About the doing, and the undoing, of some very important women’s business

The awards journey told through the eyes of four Telstra Women in Business finalists

For women in business in Australia, there is no greater recognition or achievement than a nomination as a finalist in the Telstra Women in Business Awards series.

A national program of significant standing and stature now in its 24th year, its mantra of women who are ‘undoing’ business remains true in a still often male dominated world.

The awards application process alone is incredibly intensive, inspirational and rigorous. For those business women granted a spot at the next stage, the night itself is overwhelming and full of bold stories of amazing – yet everyday – wonder women, each of whom are capable, successful, brave, resilient, and rule-breaking visionaries that are exceptionally hard working and full of heart.

Most often than not it is they who are most surprised about the success they have achieved and the recognition it has garnered (and so rightly deserved). It hasn’t always been highs, and the lows and failures are just as much a part of their journey as the wins. However, as they go about their days, stretching the boundaries of what even they dreamt was possible, they each have trod a path that is not for the faint hearted. But on they go, undoing, and doing, their business, without fuss and bother and a whole lot of gumption.

These women are always the very first ones to acknowledge the loving support and hard work of their teams and loved ones – those that they acknowledge as the motivating force behind their grit. However, the reality at the end of the day is that the buck stops with them.

Through these awards we are given rare insight into what makes them get up and get out there, taking it all in their stride and pushing forward.

In this interview blog we hear from three of these not-so-ordinary business-women and what the awards meant to them.


Tammy Edwards | CEO |Tuckfield Conveyancing

Why did you apply for the TBWA? 

I was nominated three years in a row and in the end I finally decided it was time to listen to the universe and go for it.  In previous years I hadn’t felt “ready” enough with where I was at in my business, but by the third year of being nominated, I felt very comfortable with my positioning in business and what I had so far achieved.

What was your experience with the entry process?

While I was very daunted by the size of the application and the time it would take, taking the time to reflect on what I had achieved and pausing to absorb this was incredibly rewarding.

As anyone in business knows, and especially women, it is not often we take the time to reflect back on our achievements, our challenges and our journey.  I considered this process a gift in itself.

How did the application process change your work behaviour (if at all)? 

While I did not change many of my behaviours, some of the questions certainly made me look at how I was currently operating and my thought patterns. This in itself was a way for me to understand that I was heading in the right direction at that point in my business.

What did becoming a finalist/winner do for you personally?

I would never have thought I would fit in with such a high calibre of business women and at each point in the journey (from the application to being short listed to then being a finalist), I was absolutely in awe of all those around me.

Being a wife, a business woman and a mother who had managed to build several successful businesses on my own without financial help or aid from anyone has been an enormous achievement, but it was never my dream to win a big award.  My dream has always been to have a balanced career and personal life (which I have) and that is a reward in itself.

What did becoming a finalist/winner do for your business? 

The business has grown on its own merits due to the team I have employed and the systems and processes we have implemented so I don’t think it has significantly impacted my core business of conveyancing. What it has done though, is given credibility to me personally which has encouraged and assisted me with building my business consulting and business group facilitation practice.

What advice would you give to other women who are interested in the Awards but haven’t yet taken the plunge? 
I am continually encouraging women to apply for these awards and go through this process.  No matter where you are at in your business, you have achieved great things and no matter how far you get in the application process; having the opportunity to reflect makes it all worthwhile.

What’s next (for you or your business)? 

I am continuing to grow my business consulting practice and I am facilitating business focus groups.  My passion is helping others to believe in themselves and to succeed with their vision and goals.


Brie Healy | Founding Director/Dance Educator | Dust Creative Arts

Why did you apply for the TBWA? 

I applied for the Telstra Business Women’s Awards because I love what I do, I am passionate about my values and I believe I am doing what I was called to do. However within this I know that there are many areas for me to grow within this calling and being nominated for these awards, I found myself drawn to completing the application and looking for ways to improve in my business.

What was your experience with the entry process?

My experience initially was one of being overwhelmed by the application process. However, once I began I found it to be a thoroughly rewarding experience; giving me the opportunity to remove myself from the every day workings of the business and to provide me with space to reflect upon what it is we do, what we have achieved and what values we hold dear to our work. Not only was I able to reflect upon myself as a business woman, but also upon myself as a person and my ability of being true to who I am in all that I do.

