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Collector’s Edition CairnsLife

Profiles on inspirational businessmen in our local community by

Tropical North Queensland


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Business WOMen

2014 Profiles on inspirational business women in our local community by CairnsLife

Business Men Tropical North Queensland

Collector’s Edition



CairnsLife Magazine is proud to present the first exciting hard cover edition of Women in Business. Join us on a journey of discovery as we provide snapshots of some of our region’s most creative, hardworking and successful women. Although their backgrounds and careers differ they all share a deep passion for what they do, and the desire to make a difference in people’s lives. Some are well-known in our community through face-to-face contact with the public, while others work diligently behind the scenes; and regardless of their profession or business, they are dedicated individuals who are instrumental in contributing to a stronger local economy, and the growth of the Cairns region. This special Women in Business edition is an ideal way to get to know them. Find out how they chose their career paths, the sacrifices and decisions they have made to get to where they are today, what makes them successful, their most valued achievements, and their ultimate goals and visions for the future. You are sure to be inspired by the stories they have to tell, as we pay tribute to these amazing and talented women. We are very lucky to have such them in our midst!

Jacqui Nolan

Joint Publisher


Contents PAGES



Krystyle tokunai Tokunai Hair


trudy di cola The Zanzoo Group


Debbie hancock Cairns Chamber


NYREE BANKS Health Naturally


Betty wright Wright’s Industrial Waste


amanda gale Amanda Gale Physiotherapy


Annie gillow Annie’s Ladies Boutique


Deborah storer Backstreet Dance


GEENA court Court House Realty / Rentals Short Term


megan o’ neill Cairns Quality Accounting


NIkki dungar Bubs n Bumps


tracey wilson Working Visions




fiona jose Cape York Institute


olivia white Salt House


Margie mckenzie Gempearl


Suzie pont Anglicare


Rebecca mckenna Health Management


nicole bragg Bragg Real Estate


stephanie palmer Peppermint Lane Photography


rhonda coyne Nq Ortho


natasha kollosche Civil Celebrant


charmaine matthews Austart Homes


denise mitchell Elders Cairns


hayley williams C-Me Swim/Just Kids


wendy scuderi Cairns Aluminium Services


Susan cooper LJ Hooker Cairns Yorkeys Knob


franca forde Staffing Solutions


linda soblusky Fifo Capital


suellen maunder JUTE Theatre Company


joanna magee Audiohealth


katrina spies Qite


susan rees Aussie Interact


iefje boissevain UnderArt Gallery


mercedes gonzalez Flight Centre


dr donna turnbull Psychserenity Clinical Psychology


Nicole belle Face Today Mediclinic


jodie creek Zoo To You


kerry woodgate I Do Flowers


fiona mcfarlane Gateway Media Group


raya mayo Dial A Doctor


cate ashmore Dedicated Training & Consulting Group


susie engLand Tropical Property


sue collins Cairns Beauty Academy Salon and School


rhonda higham Skin and Light Medi Clinic


janelle given Kennedys Betta Home Living


roslyn smith Affinity Designer Homes


kylie gabutto Cairns Business Women’s Club


linda mair Canine Training School


suzannah dacre Stella Life Spa


emma miller EmPowerFx


jenny cavallaro Allaro Homes


julianNe field JMC Architects


jenny austin Harleys Educational


shelley evens-wild Unique People


simone roos Venture NQ


catriona burke Smithfield Law


bertie Von Weissenfluh Bertie’s Total Interiors


Cairns Chamber




eb Hancock is known for her energy, capability, warmth and passion. Traits coupled with her desire to bring people together and make a difference to the community. And it’s a passion she has been putting into practice since becoming the chief executive officer of the Cairns Chamber of Commerce in 2012. “I believe anything is possible if you work hard enough, don’t give up, and surround yourself with positive people,” Deb says. That said, Deb admits success doesn’t come easily – but rather as the result of hard work, learning and doing the right thing by others. “It’s a fallacy to think someone is ‘lucky’ for the success they have achieved. There is no such thing as luck, it is the combination of preparation and opportunity.” Deb believes strongly in the words of one of her favourite leaders, Richard Branson, who states ‘to be successful as a business leader, you must have the bravery to give it a go.’ “This is especially true when you need to take a stand to do the right thing, which may not be the most popular thing. It takes courage, resolve and conviction to overcome hurdles and give others confidence, especially in challenging times.” And Deb has certainly seen plenty of those. In collaboration with the Cairns Chamber Management Committee, Deb is responsible for providing constructive and effective leadership for the business community, as well as driving positive change and improved business confidence in the Cairns region. “We are at the tipping point as a region and everyone is coming together to be part of the solution. It’s really inspiring to see.”






Deb’s leadership style is in line with her belief that leadership is an opportunity to facilitate the greatness of others – not personal agendas. And to achieve the best outcomes for the community, she says it’s important for everyone to work together to build trust. “I always try to make solid connections with people on a personal level, not just professionally, so there can be a level of mutual understanding and engagement in an authentic manner.” A self-confessed workaholic, Deb admits it’s important to take care of yourself and maintain a healthy work-life balance. With a nine-year-old son at home, finding the balance between career and motherhood can be difficult. So she sets aside time for friends and family, keeping active, eating well and having fun.

“I find if I do these things, I have more energy, patience, creativity, and a lot more generosity of spirit and kindness available to give to others.” Deb has a Bachelor of Commerce/Business with double majors in Business Law and Marketing. She is also a Certified Practicing Project Manager and has a Diploma in Public Relations, Publicity and Promotion and a Diploma in Project Management. A believer in ‘paying it forward’,



Deb is a board member of Advance Cairns, Cairns RSL, International Association of Infant Massage Australia (IAIMA) and a Committee member for the Cairns Corporate Challenge and Defence Reserves Support Council. Deb is also in training for the Kokoda Trek later this year and is working with a team of business people to raise $100,000 for a Cancer Wellness Centre in Cairns.

Greatest inspiration Richard Branson, Nelson Mandela, Lorna Jane and Steve Jobs. Greatest challenge So many opportunities – so little time. Managing my workaholic tendencies. Knowing that I can’t please everyone. Making time for me. Greatest achievement My son. I am so proud of the man he is growing up to be. Secret to success Work hard. Never give up. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Expect the best. Help others be successful. Have fun. Future vision In the future, we will look back on this time as the turning point for significant growth in our region. Great things are going to happen

Wright’s Industrial Waste



right W “But what can you do but smile and laugh. If you didn’t laugh, you’d cry. And never leave to tomorrow what you can do today. If everyone did that, this world would be a very different place.”


ewing a strip of pink lace to the hem of a man’s shirt is a sure way to get him to tuck it in. So that’s exactly what Betty Wright did when one of her employees ignored repeated requests to look more presentable. As the widowed director of one of Far North Queensland’s biggest waste contractors, Wright’s Industrial Waste, Betty had a thick skin, a quick wit and a wicked humour – and at the age of 70, she’s still got it. “Just because it’s a garbage truck doesn’t mean they have to be dirty,” she said. “One of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me was I had the cleanest garbage trucks in the business.” Betty soon forged the reputation of a formidable woman doing business in a man’s world. Anyone who dared cross her would usually be served a taste of their own medicine, with a spoonful of Betty’s unique humour. “People would call and ask to speak to the manager.


