Top WA women named

A 25 year career in the information technology industry has won AlphaWest network services manager Sharon Brown the Telstra Western Australian Business Woman of the Year Award.

Ms Brown also won the Ansett Australia Private Sector Award for businesses with more than 100 employees.

The first female elected as convenor of the Australian Inform-ation Industries Association in WA, Ms Brown joined Alphawest in 1998 to manage a team of more than eighty employees across three divisions.

She has overseen the design and implementation of small and large IT and telecommunications networks, the company’s ever growing security and Internet services division and the sale of total solutions packages.

Ms Brown joined AlphaWest after success as WA branch manager of SCITEC, where she was awarded Branch Manager of the Year.

She said she was excited about the opportunity to promote the IT&T industry and illustrate how women can excel in the sector.

“It needs to be highlighted to students and schools in general that there are a lot of opportunities and real career prospects out there – and not just for propellerheads and highly skilled engineers,” Ms Brown said.

“That also goes for rural and remote regions, where students now don’t have to come to the city for higher education – they can access it via available technology.

“AlphaWest, in particular, is looking at rolling out and promoting to the rural and remote regions, so families and farmers can actually establish a good business in the IT&T industry without having to come to the city.”

A new category in the awards was won by a 27 year old dynamo from Agriculture WA.

Northam-based Tresslyn Walm-sley won the Young Women’s Award for her role as the TopCrop state coordinator.

TopCrop is a group-based program assisting growers to increase their crop productivity and grain quality.

Ms Walmsley manages 82 grow-er groups and eight team members. She is also the national manager for two Grains Research and Develop-ment Corporation projects.

She said the projects aimed to increase the group skills and leadership of growers and foster the participation of women and young adults in the grain industry.

“I hope winning this award will inspire other young women to get involved in this traditionally male-dominated area,” Ms Walmsley said.

Pretzel Logic director Valerie Pretzel won the Challenge Bank Business Owner Award.

Ms Pretzel said she had tripled her staff in the last twelve months.

“There is no benchmark for a lot of the work we’ve been doing such as IT marketing and electronic commerce – we’ve had to feel our way,” she said.

Ms Pretzel said a challenge had been to find the right staff.

“We look for people who have IT skills but are also thinking about how to apply them in a business sense,” she said.

“We have brought the human communications aspect and pragmatism into web development and e-commerce consulting rather than focusing on simply the technology.

“The youth of this industry is strongly reflected in the average age of those that work within it. At Pretzel Logic the average age of our staff is 26 years of age.

“As a state, we need to give our university IT graduates incentives to stay here.”

The AusIndustry Private Sector Award for businesses with fewer than 100 employees was won by Wanslea Family Services executive director Sue Ash, with the Shell Corporate and Government Award going to Westfield Primary School’s Denise Hilsz.

Category winners will represent WA at the National Telstra Business Women’s Awards in the ACT on 14 July.

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