A Queensland social worker who transformed the UnitingCare health care services over her 11 years as CEO, has won the 20th annual Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year award.
Appointed in 2003, UnitingCare Queensland CEO Anne Cross consolidated more than 100 separate organisations into four service groups, something she said was her biggest business challenge.
“On a personal level, the most difficult challenge has been overcoming the fear of failure and remaining a forward-looking person,” she said.
She now oversees 16,000 employees and 9,000 volunteers across 400 locations and hoped to continue to evolve the business by developing adaptive capacity.
“I want to create the capacity of the organisation for change across health, aged care and disability services,” Ms Cross said.
Telstra chief operations officer Kate McKenzie said Ms Cross had won for her work in transforming the fragmented UnitingCare services.
“They said that her leadership of the organisation – which was authentic and based on strong values – has positively impacted many people including people with disabilities, the elderly and the Indigenous community,” Ms McKenzie said.
The national winner of the Telstra Business Woman of the Year 2014 was announced Wednesday night in Melbourne at a black tie gala.
Here are the state finalists for the awards and their tips for career success.
Telstra Business Woman of the Year 2014: Anne Cross (QLD)
Anne Cross was appointed by the Uniting Church as CEO in 2003 to oversee the merger of more than 100 separate aged care, community services, and hospitals.
Her secret to success: Find someone you really trust and speak to them often.
1. Overcome the fear of failure and be bold
2. Always look over the horizon
3. Stay grounded in what your business is doing now. Understand the stories on the ground
4. Choose your attitude and be really positive
5. Always be gracious. Approach relationships with grace
6. Surround yourself with good people
Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz (NSW)
With 25 years in the property industry, Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz’s influence is internationally recognised in the male-dominated property industry. As CEO of the ASX-listed Mirvac she leads a team of 1200.
Her secret to success: Recognise that you only have the moment that you are in. Don’t squander the moment forgetting past moment or future ones.
1. Be authentic to yourself. Find one that is your own voice
2. Difficult ethical decisions have to be made – ensure that the right thing is done regardless of the personal consequences
Dr Tracey Brown (VIC)
When Dr Tracey Brown lost her mother to cancer, she saw the inefficiencies in oncology treatment first hand. She used her 15-years experience in biomedical research to develop more effective treatments and her next goal is to see five of her anti-cancer drugs in the market. She’s managed to balance the realities of business with the practicalities of scientific and fundraising management – with the key to this being open and honest with long-term shareholders.
Her secret to success: Be true to yourself and never give up on your belief. Don’t avoid risks. Embrace them and stay honest and you will achieve what you want to achieve.
1. Open, honest and clear communication – with investors, shareholders and your team. Manage their expectations and you will always have the support you need
2. As a woman we tend to put ourselves as a second priority – you need to be the first priority
3. Take yourself out of your comfort zone
4. Find a strong mentor that you can rely on
5. Stay true to yourself – you will then be true to others and they will be true to you
6. Share your vision with your team. Hope that join you and create a joint vision. Don’t get too far in front of the team – be together
Sharon Warburton (WA)
Sharon Warbuton was the first person in her family to finish university, graduating as a chartered accountant, and hasn’t stopped achieving lofty goals. Despite this, her biggest career challenge has been others thinking she was promoted for reasons other than her talent. Ms Warbuton is the executive director of strategy and finance at construction contractor Brookfield Multiplex, as well as a non-executive director of Fortescue Metals Group.
Ms Warbuton has also just launched a website “Steel Heels” for women seeking support to return to the workplace.
Her secret to success: Believe in yourself.
1. Act with confidence. Focus on why you can do things rather than why you can’t
2. Learn from your peers. Don’t underestimate the power of what you can learn from those around you in your current work environment
3. Identify good leaders in the community and follow them. You can learn so the much from what they do – social media has made this a lot easier
4. Expand your skills and knowledge as early as you can in your career
5. Develop experience and strategic thinking. Great leaders have the ability to think strategically – you can learn this from reading, studying or coat-tailing someone you admire in your organisation
Erma Ranieri (SA)
Office for the Public Sector (Department of the Premier and Cabinet)
Engaging employees was the catalyst for change in Erma Ranieri’s role with the South Australian public service. She recognises change does not come from the top down, and has built a grounding for reform at all levels of the public service. One of her biggest difficulties has been overcoming unconscious bias in organisations: “There is a paradigm that has been created – if we don’t break it we can’t represent women. If we don’t break the mould we will never advance.”
Her secret to success: Trust your judgement and seek advice from people that you not only trust but also those that would be your biggest critics. Be prepared to accept criticism and do something with it.
1. Trust yourself and trust what you believe in
2. Have confidence in what you believe in
3. Have lots of great people around you for support
4. Trust your judgement and trust others. But remember that trust is earned
5. Never expect someone to do something that you wouldn’t expect of yourself. Stay true to your values
6. Leadership is a personal journey – learn from your setbacks and the mistakes. Disruptions is the way things change
Samantha Kourtis (ACT)
Capital Chemist Charnwood
At 14, working in her local pharmacy, Samantha Kourtis found her vocation. After her degree and experience as a pharmacist, she went into management and then pharmacy ownership. Ms Kourtis says her biggest challenge has been overcoming “mother guilt”.
“My daughter’s teacher advised me to use my role to show her what is possible and help her realise that she can be a woman, have a job, be a wife, run a business and also be an amazing mum. That was the moment that I got over my guilt.”
Her secret to success: Surround yourself with people who celebrate you
1. Believe in yourself
2. Be courageous to know that it’s ok to believe in yourself
3. Find out what you love and do that as that will make you successful
4. Make champions out of your team members
5. Engage with your customers
6. Celebrate your success loudly
Donna Adams (TAS)
Donna Adams was the first woman to be appointed as an Assistant Commissioner in the 114-year history of Tasmania Police. Joining the force at 19, Ms Adams has worked for 26-years as a police officer and has been recognised with numerous awards including a Commissioner’s Commendation for her work in the aftermath of the devastating 1996 Port Arthur massacre.
Next she wants to see the women and men that she mentors in the Tasmanian police force achieve their own success.
Her secret to success: Make the most of your opportunities… Christine Nixon gave me this advice. Opportunities don’t come around that often and you need to grab them with both hands and show others what you are capable of.
1. Never take anything for granted
2. Set yourself goals – short, medium and long term, and develop a plan to achieve them
3. Never stop listening – listening is the easiest way to know what works, what doesn’t – you need that insight when you are making decisions that affect the community and your staff
4. Be prepared to give and receive honest feedback
5. Have someone that you trust that can be a voice of reason
6. Treat people with respect
7. Enjoy life
Julie Crisp (NT)
As a teen Julie Crisp aspired to become partner at a global professional service firm. She achieved that goal in 2008 becoming partner of Deloitte, and leading an evolution of the business. One challenge as head of the Assurance and Advisory division has been being a “jack-of-all-trades”, but she says she has found success by surrounding herself with good people.
She’s achieved her dream in the past nine weeks, becoming the first female Auditor-General in the Northern Territory.
Her secret to success: Stay true to yourself.
1. Authenticity – don’t be something that you are not
2. Challenge yourself to change. Resilience is one thing, but reformation is the key
3. Have confidence – no one knows you better than you
4. Be your own risk manager – just because someone tells you that you can’t do something doesn’t mean that you can’t
5. Work at what you love
6. Work with people you like working with. You need to be prepared to give it your best shot
7. It’s ok to shut up and listen sometimes