When they got me they would usually repeat they wanted the manager, not a woman. “I would say ‘I am the manager and I am a woman. Do you still want to speak to me?’ It was their choice. If not, I’d say ‘no use talking then, goodbye’ and hang up. I wasn’t there to be insulted. “I had a couple of arguments with people over the years, and it got me the reputation of being a hard woman. More than a few times I heard people say ‘don’t cross her’. But I had to stand up for myself. Being a woman, people would walk all over me otherwise. And being a woman, I stood out.” Nearly 20 years have passed since Betty sold the business and retired. And she’s pleased to see more women in management and other traditionally male roles. “Times certainly have changed,” she said. “More and more women are doing the work once only a man would do. Driving mine trucks, buses, trams. And why shouldn’t we, we’re just as good as them.” But Betty’s career was never about proving a point. Nor was it about money. As a mother of six, her first concern was, and always would be, her family. When her husband, John Wright, died in 1989, Betty had no choice but to take the reins of the business to support her boys, and continue providing a vital service to communities of the Far North. Her selfless efforts in the face of adversity allowed the business to span three generations and almost 70 years. And it all started with a love story - a chance meeting with her soul mate in the Christmas holidays of 1962. Betty was visiting Pittsworth

in south-east Queensland for her brother’s wedding and spent Christmas with her sister. She was asked to a New Year’s dinner with John, and less than 18 months later, they were married in Tully. The couple moved to Pittsworth, where John’s father had operated the waste collection business since 1927. Collecting and carting waste by horse and dray, it was a humble incarnation of the major operation it would later become. John took over the business when his father retired, and in the late 1960s extended its reach to Innisfail where he and Betty lived for 14 years. The company later won the waste contract for Cairns, and the need to grow the business with a personal touch saw them move there in 1981. The city was growing rapidly, along with demands for better waste management. But the growth of the business meant more expenses, and Betty took a night job packing shelves at a supermarket to help pay the bills. Eventally all six of the couple’s sons joined the business too. “The first lesson John taught them was to never ask anyone else to do a job they weren’t prepared to do themselves,” Betty said. “John certainly lived by that rule. “And he would never speak bluntly to anyone. If he had anything to say to a worker, it stayed between him and them, not the whole establishment. “John was a quiet sort of fellow, never one to go out and he never got in a bad mood. I would, I would go off ! But he never did, so you couldn’t get wild at him, he’d just have you in tears of laughter.” That kind and considerate nature earned John the highest respect among his staff, peers and even industry rivals. Never was that more evident than at his funeral - one of the biggest to be held at St Monica’s, bringing traffic to a standstill. At the time, Wright’s was responsible for waste management from Innisfail to Port Douglas. And in 1990, Wrights successfully tendered for the waste management contract for Weipa, incorporating the Comalco mine. Betty said she had no choice but to ‘get on with the job’. “I came in at a good time. Cairns was flourishing and we had to grow with it,” she said. “I was just lucky John had the foresight to predict that growth, and the business was ready. At Weipa we offered a complete package, running the town’s sewerage treatment works, landfill, recycling oil from the mine

and mainstream domestic, commercial and industrial waste. In Cairns we did everything too, from street sweeping to pumping out septics and collecting garbage. John knew it was coming, he always seemed to see the future when no one else could.” That aptitude and service to his community earned John a plaque and memorial garden outside the Cairns Regional Council offices. Betty said she and her family often laughed at the prospect such an honour would be reserved for ‘the garbage man’. “But it just goes to show, if you do your job properly and you’re honest, that’s all that matters,” she said. “And there was no chance of an unhappy customer in John’s day. He always promised satisfaction guaranteed, or double your rubbish back.” As the years went on, Cairns continued to grow. Rubbish dumps started reaching capacity, and the need for recycling and more environmentally sustainable practices brought with them even higher operating costs. By the mid-1990s, the seven top waste companies in the world had their sights set on Wrights. The decision to sell to an Australian company won out and Betty sold the business to Cleanaway in 1996. “It was really hard. I really did feel that I’d let John down. “But I know if he was here he would’ve said the time is right.” These days Betty is enjoying her retirement, but it’s far from quiet. She is involved in a church group raising money for an orphanage in East Timor and volunteers for the Leukaemia Foundation. She has 14 grandchildren and two great grandchildren, and is planning a trip overseas to visit the soon to arrive number three. “Someone once said I was lucky to have six good boys. That wasn’t luck, it was bloody hard work,” she said. “But I am lucky to have such a beautiful family. It’s been quite a ride, I’ve had some interesting experiences that’s for sure.

Biggest inspiration My husband. Greatest obstacle or challenge Not knowing if I could run the business successfully on my own. Career highlight I suppose when I received the Cairns Business Woman of the Year Award. Secret to success To do the best you think is the best at the time. Hopes for the future That all my boys and their families grow up and achieve what they wish to, and see their children like I’m seeing mine today.


Annie’s Ladies Boutique

Annie Gillow N

othing makes Annie Gillow happier than seeing women walk out of her stores with smiles on their faces and a spring in their step. Her biggest driver is being able to make a positive difference to other peoples’ lives, and she does that every day at Annie’s Ladies Boutique. Since opening her first store at Palm Cove in 2008, Annie has learnt never to underestimate the power of making a woman feel beautiful. She soon realised a demand for a second store in Cairns CBD, which came into being at the Boland’s Centre in 2011. “I really thought I would be opening a replica of the Palm Cove store but realised the city store needed more variety along with office wear and race wear,” Annie said. “So far, I have created two very different stores, both suited to their locations.” Stocking women’s clothing in sizes 8 to 28, Annie prides herself on offering something for every woman. She discovered her ‘unexplainable flair’ for styling at a young age, sewing her own clothes, adjusting patterns and mixing prints. Wardrobe was one of Annie’s many responsibilities in her previous role as a production manager on various children’s television game shows where she styled

the hosts and contestants and even two-metre tall puppets. She was also accountable for a myriad of other tasks including budgets, hiring and managing staff, booking studios and liaising with script writers and graphic designers.

tropical warmth and I never give up on finding garments in the right shapes at the best prices. When you buy an Annie’s outfit, you know I have personally put a lot of consideration, effort and love into choosing only the best.”

