Canberra’s Women in Business are a winning combination

Genevieve Jacobs23 September 2020
From left: Sheena Ireland, Nadia Pessarossi, Christine Marr.

From left: Sheena Ireland, Nadia Pessarossi and 2019 Canberra Business Woman of the Year Christine Marr. Photo: Jodie Shepherd, Hot Shots.

Twenty five years ago, a group of Canberra women had a good idea to create an organisation founded by women and run solely for women to provide support and development opportunities for businesswomen in the Canberra region.

Canberra Women in Business (CWB) was born.

“There were not a lot of options for women in business in 1992,” says CWB president Maryann Gore.

The founders were members of the Canberra Business Chamber but they recognised a need to create specific women’s networks and support systems, especially for people in male dominated businesses.

For more than quarter of a century, there have been a lot of reasons for CWB to celebrate, including the annual Canberra Business Woman of the Year awards.

The awards were first held 12 years ago and are designed to further the CWB agenda by encouraging, acknowledging and rewarding the contributions made by women in small-to-medium business. Nominations for the 2020 awards opened this week.

Maryann says many women have applied and benefitted from the awards process.

“When people enter, they really grow in confidence,” she says. “You can almost see them grow another foot. It’s the process of reflecting on their achievements and understanding how much they have actually achieved.”

In 2019, CWB significantly expanded its categories, including awards for Indigenous business woman of the year, social impact and innovation. These categories remain in 2020 although COVID-19 has slimmed down the awards’ scale.

“This year, our focus is on the business women, young women and small businesses with less than 20 employees,” says Maryann. “The social impact category is for people who don’t work for a profit-making business but in social areas where there are different metrics.

Canberra Women in Business committee with president Maryann Gore (third from left)..

The 2020 Canberra Women in Business committee with president Maryann Gore (third from left). Photo: Jodie Shepherd, Hot Shots.

“Innovation is also another big category for us, recognising people who have had new and creative business ideas.”

Maryann was once a CWB awards winner herself and the value of the awards system is endorsed by 2019 Canberra Business Woman of the Year Christine Marr, who says one of the best things to come out of the win was being approached by other women for mentorship.

The winners in 2019 included Indigenous Business Woman of the Year – Laurie McDonald; Young Business Woman of the Year – Erica Hediger; Small Business of the Year – Holly Komorowski; Micro Business of the Year – Margaret Wade; Innovation Award – Megan Gilmour; Mentor of the Year – Sheena Ireland; Public Service Award – Georgeina Whelan; Social Impact Award – Juliet Moody and Heidi Prowse.

CWB would also like more women to join its network and enjoy the support and opportunities offered throughout the year.

Although 2020 has been quiet, Maryann says members benefit from developing business skills and networks in an environment tailored to the needs of women, with the direct effect of creating the confidence needed to establish and grow successful businesses.

The award nominations close on 2 October and finalists will be announced on 16 October.

Canberra Women in Business is hopeful it will be able to hold its gala dinner at the National Arboretum on 5 November. However, if COVID-19 restrictions prevent it, there’ll be an online presentation for the winners.

“We’d love to give people a bit of a party to celebrate their work,” says Maryann.

You can find out more about entering the 2020 Canberra Women in Business awards here.

Original Article published by Genevieve Jacobs on The RiotACT.

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