How did the application process change your work behaviour (if at all)? 

My application did not change my work behaviour, but it did help me to remember my “why” in all that I do. It has actually helped me to take a step back from things that do not align with my own personal values and focus more on what it is that does within my business – so in this aspect I guess it has refined my work behaviour. In doing this I am modelling behaviours that hopefully my students will emulate in the future as they begin to understand that they can do ANYTHING but not EVERYTHING.

What did becoming a finalist/winner do for you personally?

I was completely taken aback at becoming a finalist – as someone who could sometimes be described as a flatliner (doesn’t get too excited or too sad) – I had tears of joy on receiving the phone call! I already felt privileged to be a part of the awards journey up until then and then I was blessed as the winner for the Emerging Leader WA category. Although I don’t do what I do for recognition, being celebrated in this way and in these awards came at a perfect moment for me in my business when I am up against many challenges; both personally and within my business. To be appreciated for doing what I love means the world!

What did becoming a finalist/winner do for your business and what is next? 

Well it has not even been a week since receiving the award so I’m not sure that I can speak as to what this award has done for my business. I think it will help to boost my standing within my community and potentially help me find more like-minded people to collaborative with and whom I may seek to contribute to the business in the future. I’m passionate about my region and have grand visions that can only go ahead if I am able to find and collaborate with the right people. I am looking forward to seeking out these people and to stepping forward and making it happen!

What advice would you give to other women who are interested in the Awards but haven’t yet taken the plunge? 

I would advise all of the wonderful business women in my life and out there in Australia to apply for the awards. We do not value ourselves as much as we should and having the opportunity to reflect upon your achievements will help keep you on course for a bright and directed future. Whether you are a winner, finalist, short listed or simply an applicant; there is so much to gain.


 Susi Tegen | Managing Director | FREE Eyre (Grain accumulation and trading entity)

Why did you apply for the TBWA? 

I didn’t originally make the decision to apply for the awards, and instead was nominated. However, upon receiving the nomination and being asked to complete the application, it gave me time to reflect on how I came to the stage where I was now. This was very motivating and I decided to apply. The application process alone is very worthwhile as both a personal experience and a business exercise. As busy professionals, we often do not have enough time to do this in our lives, and it is a very valuable journey to undertake whether you are short listed or not. It makes you think about the actual achievement, the journey, the successes, the mistakes, the people who were with you and supported you along the way, and where to now – helping identify what is required and needed to get there.

What was your experience with the entry process?

I found the process in-depth and thorough. It was thought provoking and really provided focus on what drives you and your business, what is needed in the industry you work in, and what skills and experience you bring. Above all, it provides clarity on what else you can learn and what skills you need to continue to develop to grow. The interviews are a great process to focus your thoughts, your skills and where else you could contribute. What you do well, and what needs work.

What did becoming a finalist/winner do for your business and what is next? 

Above all it has made me very proud of the company I was acting Managing Director for, and the people who were part of it. It also made me proud of Primary Industries, which are often seen the poorer cousin of business. It allowed me to reflect on others whom, through this business, I feel I represent and has helped to raise the profile of Primary industries. It also allowed me to reflect upon those people in my personal life, without whose support I would not have been able to toil at this endeavour.

What did becoming a finalist/winner do for your business and what is next? 

It definitely raised the profile of FREE Eyre Ltd and what the company has achieved. While this is no longer the case now, the organisation was able to move into a joint venture that was useful for the organisation at the time. Media coverage and endorsement raised awareness and externally awarded endorsement, which was useful in terms of opening up opportunity and doors. Community recognition was very helpful and much appreciated.

What did becoming a finalist/winner do for you personally?

Personally I have benefited from the growth opportunity both in terms of my own personal experience and also from those that I have met through the journey. David Thodey, the former CEO of Telstra, continues to be a wise and generous council at times when I seek some clarity. This type of support is invaluable for both women and men. How else would you learn, if not for the prodding, encouragement and valuable experience of others. I have learnt about what is important and what is not, and a recent acute illness, has really made me reflect on the things I have learnt along my life and career journey.