“Looking back, it wasn’t work, it was crazy and it was serious fun.”

Biggest inspiration Edith Head, winner of eight Academy Awards for Costume Design in movies, dressing Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly. Her designs were truly amazing. And what’s not to love about the character of Patsy in ‘Ab Fab’. Joanna Lumley, at 68, is still carrying on and living life to the fullest, supporting over 70 charities while looking absolutely fabulous!

Following the passing of her husband, Annie needed a change of direction. “I knew it had to be big or I would get bored. I wanted to put my heart and soul into making a difference.” It was then that Annie realised a gap in the market for cotton, linen, silk and rayon in Far North Queensland’s women’s clothing stores - and Annie’s Ladies Boutique was born. “The fabric is my first and foremost priority,” she said. “There are a lot of great styles out there but the fabric just doesn’t breathe, which means the wearer will be uncomfortable very quickly and perspiration is not pretty. “One of the main reasons behind my success is being a good listener,” Annie said. “I also understand fabrics and their relation to the

Greatest obstacles or challenge Whenever a challenge arises, I tell myself ‘don’t be precious, just get on with it!’ Career highlight Recently being invited to a new fashion label launch in New York. Secret to success That’s easy! I love what I do! Future direction I reassess my business plan every 12 months and my lucky number is eight. Maybe that means eight stores…


Court House Realty / Rentals Short Term

G ee n a

Court T

hrough hard work, creative thinking and positive energy, Geena Court has earned a reputable name for herself in the property industry. Despite already establishing two successful businesses; Court House Realty and Rentals Short Term, Geena is determined to pursue new avenues to help regenerate the building industry of Cairns. Originally from Sydney, Geena displayed an independent spirit from a young age. After leaving home at 15 her first position was in the real estate industry, and this was to become a lifelong passion. “I just loved property straight away,” she says. “It was this whole new world I hadn’t seen before.” Two years later, she bought a ticket around Australia making it as far as Cairns where she has lived for the past 26 years. “I instantly felt like I’d come home.” After taking on various roles within the Cairns’ real estate industry, Geena established Court House Realty in 1999. Since then she’s gone on to sell over 50 apartment projects including the 108-apartment, Amphora Palm Cove Resort, and was nominated sole agent for a 396 apartment development. Now celebrating 15 years in business, she has experienced a number of career highlights including being named Cairns Business Woman of the Year in 2006. “In order to give 100% you have to believe in yourself and be passionate about what you do,” she says. After selling the property management division of Court House Realty, Geena was inspired to start a new niche business. Positioned between the permanent and holiday rental markets, Rentals Short Term is based on a minimum 7-night stay. “The more you stay the less you pay,” says Geena. “Visitors are saving money on accommodation whilst owners are benefiting as well from a higher than normal return.” Now representing properties Australia-wide, Geena and her team manage properties in Cairns and Townsville, whilst


also working as a booking agent for those outside the region. In her spare time, Geena is completing her 14th renovation project in Bayview Heights, studying a Diploma of Interior Design and Decorating, and writing a book. She also hints at plans to launch another business to help kick-start the local building industry.

‘If something isn’t working it’s time to change it,” she says. “Every obstacle is just a speed bump and there’s never been a doubt in my mind that anyone can do whatever they want to do, they just have to fully believe in it and themselves.”

Biggest inspiration My amazing team, the sheer love of what I do … the passion to create, design, build and help others achieve their dreams. Greatest obstacle/challenge Not having enough time in the day to accomplish everything I want to accomplish. Career Highlight Being named 2006 Cairns Business Woman of the Year. Secret to success Believing in yourself and being passionate about what you do. Future direction Looking for new ways to stimulate building in Cairns, and expanding Rentals Short Term to include international travel .

Bubs n Bumps

*Bubs n Bumps is a copyright and design protected brand

N D u n gar



ith a Bubs n Bumps maternity top, there’s no chance of mistaking a growing baby bump for a big lunch - or too much chocolate. These humourous, wearable works of art are a fun way to show the world you’re expecting - and the brainchild of Cairns mum Nikki Dungar. The idea came to her when she was pregnant with her third child and constantly thinking about what her baby was doing on the inside. “At first it was only an idea because I knew I couldn’t draw the babies as well as I could imagine them, I’m definitely not an artist. “It was a few years later, when the thoughts of Bubs n Bumps was still on my mind that I realised I didn’t have to paint the babies myself – I could find an artist to do it for me.” It was then Nikki engaged the services of Hayley Gillespie who used her bright and fun style of art to create three designs, including the popular ‘Two Peas in the Pod’ for mother’s expecting twins. The best seller ‘Peek a Boo’ which depicts a baby seemingly peering out of mum’s belly button, was created by Kelly Spencer – an artist from Nikki’s original home of New Zealand. “I fell in love with her life-like images and knew it was a winner from the start.” Nikki was no stranger to business when she started Bubs n Bumps in 2009. She had previously operated her own beauty salon in Cairns and also had experience working with children, becoming a nanny in New Zealand as a teenager and working for several families including one with infant triplets and another who took her to Australia with them. By the age of 19, she had saved up enough money for a one-way ticket to Cairns where she worked in retail and hospitality while completing her diploma in beauty therapy. Despite having no previous experience with clothing manufacturing, Nikki decided to pursue her idea for Bubs n Bumps – devoting two and a half years to developing the brand and her online store before getting her product out to the public. “I wanted to create the tops using my own pattern. They needed to be flattering as well as comfortable and practical,” she said. “I had no previous experience in manufacturing, pattern design, or dress-making, so it was a big learning curve. I didn’t realise there would be so much involved with the different types of fabric or clothing labels.” With the help of magazines, maternity boutiques, emails and word of mouth, Bubs n Bumps started popping up everywhere. “Lucky for me every expecting mum who wears a Bubs n Bumps maternity top in public is advertising it, as you can’t help but notice them,” Nikki said. Bubs n Bumps has several stockists in Australia and New

Zealand and Nikki has plans to expand the line to America, Europe and Japan. This year will see the re-release of the Peek-A-Boo baby design with brown eyes and darker skin, following requests from Aboriginal, Maori and African women. Nikki said a Ulysses butterfly bamboo maternity dress was also among her future plans, along with more artwork designs for tops, and expansion of the website to include more baby apparel. But despite her busy schedule, Nikki has declared 2014 her year of balance. She is also the secretary of her husband’s block laying business but tries to work only when their children, 14, 11 and 9, are at school. Nikki enjoys creating healthy recipes, finding time to exercise most days and is also discovering the benefits of slowing down with meditation and yoga. “My children have learnt now, that if the office door is closed, it generally means not to disturb Mum, unless it’s really important. However, when the kids are home I don’t like to shut myself in the office, unless I really have to catch-up on business.”

