Awards Ambassadors


Karen Phillips – Women in Business Australia and Women in Business Awards Founder and Executive Director

Karen Phillips launched the first Women in Business Awards initiative in 2013 as a pilot program on the Gold Coast with the fundamental goal to develop esteemed platform to recognise and celebrate female driven enterprises while supporting local economies.

Since the first highly successful Awards program, thousands of women have been part of the Awards experience, celebrating their achievements and entrepreneurial spirit of female achievers, visionaries and innovators across industry sectors and community endeavors in Cities and regional territories.

Since founding the Awards in 2013, the Program has expended to incorporate the Awards and its alumni program, business education series and annual Women in Business Summit encourage entrepreneurship, business, acumen, empowerment and inspired leadership.

Karen is author of the highly acclaimed best-selling book ‘Women’s Words of Wisdom, Power & Passion’ celebrating the centenary of International Women’s Day featuring inspiring insights from 50 iconic Australian women which was launched by the then Governor-General Quentin Bryce at Government House.

She holds both corporate and community leadership and board roles and is a highly sought-after international speaker and educator in women’s leadership, brand and pathways for women in business and youth development both in Australia and the Middle East.

Karen received the Gold Coast Citizen of the Year 2018 honour, was honoured as Australian Young Citizen of the Year Award recipient and was appointed by the Federal Minister for Women to represent Australia at the United Nations 65th Assembly of Women in 2020.

Sallyanne Atkinson AO

Sallyanne Atkinson has had a long career in politics and business. The first female Lord Mayor of Brisbane, former Senior Trade Commissioner to Paris and former Special Representative for Queensland in South East Asia, she is now a distinguished guest speaker, business mentor and regularly appears on television and radio and contributes to newspapers. She is considered one of Australia’s leading female achievers.

Adrienne Ward – Non Executive Director

Adrienne has an extensive background in corporate and government strategy, as well as working in high-risk and dynamic environments.

Along with her husband, she currently owns 4 McDonalds Restaurants in Gladstone and has previously worked in state and national roles within organisations such as Accenture, Westpac Banking Corporation and Leighton Contractors.

Adrienne is a passionate advocate and contributor to both Gladstone and Queensland. Her current roles include:

  • Chairman, Gladstone Airport Corporation;
  • Chairman, Gladstone Area Water Board;
  • Chairman, ISEEC Animation
  • Non-Executive Director, Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service;
  • President, Gladstone Hockey Association;
  • Panel Member of The Public Transport Fares Advisory Panel, Qld;
  • Member of Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) Central Queensland Committee;
  • Ambassador for the Women in Business Awards of Australia.

Adrienne was awarded The Centenary Medal in 2003 by the then Prime Minister, John Howard AC for distinguished service and achievement in business and commerce and was also a Telstra Businesswoman of the Year recipient.

Pam Parker – Women’s Leadership Mentor

Pam Parker served as the first female Mayor for Logan City and councillor for almost 20 years until retiring at the 2016 elections.

Pam served as Chair of the Logan Disaster Management Committee, an Executive Member for the Council of Mayors South East Queensland, the LGAQ  and the Women in Local Government Committee.

Whilst Mayor, she was a recipient of Economic Development Australia Award and was honoured to receive the Rotary Paul Harris Fellowship for service to the community above and beyond the call of duty.

Pam is currently Chair of the Local Government Grants Commission (Qld), member of  the panel of review of the ECQ performance.   Pam is a proud Ambassador for Women in Business.   She is involved in the speaking circuit, passionately empowering young people and women from all walks of life to believe in themselves.

Jennifer Wittwer CSM

Jen Wittwer, CSM, is an internationally and nationally acclaimed keynote speaker and published writer on gender equality and women’s participation in the security and defence sector, who has been recognized with numerous national awards. With thirty-eight years in the Australian military, Jen has experience in leadership, organisational change, large-scale cultural and workplace reform, and implementing contemporary and niched people-oriented and gender-responsive policy strategies and policy solutions. In recent years, Jen has worked for international organizations in Afghanistan, Brussels, New York and Ukraine, on a range of projects relating to women roles in peace and security efforts. Jen has post-graduate qualifications in logistics, management studies and strategic leadership, and is currently completing a Graduate Certificate in Gender, Peace and Security at Monash University. In 2016, Jen founded Steorra Consulting to help organisations address the challenges of increasing women’s participation and representation in the workplace. For more information see

Catherine O’Sullivan

Catherine is an executive of CG Spectrum College of Digital Art & Animation.

