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IT innovator among Telstra Business Women’s Award winners

Thursday, 22 November 2012 | By Michelle Hammond

The founder of an IT consultancy and an accountant turned psychologist are among the winners of the 2012 Telstra Business Women’s Awards, which saw muesli queen Carolyn Creswell take out the top prize.


The awards, now in their 18th year, reward the achievements of businesswomen across the country. The 2012 awards were presented in Sydney last night.


Carolyn Creswell was named the 2012 Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year, after being named the 2012 Telstra Victorian Business Woman of the Year in September.


She also won the Commonwealth Bank Business Owner Award.


Award winners receive a share of more than $200,000 in cash and prizes, and become part of an exclusive national business alumni.


Creswell was just an 18-year-old university student when, in 1992, she bought into a homemade muesli business for $1,000. It was renamed Carman’s Fine Foods.


Two years later, Creswell became the sole owner and managing director of the business, developing it into a $50 million operation that exports to more than 30 countries.


Employing about 130 staff, Creswell uses ingredients from Australian farmers and packaging suppliers. And with four children, she prides herself on her ability to juggle work and family.


According to awards ambassador Kate McKenzie, Creswell has a great work ethic in addition to a great business model.


“The awards judges described her as a hands-on leader with strong business skills in a competitive sector,” McKenzie said.


“She’s an articulate communicator, an inspiration to women of all ages and she’s also passionate about being a great mum.”


Also recognised at the awards was Maureen Clifford, a widow with two young children who struggled her way out of poverty, who won the Nokia Business Innovation Award.


Clifford worked for Fisher & Paykel in New Zealand and later Australia, rising to general manager of finance, before establishing her IT consultancy Ndevr in Melbourne in 1998.


Ndevr developed an automated environmental accounting and auditing system that was bought by US software giant Oracle Corporation.


Two years ago, Clifford launched Ndevr’s environmental consulting arm, which helps companies with sustainability programs and greenhouse gas reporting compliance.


The system is now used by large Australian construction companies and is available around the world.


McKenzie said Clifford “displayed deep business acumen, self-belief, and was highly innovative and inventive in a contentious field”.


Meanwhile, Chandra Clements won the Marie Claire Young Business Women’s Award. An accountant turned psychologist, Clements is the chief executive of Sentis.


An Australian-owned business, Sentis applies psychology to safety, wellbeing, organisational and leadership performance for clients in more than 20 countries.


Despite being just 34, Clements leads 90 staff in three Australian offices and one in the United States, with clients in mining, construction, oil and gas.


Judges were impressed with Clements’ outstanding people management skills, intuition, insight, and the level of strategic thinking required in her business.