“Many of my customers tell me how lots of people stop to ask where they got their top from.” Biggest inspiration Positive people, who are not afraid to be themselves, no matter what others may think. Biggest challenge Challenging people and limited start-up funds. Career highlight I still remember the excitement the first time I bumped into a complete stranger wearing one of my tops. Secret to success Great customer service and insisting on quality. Future direction For Bubs n Bumps to become a worldwide maternity label


& Barbarella Swan

Barbara D ippe n aar


ketching garment designs for fun as a five-year-old was a good indication of what was to come for Barbara Dippenaar. Born and raised in Europe with a mother who worked as a part-time photographic model, it wasn’t long before Barb found herself in front of the camera, modelling for a wellknown European department store by the age of 10. As she grew older, she longed to become a fashion designer, but admits sewing was not one of her strengths. “In those days, one had to be a good seamstress in order to be a designer,” she said. Barbara lived in South Africa for 18 years before moving to Perth in the 1980s and finally to Port Douglas almost six years ago, with semiretirement in mind. Her diverse upbringing has provided a unique insight into how women from different backgrounds see themselves, ‘and what impact clothing has on one’s confidence and personality’. “I felt that moving to Port Douglas presented a perfect opportunity to realise my dream,” Barb said. And from there, Barbarella and Swan was born, opening the doors in March 2010. The boutique is known for supporting Australian designers, and stocks elegant, timeless garments that are cut to flatter all shapes, with an emphasis on quality. “My boutique is continuously evolving and I am always on the lookout for new labels in order to offer my customers something fresh and new without sacrificing our fundamental style of classic with a contemporary twist,” Barb said.


“I feel Australian designers are unique, especially with their use of colours and fabrics.” Unfortunately, with many designers opting to save on production costs by manufacturing offshore, Barb finds it increasingly difficult to source 100 per cent Australian product. “There are still a lot of customers who prefer to buy a garment that is made in Australia, especially customers from Europe and the United States,” she said. “I am a people person, and one of the biggest bonuses of working in my boutique is meeting people from different countries and backgrounds. I love chatting to my customers about everything from politics to what they are experiencing on their holidays. I also love it when locals pop in for a chat.” Barb has received countless compliments from customers in the past four years, but by far the biggest was when a devoted customer named a racehorse ‘My Barbarella’ in honour of the boutique. Barbarella and Swan has also been a regular contender in the Douglas Business Awards, being named Best Fashion Retailer in 2013 and receiving multiple nominations in the Best Friendly Retail Service category. Barb said that level of success was only made possible with the support of her husband, dedicated staff and loyal customers.

“My husband is one of my biggest supporters and I don’t believe that I could have done this without him,” she said. Another key to success is employing staff who is as passionate as I am about our product and offering outstanding customer service. “I do not believe in pushy sales techniques and rather strive to make a customer feel special when choosing a garment. Exceptional service and assisting women to choose the perfect garment for their shape and lifestyle is the most important aspect of our business. Every customer should walk out of our boutique feeling fabulous and this is what keeps our customers coming back each year.”

Biggest inspiration The timeless elegance of Coco Chanel, Jackie Kennedy and Grace Kelly. Greatest obstacle or challenge To remain competitive stocking Australian made clothing amongst the influx of global retailers infiltrating Australia. Career highlight Every day is a highlight for me, as I follow my passion. Secret to success Hard work. Constantly evolving while staying true to our core style. Excellent customer service, and a passion to help my customers look and feel amazing. Future direction One day producing my own clothing label in Australia.

Salt House

Olivia White


rmed with an infectious personality, strong work ethic and “can-do” attitude, Olivia White has a rare gift for mixing it with people from all walks of life. While as Functions, Events & Marketing Manager of Salt House she’s already in charge of promoting one of the most iconic venues in Far North Queensland, she also hints that the best may be yet to come. Originally from Canberra, Olivia later relocated to Cairns where she completed her schooling and commenced her career. “I would have to say my greatest obstacle was moving here as an 11-year-old and leaving everything and everyone I knew behind,” she says. “However this one challenge changed my outlook on life and eventually made me realise just how good change can be and never to fear it.” After working her way up from promotions girl to Sea FM on air Cruiser driver and promotions co-ordinator, Olivia was later headhunted into hospitality. “It was a sink or swim situation so I got in and just worked it out,” she says. “It was a great opportunity that taught me a lot about marketing to demographics.” Since then she’s complimented her practical experience with an Events Diploma at TAFE while

spending the last four and a half years in her current position at Salt House. A hard worker who’s never afraid to have a go, Olivia brings a fun approach to her work environment and clearly revels in the social aspect of her role. “I love the interaction with people – both staff and patrons,” she says.

“There’s never a dull moment and no two days are ever the same.” She also credits the owners for their supportive and flexible approach, which has enabled her to become immersed in the role. “They also encourage us to support local producers to ensure we always present what’s best in the region.” Although already considered a premium venue, Salt House patrons can look forward to some exciting changes in the coming years including extensive renovations. “I’m fortunate to work in a fantastic venue, in undoubtedly the best location in Cairns, with a wonderful team and supportive owners who are constantly looking to improve and develop the business,” Olivia says. “So for now I am

still thrilled to be a part of the Salt House journey, however in the future I would love to own an online business so I can work from anywhere in the world, who wouldn’t?”

Biggest inspiration Her partner’s positive outlook, her father’s work ethic and her two 90-year-old grandmothers who still live independently. Greatest obstacle or challenge Moving to Cairns as an 11-year-old and facing a major change for the first time. Career Highlight Finalist in the 2013 Cairns Business Women’s Awards. Nominated for the 2014 Telstra Business Women’s Awards. Secret to success Never stop working towards your goals. Future direction To one day own an online business and work from anywhere in the world.






rom Cairo to Cairns, Suzie Pont’s career in human resources has taken her around the globe. She lived and worked in Egypt, learnt to speak Arabic and immersed herself in the Islamic culture before her work took her to the United States. There she based herself in Boston, New Orleans, Miami and Tennessee before returning to Australia and living in Brisbane. Three years ago she moved to Cairns as the executive manager of human resources for Anglicare. Suzie says it’s a rewarding role that allows her to play an integral role in finding the right people to help at-risk youth and the homeless right across the Far North. She is responsible for the design and implementation of human resources frameworks, including the recruitment, training and occupational health and safety requirements of 130 employees and more than 40 volunteers. It’s the first time she has worked in the not-for-profit sector and for a faith-based organisation, and it presents different opportunities and challenges to those she faced abroad, but she says the foundations and principles remain much the same. “Being in a third-world-country I was dealing with a predominately male workforce and at times it was very challenging, but it was good, and extremely rewarding that’s why I stayed so long,” she said. “Working in someone else’s country you want to learn as much as you can about the culture, so I tried to learn as much as possible about the culture and the people I worked with. It allows you to be more respectful of

the people and their ways.” It was the quality of life of Far North Queensland that ultimately lured Suzie to Cairns, but she hasn’t let the slower-paced life slow her down. In addition to many work commitments, she is completing an MBA with James Cook University and looking to pursue a PhD.

