13/03/2013 - 02:57

Top talent

13/03/2013 - 02:57


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This year’s candidates again proved what a wealth of talent we have in WA.

Top talent

Mark Pownall - chairman of judges

This year’s candidates again proved what a wealth of talent we have in WA.

There is never any shortage of talent in Western Australia and, once again, the 40under40 awards have proved that entrepreneurial people in all walks of professional life can be found wherever you look in this great state.

As chairman of judges for the fifth time, I was reassured to find as full a field of quality candidates as I have seen previously.

The challenge for the judging panel was, as usual, to select 40 candidates from a field of applicants more than double that size.

Each applicant has the opportunity to provide extensive written answers to several key questions on their business achievements, entrepreneurialism, values and community service.

In this process we are looking for well-rounded high achievers; those who have succeeded but still have room for more - be that in business or in devoting time to other aspirations, such as charity work.

We are also looking for people who have the potential to influence the state. You need only look at the past 40under40 First Amongst Equals, such as Mark Barnaba, Michael Malone and David Flanagan, to see the kind of people who attract the judges’ attention.

We have changed the judging format this year, our 12th 40under40 . Our traditional judging panel, 18 members this time, selected the 40 and nominated a group of six to be considered by a guest-judging panel of five (including me).

That guest panel chose four finalists who joined them for face-to-face interviews, from which the First Amongst Equals was chosen.

Like any contest of this nature, each judge comes with his or her own perspective on what to look for in a successful businessperson.

Among the winners were constant themes worth noting. Many highlighted the role of their parents in instilling a strong work ethic and, particularly among migrants, their family’s focus on education.

It was also striking how quite a number had suffered considerable adversity, usually related to health and in some cases resulting in the loss of a loved one during a critical phase of their business development. Such events would have undone many others.

Several of our winning women have been successful in fields almost totally dominated by men. And most of our winners have had setbacks that would not look out of place in a university case study; these experiences were reflected in the wider pool of nominees, which was very strong this year.

Past experience tells me some of those people who did not make the 40 this year will return for another go in the near future.

On behalf of the judges I wish to thank all those who participated and wish them all the best with their businesses - I know we’ll see many of you on the news pages in the future.

And, on behalf of WA Business News, I would like to thank all our judges for their commitment this year. We certainly appreciate the time and energy they have put into this process.

Grey Egerton-Warbuton


GREY Egerton-Warburton is both the head of corporate finance and a director of Hartleys Limited.

He has led billions of dollars of capital raisings for ASX-listed resources companies, both large and small. During the past two years, he has led 11 domestic and cross-border takeovers and mergers for mining and industrial companies.

In 2009, The Australian newspaper named Mr Egerton-Warburton among the top 10 emerging business leaders in Australia.

In 2012 he was awarded the title of First Amongst Equals at the WA Business News 40under40 awards. Mr Egerton-Warburton is also a director of the Women & Infants Research Foundation.

Sue Daubney

Bannister Downs Dairy

SUE Daubney is managing director of Bannister Downs Dairy Company in Northcliffe, which supplies more than 500 customers statewide with fresh milk, flavoured milks and creams. Having achieved an export registration in September 2009, the business is now an emerging exporter with customers in Singapore, Hong Kong and China.

In 2006, Ms Daubney was awarded the Telstra Business Women’s Innovation Award for WA. In 2010 she was named First Amongst Equals in the WA Business News 40under40 awards. She currently sits on the board of the South West Development Commission, and is the chair of the CCI (WA) Food Industry Advisory Committee.

Neil Hamilton


NEIL Hamilton is a senior adviser at investment bank UBS, chairman of OZ Minerals and Miclyn Express, and director of Metcash.

He has 28 years’ experience in senior management positions and on boards of public companies across law, funds management, investment, insurance and resources.

Mr Hamilton is the former chairman of Challenge Bank, Western Power Corporation, Mount Gibson Iron, Iress Market Technology, and was a director of Insurance Australia Group for 10 years.

Mr Hamilton began his career as a lawyer in the firm of Robinson Cox (now Clayton Utz) and spent 20 years as an executive in the funds management and investment industry.

Diane Smith-Gander


BACK home in Perth for five years following a 24-year absence, Diane Smith-Gander is now a nonexecutive director of Wesfarmers, Transfield Services and CBH, deputy chairperson of NBN Co, and a commissioner of Tourism WA. Ms Smith-Gander was general manager at Westpac throughout the 1990s.

Previous to that she was a partner at McKinsey & Company in the US, working with clients across a range of industries globally on post-merger integration, transformation and major organisation restructuring.

Ms Smith-Gander is a Fellow of the AICD and CSA and an adjunct professor of corporate governance at UWA, where she serves on the advisory board of the Business School.

