheries general manager Dylan Skinns for the medium business category. 

In addition to Ms Cedar, there were three other finalists for the First Amongst Equals, who also took out top prizes in several category awards:

Former Young Australian of the Year Akram Azimi also won the St Vincent De Paul community service award; SPARK Co-lab director Peter Santa Maria was the small business/startup category winner; and Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research scientist Kevin Pfleger was named winner of the intrapreneur category.  

Dr Pfleger also received the City of Perth Strategic Alliance Award.

Ms Cedar’s journey

Ms Cedar currently heads the Gumala Aboriginal Corporation, which in the past three years has experienced a nearly 80 per cent fall in income, from $18.9 million in 2014-15 to just $4.8 million last financial year, due to lower iron ore prices and reduced ground disturbance.

It also went from a staff of 100 to just 10 currently.

Ms Cedar has had to manage this change, build a new culture and found the benefits and opportunities in a trying situation.

Armed with a diverse professional background in project management, HR, and having run her own business, Ms Cedar has been able to rise to the challenge.

Ms Cedar spoke to Business News reporter Mark Beyer about a career she has built by blending business acumen with her indigenous heritage as part of our 40under40 feature.

You can read more about her story and the remaining First Amongst Equals finalists online this afternoon and in our next print edition on Monday.

Congratulations to the 40under40 class of 2017

Akram Azimi: The University of Western Australia

Joseph Barbaro: Barbaro Homes

Nicholas Bodley: MTi Group

Jahna Cedar: Gumala Aboriginal Corporation

Caroline Chan: Westpac Banking Corporation

Keegan Crage: On My Feet 

Carl Della: Corporeal Health 

Jenny Do: Warwick Grove Florist

Brent Fairhead: Lawrence

Kate Fielding: Goldfields Esperance Development Commission

Renee Gardiner: Growing Change

Amanda Gauci: Pulse Property Solutions 

Dieter Gebauer: The Park Private Hospital / Specialist Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery

James Graham: Borrello Graham Lawyers

Nathan Hood: Carbon Group

Jasmine Hulls: Physio Group South West

Siobhan Lancaster: Instatruck

Andrew Lu: Jarman McKenna

Tim Lyons: One Atmosphere

Yasemin Malyniak: Optus Business Centre Perth

Sarah Mateljan: CourseGenius

Zoe McAlpine: Breast Cancer Care WA

Brodie McCulloch: Spacecubed

Adam Mitchell: Black Swan State Theatre Company

Callum Ormonde: The University of Western Australia

Kevin Pfleger: Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research

James Russell: Loscam Australia 

Peter Santa Maria: SPARK Co-Lab

Matthew Sear: Best IT & Business Solutions 

Jamie Shaw: NECT

Dylan Skinns: Austral Fisheries

Jonathan Smith: Wattnow Electrical

Matthew Thomas: Highs and Lows

Scott Thompson: Terrestrial Ecosystems

Adam Voges: WACA

Rhys Walker: Floveyor 

Amy Ward: Anthologie

Andrew Whitehouse: Telethon Kids Institute

Toby Whittington: Green World Revolution

Francois Witbooi: Redspear Safety