“You can’t just get your qualification then sit back and rest on your laurels,” she said. “I am continuing upskilling and training to ensure my knowledge remains current and I am pursuing further professional development for my own personal satisfaction.” Suzie has helped to foster a working relationship with James Cook University, allowing six HR students to complete work placements with Anglicare in the past two years. “It gives them a chance to see how a HR office operates and work on a meaningful project where they can make a difference,” she said. “Someone gave me that opportunity and now it’s about paying back, and passing on those opportunities to others.” The Anglican Diocese of North Queensland, Townsville established Cairns Anglican Youth Services in 1995, on a volunteer basis through local parishes. This resulted in the opening of the first crisis accommodation for youth in Cairns.

The organisation is now known throughout the region as Anglicare North Queensland Limited (ANQL) providing vital services to people in need in accordance with values that reflect the social justice charter of the Anglican Church. Anglicare services the geographical area of the Diocese of North Queensland, which ranges from south of Mackay, west to the Northern Territory border and north through the Cape to the Torres Strait.

Biggest inspiration I’m focusing on working toward finishing my MBA and furthering my studies, with my whole focus committed and disciplined to working in my personal time and holding myself accountable. Greatest obstacle or challenge HR has many responsibilities. Maybe among the most important I believe is developing the next generation of leaders and being more innovative as times change rapidly before our eyes. Career highlight Working internationally. Being able to live in several different countries and apply my knowledge to them all has been fantastic. Secret to success Continual learning – we never stop learning. Future direction My personal goal is to complete my MBA by end of this year and look at pursing a PhD.


BRAGG Real Estate

Nicole B ragg


ven when she sleeps, Nicole Bragg is thinking about real estate. Whether she’s getting the best price for a client or working to secure a quick sale, her focus never waivers. She is just as passionate now as when she started her career in the industry almost 10 years ago. “There was no real reason, the passion was just instinctive when it came to real estate,” she says. “And it still is today, I am constantly thinking about ways to improve and be better, to the point I think about it all the time. It makes me happy knowing I am improving and raising the bar in the industry. Born and raised in Yungaburra, Nicole has always had strong family ties to North Queensland. And after travelling overseas for several years, Nicole and her husband Warren returned to Cairns and started their young family, Bella, 8, and Braith, 6. “I couldn’t think of a better place in the world to raise my children” Nicole says. Wanting to return to work after having her children, Nicole joined Betta Real Estate in 2009. She says it was difficult to find an agency that encouraged licensed agents to operate as independent contractors, while offering the support of an established real estate company. “ After 5 great years, my vision to develop and build my brand to my own personal taste has progressed and my dream to open my very own Boutique Real Estate Agency


became real in June 2014. Offering a dynamic structure to reach unprecedented levels of excellence in industry I absolutely love has been a lifelong dream.” Nicole is known as an enthusiastic communicator and motivated salesperson, and has an evident passion for the local area and its people.

“The infectious excitement I get when I make people happy, I also get when I come up with a new idea,” she says. “I love thinking of new and innovative marketing, and developing and implementing those ideas.” Bragg Real Estate provides a standard of excellence in marketing and service that can be recognised against any sophisticated agency Australia wide. Nicole Bragg is a real estate professional who knows and understands that her business is about more than just property. It’s about people, homes, neighbourhoods and communities. Nicole says it’s an ever-changing industry but the challenges only

drive her and to work even harder. “Marketing, technology and the use of social media have all developed rapidly since I began my career in real estate ten years ago.” “But I find the younger generation agents work together. It’s nice to see we compete with our skills and not with the dog-eat-dog mentality from the early days. I think the new age of real estate will continue to lift the bar in service, skills, technology, innovation and attitude across the industry, and we’ll be there.”

Biggest inspiration Life, love and family - I am surrounded by amazing people. Greatest obstacle or challenge Time. Being a maternal mum and career driven doesn’t leave a lot of time at the end of the day. Career highlight Realising there isn’t another job in the world I would want to do other than Real Estate. Secret to success Be the best I can be. To be world class. Future business direction To fulfill my dream and making Bragg Real Estate known as holding the highest principles and standards, and behaving with utmost integrity and just doing the right thing by people.

nq ortho




rom extreme adventure racing, to unexpected motherhood at the age of 40, one thing that’s remained consistent in the life of Dr. Rhonda Coyne is a passion for her work and a commitment to helping others. As owner of nq ortho, she is recognised as one of the leading practitioners in orthodontic care. Now with practices in Cairns, Atherton and Innisfail, she is excited to offer the very latest technology available to ensure her patients experience minimal inconvenience and downtime. Originally from Brisbane, Rhonda spent part of her childhood in Cairns and the Atherton Tablelands. After completing her dentistry degree at the University of Queensland she went on to complete postgraduate study in orthodontics at Melbourne University. “My dad is an orthodontist and I actually liked having braces as a kid,” she says. “My passion ultimately lies in making a difference in someone’s life.” Providing a relaxed, family-oriented atmosphere, Rhonda and her staff are focused on putting patients at ease and encouraging them to be an active part of the transformation process. While many of us still associate braces with those awkward teenage years, fortunately the science of teeth straightening is now far more sophisticated. Using Insignia (a personalised virtual 3D imaging software system) the team at nq ortho generate a model of each patient’s mouth before deciding on the best course of action. The practice


also has an in-house orthodontic technician who often provides same day-turnaround, and offers patients the option of clear braces at no extra charge.