Caragh Waller is a project manager with the Small Business Development Corporation, the state government agency that provides information, advisory and advocacy services to support the development and growth of small businesses in Western Australia.

Ms Waller has extensive small business experience, having worked in senior roles in several areas of the SBDC over the past six years. She recently led the project management team for BiZFiT, a statewide $2 million business resilience project.

Ms Waller is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is a professional member of the Australian Institute of Management. She has completed a bachelor of arts from the University of Western Australia and a graduate diploma in business from Edith Cowan University.

Caroline Ambrosini is the managing director and founder of Ambrosini Professional Placements. She started her career as a CPA, working in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and New York with companies such as Rio Tinto, JP Morgan, and Wesfarmers.

Ms Ambrosini moved into the recruitment industry in 1999, and in 2001 identified a niche for a boutique finance recruiter, opening Ambrosini Professional Placements.

The business is a specialist recruiter in the areas of accounting and finance, business support, engineering and technical and sales and marketing. Ms Ambrosini specialises in the placement of senior executive roles, with a strong focus on resources companies in Africa.

Ms Ambrosini’s involvement in the community includes a senior role in mentoring programs, and time as a committee member on the $20 million fundraising for the Jack Bendat Comprehensive Cancer Centre.

David Albrecht

AS managing partner, Mr Albrecht heads the Perth office of Gadens Lawyers, an Australian top 10 legal services provider with offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Port Moresby and Singapore.

Mr Albrecht specialises in banking and finance and property law, helping financial institutions prepare securities, advising on structuring loan facilities, and enforcing securities granted in support of those facilities.

He is renowned among his clients for his focus on how to achieve their commercial and legal outcomes, regularly acting not only for landlords and tenants in negotiating and preparing lease documents, but also in matters relating to trusts, wills and probate.

Fiona Lander is the executive general manager corporate affairs and organisation development at Perth Airport Pty Ltd.

Before joining Perth Airport in August 2010, Ms Lander was the executive director policy and learning with the state government’s Department for Child Protection. In this role, she was responsible for the policy and procedural foundation of child protection operations across the state, family and domestic violence response coordination, legislation and media management.

Ms Lander holds a bachelor of arts (politics) and an executive master in public administration. She was appointed to the state government’s Women’s Advisory Council in 2011, the Youth Focus board in July 2012 and the Fremantle Port Authority board in August 2012.

Gavin Ball is a small business entrepreneur who buys, starts and operates businesses through his Vorian Investment Group. He has spent the past 20 years investing and managing a variety of businesses in many different and varied markets.

Today, the businesses in the group include: Vorian Agency - a fully integrated online digital agency that offers web, design and marketing, audio production, online search engine optimisation and search engine management, and social and online media services; Betercorp Offshore Staff - an offshore staffing operation that supports Western Australian businesses; and CapitalCo - a specialist consulting firm providing services predominately in the fertiliser and related industries.

Greg Caust is general manager of the Commonwealth Bank’s corporate financial services team in Western Australia.

Mr Caust has been involved in the finance industry for more than 20 years with the Commonwealth Bank, working in various capacities and locations across Australia, and now leads a team of finance professionals that services the top end of WA’s business community.

He has a bachelor of business in accounting and economics and a masters of business administration specialising in finance, part of which was completed in Berne, Switzerland. Married and a father of three, his hobbies include all sports, camping and supporting his young children in their sporting endeavours.

Jacki D’Antonio is the sales manager for Singapore Airlines in Western Australia. Before joining Singapore Airlines, she was the state manager for Cover-More Travel Insurance.

Her career in the aviation industry commenced with a sales executive position with Emirates Airlines where she was a finalist in the chairman’s award for sales excellence.

Ms D’Antonio directly manages a team of eight sales staff, and is responsible for the direction and growth of the airline in Perth. She is SIA’s only female sales manager in Australia.

In addition to her work experience, Ms D’Antonio has travelled significantly throughout Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas.

Kellie Croxon has provided Western Australian businesses with communications advice for nearly 20 years, 13 as a founder and director of Clarity Communications. Ms Croxon is an experienced public relations practitioner, undertaking strategic planning, community consultation, media relations, and internal communications for large national and international organisations.

Among the clients she has worked with are Telstra, Rio Tinto, European Space Agency, and AMP.

She currently provides coaching and mentoring services to executives across a range of sectors including resources, engineering and financial services.

Linda Wayman is general manager of Southern Cross Austereo in Perth.

She is responsible for Perth radio stations mix94.5 and 92.9, which have a $47 million budget and around 95 staff.

Ms Wayman was named Western Australia’s advertiser of the year in 2012 and in March 2012 was inducted into the WA Women’s Hall of Fame for her leadership and business achievements.

She started her career as a newspaper and magazine journalist in Sydney and Perth, then as a group editor of five award-winning suburban newspapers in Melbourne.

