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Perth podiatrist turned entrepreneur Rachael Ferguson has been named the 2020 First Amongst Equals winner, the highest honour at the Business News 40under40 Awards.

The 40under40 class of 2020. Photo: Matt Jelonek

Perth podiatrist turned entrepreneur Rachael Ferguson has been named the 2020 First Amongst Equals winner, the highest honour at the Business News 40under40 Awards. 

Established in 2002, the 40under40 awards celebrate Western Australia’s top business talent across a diverse mix of sectors, from finance, manufacturing and health, to creative arts and community leaders.   

The 2020 gala was held at Crown Perth last night, with guests enjoying entertainment from the Scotch College Pipe Band, local musician James Wilson, and the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts choir.

The night featured an appearance from the 2019 First Amongst Equals, Hannah Mann, who spoke to the crowd on her experiences and achievements in the past year. Other First Amongst Equals alumni in attendance included Jahna Cedar (2017) and Paul Blackburne (2016).

Business News chief executive Charles Kobelke started proceedings and acknowledged the many home-grown businesses leaders, innovators and companies that had made waves locally, nationally and internationally.

“Over the years we have applauded more than 700 members of our state’s young business and community elite, celebrated their exploits and watched them go on to even greater heights,” Mr Kobelke told attendees.

Business News encourages all Western Australians to nurture and grow this entrepreneurial spirit. We have a big part to play in building the state of which we dream, and never has it been more important to do so.”

Ms Ferguson’s strong entrepreneurial spirit has helped drive the resilience of her business, particularly through the pandemic.

Plans to launch her orthotics business, called Synxsole at that time, in the US were put on hold as COVID-19 swept the globe.

But rather than sit back and wait for a return to business as usual, Ms Ferguson recognised the hiatus as an opportunity to grow the organisation in other ways and restructure operations.

Among the changes was a six-month rebranding process that resulted in the creation of SynxBody.

In 2015, Ms Ferguson made a deal on TV show Shark Tank with Sydney-based businessman Andrew Banks, who invested $100,000 in exchange for 45 per cent ownership. He remains an investor.

The business has since developed four ranges – Synxsole, Syngeli, Synxlace and Synxplus – with 19 products that target a number of foot and body-related concerns.

For the remainder of the year, SynxBody will focus on its marketing strategy in Australia and growing new lines.

Ms Ferguson is also the WA ambassador of Women’s Entrepreneurship & Development Organisation, a global women’s advocacy group that aims to encourage entrepreneurship in females.

You can read more about Ms Ferguson’s story and all the 40under40 winners online Thursday afternoon and in our next print edition on Monday.  

There were three other finalists for the First Amongst Equals.

Chris Brennan-Jones, doctor and researcher at the Telethon Kids Institute, who was also honoured as the joint-winner of the Woodside STEM Excellence Award (with Lisa Anne Halton from Studio Halton and Studio Kinship).

Bec Johnson, the chief executive and founder of the Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre, was another finalist, additionally named the Not For Profit category winner and recipient of the People’s Choice Award.

• The U Group chief executive and co-founder Tyler Spooner was also recognised as a First Amongst Equals finalist, and was the Startup Business category winner.

Other category award winners were: DreamSpark founder and managing director Leslie Delaforce (Indigenous Business); Jones Welding Solutions director Zane Jones (Large Business); Digit founder Andrew Erkins (Professional Services); Deputy dean and director of the Centre of Research SCRIPT, Paola Magni, (Intrapreneur); The Jungle Body and Mermade Hair founder Tara Simich (Medium Business) and illuminance Solutions chief executive Nilesh Makwana received the City of Perth prize. 

Congratulations to the 40under40 class of 2020

Aaron McDonald: Pragma Lawyers

Amanda Walker: WA HomeStay

Andrew Erkins: Digit

Bec Johnson: Type 1 Diabetes Family Centre

Bernadette Olivier: The Volte

Brie Healy: From Dust Creative Arts/Global Creative

Briege Whitehead: White Spark Pictures

Dr Chris Brennan-Jones: Telethon Kids Institute

Dayna Pool: The Healthy Strides Foundation

Gemma Taylor: Bradley Bayly Legal

James Clarke: LH Global

James Koerting: Gold Fields Australia

James Riddle: Plumbing Bros

Jenna Gore: Sleep Science Guru

Joanne Beedie: NICU Helping Little Hands

Kelda Oppermann: Zonta House Refuge Association

Lara Kovacevich: House of Zhivago

Lee Bartlett: TAMS Group | Frankie's on Rotto | Lexi's on Rotto

Lee Cassell: Passing Paws Pet Cremations

Leslie Delaforce: DreamSpark

Lisa Anne Halton: Studio Halton | Studio Kinship

Luke Jones: Jones Welding Solutions

Megan Nielsen: Megan Nielsen Patterns

Michael Gendy: Jupiter Health & Medical Services

Michelle Maynard: Carbon Group

Nicole Pates: Western Kids Health

Nikhil Jayaraj: Regen Power

Nilesh Makwana, illuminance Solutions

Paola Magni: Murdoch University

Paul Morrison: Elite Hospitality Personnel

Rachael Ferguson: SynxBody

Rafael Kimberley-Bowen: Scale Partners

Samantha Hall: Spaces Alive

Scott Mills: Mechwest

Sian Roberts: The Last Great Hunt

Tara Simich: The Jungle Body and Mermade Hair

Tony Caccetta: Perth Dermatology Clinic and Day Hospital

Tyler Spooner: The U Group

Yvonne Power: Village Energy

Zane Jones: Jones Welding Solutions

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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