“We work hard to treat our patients the same way we would like to be treated,” Rhonda says. As a registered orthodontist who has completed an intensive three-year degree on top of five years study in dentistry, Rhonda provides clients with the best treatment options available. By regularly attending conferences she offers patients the latest advances in technology including AcceleDent (a portable take home system designed to accelerate orthodontic treatment time) and Invisalign (a series of invisible, removable, and comfortable aligners). “We have the fastest and most discrete clear braces, we also offer Invisalign to give our patients an unseen treatment experience with results that go beyond straight teeth,” Rhonda says. Also embracing technology of a different kind, nq ortho has established an interactive website at: www. In addition to information on the latest treatment

options, the website features a free downloadable smart phone app. that includes features such as a calendar for patients to book appointments and a map to locate the premises. Also recently launched, is a Patients’ Rewards Hub with access to contests, games, prizes and more! As well as being a business owner, mother, partner, touch football coach, and extreme sports enthusiast, Rhonda enjoys being a part of the local community and is passionate about empowering her patients with a beautiful smile. “Giving patients the gift of self- belief and confidence in their teeth and smile is the most rewarding and exciting part of my job,” she says.

Biggest inspiration My parents. Greatest obstacle or challenge Surviving a divorce. Proudest achievements Having a surprise 40th birthday baby. Making a difference in patient’s lives. Secret to success Never, ever, ever give up, and if it’s worth doing - do it well. Future ambition To complete an XPD adventure race before turning 50.

Austart Homes

Charmaine M a t t hews


harmaine Matthews is a shining example that through hard work and dedication, childhood dreams really can come true. From the age of ten she knew her future lay in the building industry, and to this day she emphasises the importance of never losing sight of your goals. Now as joint owner of Austart Homes, along with her husband Phill, she heads a company with an enviable reputation that is now one of seven franchises across the country. Charmaine’s career began on the Gold Coast where she took on a drafting cadetship with the business formerly known as Newstart Homes. “When I was only 21 years of age and studying, Phill, who was then my boss asked me: what do you want to be when you grow up?” she laughs. “I told him: own my own building company, which now I do in conjunction with him.” Since relocating to Cairns when the company expanded, she has become proficient in every aspect of the business. After the birth of their son in 2000, Charmaine’s decision to work behind the scenes was short-lived. “I started working in a display home with my little man Roy in a rocker – he came everywhere with me,” she laughs. In 2004, Charmaine and Phill franchised the company, rebranding it Austart Homes – and are now personally responsible for an area stretching from Mission Beach to The Daintree. They also manage a number of franchisees from Cairns to Northern NSW.

“Looking after the franchisees is a challenge, but I try to give them all the support they need.” An award-winning combination, Charmaine and Phill have been honoured with numerous accolades. In addition, Charmaine’s talent was recognised when she was named the HIA Business Partner of the Year (North

Queensland) in 2012, then a finalist in the National awards in 2013. “The HIA award was an achievement I was proud of, but my main goal is just to keep our customers happy and continue offering that personal touch,” she says. Efficiently run with a staff of only four, Austart Homes also has a long-term group of loyal subcontractors. “Some have been with us from the day we started,” Charmaine says. “We look after them and they look after us.” With three levels of building packages available (Fitzroy, Premier Plus and Sovereign) the company has also established a loyal customer base. “The majority of our customers are second or third home buyers,” she says. Despite being in a male dominated industry, Charmaine’s years of experience have earned her respect among her colleagues. “I started when I was 19 and I always knew it was going to be a challenge – but the industry is changing.” On target to build over forty homes this year, she is determined for Austart Homes to be recognised as one of Cairns’ successful builders. “It’s important to set yourself a goal and write it down – you need to go to work each day with a clear direction.”

Biggest inspiration Husband and business partner Phillip. Greatest obstacle Earning respect in a male dominated industry. Career highlights Winning “HIA Business Partner Of The Year in NQ” twice, and receiving a QBCC licence as a qualified Building Designer. Secret to success Never losing track of your goals and dreams, and having positive people around you. Future direction To sell more franchises across Australia, and inspire other young businesswomen in the building industry.


C-Me Swim/Just Kids

hayley W illiams


uggling family life with not one, but two successful businesses, Hayley Williams is living proof of the adage: if you want something done ask a busy person. As owner of C-Me Swim and Just Kids Early Education House, (together with husband Heath), she draws on her extensive educational background to offer children in her care the very best start in life. Established by Hayley’s parents in the 1980’s, C-Me Swim still operates from its original location in Russell Street Edge Hill. Run by her mother Marilyn in what was once their family home, the business was purchased by Hayley and Heath in 2003. “I had the opportunity to watch my mum in the pioneer days of backyard swim schools,” says Hayley. “For a very long time the business’s reputation was a direct reflection of the work she did.” Now Cairns’ leading and award-winning, boutique swim school, C-Me Swim is a founding member of Swim Australia and is proud to be teaching second and third generations of local families. In 2010, despite her already busy schedule, Hayley also took over the ownership of Just Kids Child Care Centre. “Our twin boys had just turned


twelve months old when the opportunity came up, so the timing wasn’t great,” she laughs. “But one of my first teaching positions was at Just Kids and I always joked with the owners that if they ever wanted to sell they should give me a call.” Under Hayley’s guidance, Just Kids, or Just Kids Early Education House as it’s now known, offers parents a premium early learning facility in the CBD. In 2013 it was ranked in the top 5% of centres in the country with outstanding results achieved against the National Quality Standards. “Once children get to school it’s too late,” she says.

“At Just Kids we are raising the bar in early education.” When it comes to keeping customers happy, Hayley says it’s important to offer a face-toface, caring and individualised service and never just assume to know what people want. “We also like to look for a point of difference – whether it be free WIFI, coffee facilities or the free apps we now offer

parents to access information about both centres,” she says. Between the two businesses, Hayley is responsible for a staff of 31, while still teaching three days a week at Just Kids. “I’m passionate about early education and think it’s vital to keep my feet on the ground,” she says. “It’s also important to recognise what I’m not good at and attract the right people around me who can offer those skills.”

Biggest inspiration Mother Marilyn Evans and sister Shelley Evans-Wild. Greatest obstacle/challenge Getting the work/life balance right (“still working on that one”) Career Highlights C-Me Swim: Developing a strong association with Swim Australia. Just Kids: Being ranked in top 5% of Australia last year. Secret to success Attracting like-minded people who believe in the vision. Future direction Taking both businesses from good to great.