Ms Wayman worked as general manager of EventsCorp in WA before joining Southern Cross Austereo.

Lucinda Ardagh has been working with the St Vincent de Paul Society since March 2005 in the role of manager, public relations and fundraising.

Ms Ardagh is currently the delegated media spokesperson for the society in Western Australia and her role is to oversee the fundraising, PR, communication, events, corporate and community engagement and business development activities of the St Vincent de Paul Society in this state.

She also works on a national level as part of a delegated group responsible for the development and implementation of the society’s national fundraising, marketing, communication and PR strategies.

Ms Ardagh and her team are responsible for the annual Vinnies CEO Sleepout event, launched in 2010, which over the past three years has raised more than $1.9 million.

She was awarded Telstra Business Woman of the Year (WA) in 2003 and is also a board member on The Committee for Perth.

Marie Cloughley

AFTER a long and expensive legal battle in the Liquor Licensing Court against major player Coles, who represented Vintage Cellars and Liquorland, Marie Cloughley opened her first WA Cleanskin Cellars store in Subiaco in 2004.

WA Cleanskin Cellars is the only liquor store that has all of its wines on tasting all day every day, and offers a no questions asked money-back guarantee.

Ms Cloughley was a recipient of a WA Business News 40under40 award in 2009, and WA Cleanskin Cellars was one of the Rising Stars of 2011.

She was also a finalist in the Telstra Business Woman of the Year Awards (Commonwealth Bank business owner) in 2012.

Mario D’Orazio is managing director of Channel Seven Perth.

After a period working as a schoolteacher, working in country areas of Western Australia, he moved into the newspaper/media industry, where he spent almost 10 years as a food and wine writer, political reporter, and also covered WAFL football for the Daily News and Weekend News.

This was followed by a short stint in radio at ABC 720 before he launched into a career in commercial television.

Mr D’Orazio was a news and current affairs reporter until appointed founding executive producer of Today Tonight in Perth.

In June 2011, Mr D’Orazio was appointed to his current role; he is also a member of the Telethon Trust board and chairman of the Perth Art Foundation.

Matthew Woods leads KPMG’s national restructuring business.

He has more than 19 years’ experience specialising in advising companies, directors, providers of debt and equity and other stakeholders on innovative capital and operational solutions to turnaround distressed businesses and assets and reposition them for growth.

Before joining KPMG in 2009, Mr Woods was managing director of a boutique corporate consulting and investment company that consulted to and invested in distressed large private and small-cap public companies.

Before that he was a partner in a midtier national accounting firm, specialising in corporate recovery and formal insolvency appointments.

Suzanne Strapp was one of the inaugural winners of the WA Business News 40under40 awards for her (then) role as director and senior audiologist of hearing company, South West Audiology and Hearing Services. Swiss-based Sonova Pty Ltd bought the company in 2008 and Ms Strapp subsequently became the regional manager of Connect Hearing WA, formerly known as South West Audiology.

While she still consults in the audiology field, Ms Strapp now works as creative adviser with responsibility for quality control at family-owned estate vineyard Wills Domain of Margaret River, where her fiance Darren Haunold, the 2004 First Amongst Equals, is managing director.

Suzanne Ardagh

A graduate of the University of Western Australia, Suzanne Ardagh joined the Department of Foreign Affairs in the late 1980s and was posted to embassies in Vienna and Mexico City. In the early 1990s she joined Wesfarmers.

A decade later, Ms Ardagh relocated overseas to take up the position of director, marketing and communications at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology’s campus in Vietnam.

Returning to WA in 2007, she was appointed state manager for the Australian Institute of Company Directors and took over responsibility for the international division in 2009. Ms Ardagh is on the board of the Perth International Arts Festival and has recently joined the board of the NGO Opportunity International Australia.

Tony Narvaez joined ATCO Australia in June 2012 in the role of executive general manager, power.

ATCO Australia, headquartered in Perth, operates three power generation plants in the country and offers a full range of energy infrastructure services, including transmission and distribution of electricity, natural gas, natural gas gathering, processing and storage.

ATCO Structures & Logistics also has four modular workforce housing manufacturing facilities with nine offices in Australia.

Wendy Earl is the inaugural manager of economic development at the City of Perth, having started with the City in 2007. Her responsibilities include research, planning and implementing economic development activities in the city to encourage investment, growth, activation, diversity, and international recognition that will achieve long-term economic stability. She is a member of the Institute of Leadership and Management, a member of the Chartered Institute of Personal Development, a director on the board of Economic Development Australia, and chair of the State Board of Economic Development.

Ms Earl has a BA (Hons) in business and economics and a masters in management and economic development.

Mr Narvaez has a bachelor of commerce degree majoring in commerce and economics and a diploma in financial services. He also recently attended Harvard Business School to participate in the executive education program.



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