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Here are a selection of winners recognised for Their great work and innovation at recent awards on the small business calendar:

2006 Telstra Business Woman of the Year Awards

Margot Spalding, co-owner and co-founder of Jimmy Possum Furniture in Victoria, is the 2006 Telstra Business Woman of the Year.

“I was stunned and relieved,” says Spalding. “I couldn’t believe that anyone could be recognised so significantly for doing something they love. It is a great reward for seriously hard work and effort.”

Spalding and her husband established Jimmy Possum Furniture in 1995 in a small shed with one employee. Today employee numbers have hit 150, and the business has grown to five retail stores, as well as supplying furniture to over 60 stores across the country.

Spalding, who also took home the National Westpac Business Owner award at the event, says confidence has been an important part of her success, as well as not being intimidated by the predominantly male business world. “There is not strong enough representation of women in business in Australia,” she explains. “At every business function I go to there is a very strong predominance of men. Women need to believe they can be successful in business, and go for broke.”

Other national winners are Dr Jennifer Smiley, from the Illawarra Family Medical Centre, who received the Zaffyre International Private and Corporate Sector Award; Anne Bradford from the Department of Defence who was presented with the Hudson Community and Government Award; Linda Lowndes, inventor and director of Microskin International, recipient of the Australian Government Business Innovation Award; and Amy Sznicer, retail operations and marketing manager for fashion brand Brown Sugar, who was the winner of the Panasonic Young Business Women’s Award.


Entrepreneur of the Year

A pair of 27-year-old young guns from New South Wales came up trumps at Ernst & Young’s annual business award.

Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes, founders of enterprise software company Atlassian, not only scooped the Young Entrepreneur category, they went on to be named the 2006 Australian Entrepreneurs of Year. It’s the first time Australian winners of the ‘Young’ category have gone on to take home the main prize.

In the last four years, Atlassian has built up a client base of 5,000 including NASA, Microsoft and the BBC. James Millar, Ernst & Young CEO, says the pair epitomise the entrepreneurial spirit, and are an inspiration for other businesspeople. “Aside from creating and growing a customer focused business, they have incorporated elements of social responsibility with a charitable foundation, as well as involving staff across key decisions. Ernst & Young commends Atlassian on being the best of a brilliant bunch.”

Other winners were Tania de Jong from not-for-profit organisation The Song Room (social entrepreneur category), Dr Andrew Walker and Glenn Keys from healthcare provider Aspen Medical (services—including financial, business and property), Derek Rynenberg from temporary fencing company ATF Hire (retail, consumer and industrial products), and Lyle Bruce and David Noon from ground measurement company GroundProbe (technology, communications, e-commerce and life sciences).


Nescafe Big Break

A young surf photographer from Tasmania beat over 4,000 entrants to take home the 2006 Nescafe Big Break $100,000 prize.

“I’m absolutely stoked, it’s awesome. I can’t take the smile off my face,” says Stuart Gibson, 23 (pictured above, right), one of five finalists in the competition to receive $15,000. He picked up the extra $85,000 after receiving the most votes in the online public voting competition.

“The cash is going to be so useful,” he says, announcing plans to use his winnings to build a revolutionary 270 degree camera which will allow him to achieve the widest possible angles. He also has a book in the pipeline, titled Extreme Surfing in Tasmania.

“I’ve never been so passionate and proud about anything until now,” says Gibson, who began taking photos three years ago. “The Nescafe Big Break has given me the opportunity to achieve my goals years earlier than I thought possible.”

For more information about Gibson and the other finalists in the competition visit www.nescafebigbreak.com.au

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