LJ Hooker Cairns Yorkeys Knob

susan C o o p e r


usan Cooper had been in the real estate game for just three days when she made her first

sale. “Call it beginner’s luck, but I can still remember the experience well,” she says. “From that moment I decided if I was to continue in this business I would learn as much as I could and obtain my full real estate licence which I spent the next two years working on.” It was December 1993 when Susan started her real estate career as a salesperson with LJ Hooker Yorkeys Knob. Less than four years later she took over the business and became the official licensee. “At that time there was no rent roll, just myself and a receptionist,” she said. “The growth of the rent roll became my baby which today is over 220 properties with many owners still with us from the early days.” Susan recalls having an appreciation of land and property from a young age. But she pursued a nursing career as a midwife and assisted her husband Barry with his business before venturing into real estate. “When my children were settled in school, the time felt right to nurture my interest in real estate,” she said. “My dad built his first home where we lived on an acre only 15 miles from the centre of Sydney and close by my grandparents lived on a 14 acre poultry farm. Mum had grown up in the Eastern suburbs and we had family in that area which was a contrast from


our semi-rural surroundings. I read the property section of the newspaper even before I entered the industry and today still read the property sections of the national newspapers.” Susan and Barry celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary in July 2014 – a milestone that reminds Susan how she came to be in Cairns. “From the age of 15, my holidays and world travels focused around white powdery slopes and descending a mountain as fast as I could. But after three consecutive winters in the snow, it was time for a change,” she recalls. “I decided after a three-week sailing holiday in the Whitsundays that Cairns was the place to be for a winter working holiday. A short time after arriving on an American sailing yacht, I met Barry.” That winter working holiday never ended. And in the past 20 years Susan has made countless friendships with her clients and colleagues in Cairns.

“The people I meet and the friendships I have made are what I most enjoy about what I do,” she says. A lot has changed in that time. The internet has redefined real estate sales and Susan and her team have had to adapt and grow with the new technology.

“In the past 20 years I have experienced many changes, first and foremost would be the paperwork and legislative changes,” she says. “Listing forms were two pages, and are now 10. A contract was four pages, it can now be 25 or more. Technology, the internet, emails, they have definitely changed how we communicate with clients.” But while some things change, some things stay the same. “Cairns will continue to be one of the most liveable cities in the world and real estate here will continue to be sought out by our Asian neighbours looking for a stable and democratic environment in which to bring up their families,” Susan says.

Biggest inspiration Travel, new experiences, those who devote their time to better humanity Biggest challenge Work interfering with my golf handicap Career highlight LJ Hooker recognises 21 years of service in Sydney on Australia Day each year and I am looking forward to that in January 2015 Secret to success Smile, laugh often, have fun, show gratitude, be honest, reliable and persistent Future direction Stay positive, the best is yet to come!

Tokunai Hair

Krystle T


ombining creative flair with outstanding organisational skills, Krystle Tokunai is recognised as much for her cutting edge hair salon as she is for her contribution to up-market fashion events in the region. Since establishing Tokunai Hair in 2008, this experienced hairdresser and savvy businesswoman has made a strong name for herself in the local industry. Now, together with her team of talented and creative professionals, the Tokunai name is destined to make its mark around the country. After attending boarding school in Toowoomba and completing a hairdressing course in Brisbane, Krystle relocated to Cairns ten years ago. After deciding to leave the salon where she was working, she found herself at a crossroad in her career. “Starting the business was really just a spur of the moment decision,” she says. “At the time I had nowhere else to go, so my husband encouraged me to go out on my own,” she laughs. Now specialising in all areas of hair and makeup, Tokunai Hair is a Schwarzkopf Professional Salon that also offers clients a choice of Napoleon Perdis and Silk Mineral Cosmetics. Still operating from its original location at 304 Mulgrave Road, Tokunai Hair has established a loyal following from its diverse clientele. Committed to the culture of





creativity, their mission is to recognise and exceed their client’s expectations.

“There’s no real secret – we just love what we do so and have a lot of fun doing it,” Krystle says. And while the team enjoy attending to their day-to-day clients, she says the opportunity to become involved in the fashion industry has allowed them to take their talents to whole different level. “As creative people it’s really exciting to be involved in a fashion event where we have the freedom to go a bit crazy.” In addition to her involvement in a number of local fashion shows, Krystle also directed the 2013 Brisbane Mercedes Fashion Festival and has been invited to audition for the Sydney Fashion Festival this year. She also hopes to top the very successful 2013 Springsum Fashion Show, which she currently runs in partnership with Skrilled Magazine editor Chris Baker. “The opportunity to host Lara Bingle last year really helped put the spotlight on Cairns,” she says. And while nothing is yet confirmed for 2014, Krystle hints that a number of high profile celebrities have been approached.


While Krystle clearly enjoys her involvement in major events, as a salon owner she also loves attending to clients and training staff. “My biggest inspiration is my team,” she says, “I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them.” And while managing staff can have it’s challenges including “teaching a straight male the ability to multi-task”, Krystle is committed to providing a positive working environment and remaining hands-on in the business. “I’d be more than happy to grow within the one salon,” she says. “But if you get too big you can lose sight of what you originally started it for.”

Biggest inspiration Her staff. Greatest obstacle/challenge Adapting training techniques to suit different personalities. Career Highlight Hosting Lara Bingle at the 2013 Springsum Fashion Show, and directing the 2013 Brisbane Mercedes Fashion Festival. Secret to success Surrounding yourself with the right people and being passionate about what you do. Future direction To grow and develop within the one salon rather than multiply.


The Zanzoo Group

“I love a challenge, and running our company is certainly that,� she says.



Di Cola T

rudy Di Cola always knew she was destined for a career in sales, but she never imagined she would end up selling tiles. Now the co-owner of the Zanzoo Group, incorporating both Zanzoo Floors and Zanzoo Imports, Trudy can’t imagine her career any other way. Zanzoo Tiles was voted the Best Regional Tile Showroom by the Australian Tile Council just a few months after Trudy and husband Michael opened the doors in 2010. The business has now joined forces with Carpet Call for better buying power, and has access to all styles of wall and floor tiles, as well as stone, glass, mosaic, carpet, vinyl, timber and laminate. Zanzoo also specialises in the supply and installation of large format porcelain tiles, measuring up to three metres in length. Importing container loads of tiles from China, the pair discovered an opportunity to make better use of the available space by also couriering loads for other businesses - marking the beginning of Zanzoo Imports. Trudy says the journey has been hard going, but she is glad they pushed on. “We knew nothing about importing when we started,

bluffing our way through importing 14 containers of tiles.” The flooring business is the culmination of Trudy’s background in sales, and Michael’s existing tiling business. Trudy was operating as Zanzoo Sales Solutions, offering sales training and workshops for salespeople in Cairns when she first became involved in Michael’s business 10 years ago. “I helped his business grow to become Zanzoo Tiling Solutions, employing 10 tilers. When the financial crisis hit and times were tough, we dreamed about combining my sales skills with his tiling expertise. In 2010 we stopped dreaming, put everything on the line and took the gamble, opening Zanzoo Tiles in the middle of the worst economic times in Cairns. “We had never worked so hard and been so broke in all our lives.” Trudy believes large scale porcelain tiles will dominate flooring trends in Australia, as well as her business’ sales in the years to come. She says the tiles are becoming increasingly more affordable as a growing number of tradespeople become more familiar with the laying technique. “When porcelain tiles were first released they were expensive to

buy and even more expensive to lay. Now they are a highly sought after flooring, and porcelain tiling costs have reduced as tilers become more accustomed to laying them,” she says. “I predict that the large porcelain panels will see the same future. Once more tilers get the hang of laying porcelain panels, more people can enjoy a tiled area with very little grout joins to get dirty or mouldy.”