I have met many others who have also been winners and finalists, and also those involved in the process of interviewing and shortlisting process, who are also amazing business women. I have enjoyed meeting them, encouraging them, learning from and laughing with them, as we have undertaken and then reflected on our own unique journeys.

What advice would you give to other women who are interested in the Awards but haven’t yet taken the plunge? 

I find when you are challenged you have the greatest learning opportunities. These Awards present one of those valuable opportunities. If you know someone who is doing great things within the business they lead, or you are the person that is doing interesting, innovative or great things in a business, applying alone is worthwhile. Of course being recognised externally and awarded with a Telstra Business Woman Award is amazing.


Lynda Schenk | Director | Purple Giraffe Marketing

Why did you apply for the TBWA?

Originally nominated by a member of my staff, my main motivation to take on the challenge and to enter myself and Purple Giraffe Marketing (my business) was that after four years of operation I felt ready and proud of what Purple Giraffe had achieved and that we were ready to be placed in the company of other remarkable businesses and business women. It was also an excellent opportunity to build the profile and brand of my business and to ratify that our direction, systems and processes were ‘up to scratch’ so to speak. The intensiveness of the application, and then the interview, ensures that any holes are exposed, giving each applicant the opportunity to identify and then work on them. I also saw it as a way of meeting other inspirational women in business, which I personally love to do as I get so much joy out of hearing about other peoples stories and success.

What was your experience with the entry process?

I found the application process to be an incredibly intensive and comprehensive undertaking, providing me with the opportunity to step outside of ‘my business’ and to systematically look at all aspects of Purple Giraffe. Although I found this to be daunting at the beginning, and the length and breath of the online application certainly is a commitment, once I began I found it to be a very rewarding exercise that highlighted to me where I needed to spend more time within my business and also that in the evolution of Purple Giraffe thus far, our policies, practices and client relationships were mostly sound and something to be very proud of.

How did the application process change your work behaviour (if at all)?

Undertaking the awards process did identify to me that as the business had grown it was now time to update and expand some of our processes for better efficiency with the business. Since the awards, key members of my business and myself have been working on this to ensure that we are providing the very best environment and outcomes for both our clients and us.

What did becoming a finalist/winner do for you personally?

To be completely honest earning a place as a finalist was an incredibly exciting moment of personal recognition for me. Seeking this is not why I entered the awards, or started my own business, but it made me realise how important validation is for those brave enough to take this leap. I thank these awards and Telstra for providing this platform as being a business owner can at times be an intimidating and solitary experience.

As well as the above it has made me incredibly proud of my business, my team and my clients who have all been a part of this journey, and provided me with an understanding that we are getting it right and need to continue to work at doing so. It has also inspired me, to keep up the good work and to continue to forge forward and be brave.

Lastly, it has provided me with the opportunity to join a network of like-minded and incredibly inspirational women and to network with these remarkable people within my own state and nationally. This has provided such a valuable learning environment and one in which I am planning to be an active member off for years to come.

What did becoming a finalist/winner do for your business?

For Purple Giraffe it has been very exciting. My team members, whom I value so much, have been thrilled to also be a part of this process. It has been recognition to us all that we are un-doing business!

For the business itself, and being in marketing which is a boon, it has provided us with countless and valuable opportunities to network, build our brand, it’s credibility and it has generated excellent social media content.

What advice would you give to other women who are interested in the Awards but haven’t yet taken the plunge?

When taking on this process, be sure to give yourself enough time to produce a quality application that does your business justice. Be prepared to look within and at your business with a critical and distant perspective and be open to understanding what you are doing well and what needs work. And then go for it – completely! It’s a total commitment thing if you are really going to get the most out of it.

What’s next – for you or your business?

With a new lease on business life I plan to continue to lead and foster a truly flexible working environment for both my team and my clients. I will continue to support young professionals by providing opportunities to get real experience. Most importantly I want to ensure we work smarter – to commit to making sure our processes are first class and as efficient as they can be before we grow again – and grow we will!

To find out more about the Telstra Womens Awards click here: https://www.telstrabusinesswomensawards.com/

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Margot Stolle

Margot Stolle is a marketing professional with over 15 years experience within several different industries including: sports and events sponsorship; business and financial planning; and fashion. She also owns and manages her own brand of children's sleepwear which is e-retailed and has experience in designing and editing websites and managing social media platforms.

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