Catherine is a commercially focused, entrepreneurial CEO and Board Director. She has extensive experience (over three decades) in senior governance and leadership roles within education and government. Catherine has led education, employment policy, performance and transformation agendas, along with senior roles at two different universities.

Catherine has been nationally recognised for leading strategy and innovation in highly regulated environments and impactful partnerships.

Catherine is a former Pro Vice-Chancellor, Pathways and Partnerships at Bond University (2013 to 2018), and a former CEO at RMIT Training, and is currently Chair of St Hilda’s, which is an all-girls school on the Gold Coast.

Catherine is an invited Member of the Harvard Women’s Leadership Board. She holds an Executive Masters in Public Administration ANZSOG, Diploma of Education and Bachelor of Arts from the University of New England. Catherine is a Churchill Fellow and a Queensland Telstra Business Woman of the Year.

The Hon. Karen Andrews MP

Federal Member for McPherson.

Karen Andrews brings her experience in engineering, industrial relations and running her own business to  her role as Federal Member for McPherson and former Minister for Home Affairs.

In March 2021, Karen was elevated to the Home Affairs portfolio in the Morrison Government. The Home Affairs department works together with the Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, to keep Australia safe.

Prior to that, Karen put Australian manufacturing back on the map as the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. Her achievements in this portfolio included the $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy, as well as the $160 million Manufacturing Modernisation Fund. She also guided the Australian Space Agency through its highly successful first year, and towards a goal of tripling the size of the sector to $12 billion and creating 20,000 new jobs by 2030.

Dr Kay Danes OAM

Dr Kay Danes OAM is a human rights law advocate with GAP Veteran & Legal Services (Australia). Her work is primarily focused on human rights advocacy and humanitarian response, operating in armed conflict, disasters and other complex emergencies. When Afghanistan fell to the control of the Taliban in August 2021, Kay assisted thousands of Afghans and other foreign nationals physically escaping persecution. She successfully coordinated the lawful evacuation of over 3500 Afghans to Australia. Kay is currently providing risk-mitigation services to at-risk individuals and groups dealing with the Ukraine crisis.

Kay is also a former hostage and has a compelling, personal story of ‘moving forward’ from hostage to humanitarian. She endured torture and adversity and her experiences have been incorporated into an in-house training program (Hostage—Survive with Dignity), designed for Australian Defence Force personnel deploying to armed conflict.

In recognition of her service to the international and Australian community in human rights & social justice, Kay was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia.

Deb Farnworth-Wood – Women in Business Awards Australia Envoy

Deb is a serial entrepreneur, and the founder of the world-leading medi-aesthetic franchise Australian Skin Clinics. Born in Kenya and raised in the UK, Deb’s remarkable story is one of moving to the other side of the world to retire – only to build a $70m business. She was honoured as the Women in Business Awards of Australia ‘Gold Coast Woman in Business of the Year’ in 2016.

Having spotted an opportunity to build a successful franchise model, Deb moved her family to the Gold Coast in 2007 and got down to work. She launched the franchise in 2011 and five years later, she had grown the business to 60 clinics across Australia and New Zealand and reshaped an ailing skincare brand, scooping up multiple awards in the process. She was named Gold Coast Woman in Business of the Year 2017, and was a finalist in the EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards in 2016.

Deb’s career has been punctuated by ‘firsts’. She was the first non-doctor to become a partner in a UK medical practice, and her group were the first non-pharmacist to own a UK pharmacy. She also opened England’s first drive-thru pharmacy. It’s a testament to her incredible vision and passion for the aesthetics industry that she continues to push the boundaries of business to this day.

Since selling the Australian Skin Clincis Franchise in Feb 2019 Deb has rebranded her original Gold Coast clinic to Ultimate Skin & Body purchased  Issada Cosmetics Mineral Makeup brand and launched Issada Clinical Firmuka Skincare.
In her “spare time” she sits on the advisory board of AirPhysio (a device to assist with COPD and respiratory  problems) and is a founder shareholder and board director of Aura Medical – a group consolidating Dermatology, Skin cancer and aesthetic clinics.

This is a unique website which will require a more modern browser to work!

Please upgrade today!