Biggest inspiration Women in the building industry like Jenny Cavallaro and Michelle Moseley Greatest obstacle or challenge Starting Zanzoo Tiles and importing containers. Cash-flow and timemanagement, as with any business Career highlight Being the Vice President of the Cairns Business Women’s Club for many years Secret to success Never ever give up and stay positive Future business direction Focus on getting Carpet Call off the ground and running. I am also planning another Zanzoo evolution, but that’s a few years off yet…..

Health Naturally

n y r e e

Banks N

yree Banks knew from a young age she wanted to be a naturopath. Family played an influential role on her career from childhood, teaching her about healthy eating and lifestyle options. “I knew being healthy was a lifestyle choice and I wanted to understand more about it,” she said. “The more knowledge I gained the more I wanted to educate others on how to live with optimal health and vitality.” Her quest took her to the Australian College of Natural Medicine, now Endeavour College, where she completed her studies in naturopathy. She spent her first years as a qualified naturopath in a pharmacy setting, gaining insight into mainstream medicine and ways to integrate naturopathy into peoples’ lives. With that solid grounding, she started her own business, Health Naturally, in 2007. Nyree specialises in treating allergies, intolerances, digestive disorders, women’s health issues, fertility, stress and adrenal fatigue. Her treatments can also benefit people suffering from headaches and skin conditions, even children’s behavioural problems and those wanting to lose weight.

“One of the things I love most about my job is the positive impact on people’s lives,” she said.

“Helping people have a better quality life is continually inspiring. I love seeing clients for their follow up consult and hearing how they can sleep all night, no longer living with terrible digestive system issues or they simply now have the energy to get through their day without collapsing at the end of it. “I enjoy that every day is different, every person is different and I never know what challenges my day will bring. I enjoy keeping things simple for people so that they can incorporate effective changes in their life to get them where they want to be.” Nyree grew up in Cairns before travelling overseas and later lived, worked and studied in Melbourne. But after five years away, she returned to the north for the relaxed lifestyle and to be closer to her family. Since starting her business in Cairns, Nyree has found the community becoming increasingly aware of good health, and naturopathy is no longer seen as a last resort. “The trend these days is to be healthy. My clients want to focus on food and nutrition rather than taking lots of supplements which I think is great. I get so many delicious healthy recipes from my clients. “People are visiting me as the first option for correcting their health complaints rather than coming to me after they have tried everything else. “I sincerely hope mainstream medicine and naturopathy merge to make a more integrative health system. I truly believe through nutrition, active living, nutritional supplements and a positive attitude, everyone can

live a healthy and happy life.” To arrange a consultation contact Nyree at nyree@ or call 4057 5566. Find out more at or or follow ‘healthnaturally’ on Instagram.

Biggest inspiration Seeing the joy, energy and increased quality of life in my clients is a constant inspiration and motivator. Greatest obstacle or challenge Starting my clinic from scratch seeing only a few people a week to being booked out almost every week. Career highlight There are so many individual client stories that are highlights from helping couples with fertility issues and meeting their babies for the first time to helping a severely non-verbal autistic boy speak a few words to his carer. Secret to success You need to possess integrity and a strong passion for what you do whilst providing a sincere and personalised service. You also need to be approachable and accessible to all. Future business direction I want to continue to build health naturally while maintaining a reputation for being a professional, dedicated naturopath who always gets results.


Amanda Gale Physiotherapy

Amanda g a l e


elping others has been a life-long passion for Amanda Gale. And it’s something she’s been doing for almost 30 years in her work as a physiotherapist. “I started off on my own when I was in my twenties with not much money and not much idea what I was getting myself into,” Amanda said. “I found myself getting busier so I went away for further study, and came back to start up a practice in small gym at what was then Festival Fair, now Raintrees. It wasn’t long before I was employing people, and it hasn’t stopped growing since.” For the past three years Amanda’s treatments have been complemented by the work of other therapists at the Amanda Gale Physiotherapy and Wellbeing Clinic on Anderson Street. Experienced Physiotherapists are the backbone of the team, supported by an impressive range of other modalities, massage therapists, Pilates, yoga, tai chi and meditation instructors, a naturopath and a range of visiting specialists. “As a Physiotherapist I have always strived to help people achieve their desired level of mobility and health. The missing element was vitality for so many of the people I was treating,” Amanda said. “Hitting me in the face was the fact that inflammation was hindering recovery and the


foods we put into our body also place pressure on inflammation levels. Therefore this drove me to find the right people to deliver the education and greater lifestyle options for my clients.” There was one problem. Once the client left the building, Amanda was no longer involved with their treatment plan or path to vitality. “Then came the light bulb, lets bring a team of allied health therapists that are all equally passionate about holistic health pathways under the one roof,” she said. “I think the community has really embraced the idea. We are exceptionally busy and introducing more modalities all the time.” Amanda has seen peoples’ attitudes toward their health change dramatically during her career. She says simply feeling ‘good’ is no longer good enough.

“People want to achieve optimal wellness, they want to feel amazing.” “We are always looking at new ways to help them do that.” In order to provide that evergrowing range of services and stay ahead of the industry,

Amanda undertakes ongoing study and upskilling. “My mum once said to me, ‘haven’t you learnt enough yet?’ “But learning is endless and this field is so exciting. There are so many clever people making huge discoveries every day. I’m always looking to learn more and bring that back to my patients.” Throughout her studies and early career, Amanda has travelled all over the world. But she’s always been eager to return home to Cairns. “I was six years old when I first arrived in Cairns and I still remember it so clearly and how beautiful it was,” she says. “I still find it incredibly beautiful and it has brought me a lot of joy. Cairns is my home.”

Biggest inspiration The human body. Greatest obstacle or challenge Also the human body. And only having two hands. Career highlight Obtaining my degree, post-grad degree and continuing education. Secret to success Never give up. Future direction More of what I’ve been doing.

Backstreet Dance

D Deborah



eb Storer has been many things. A caterer, airport car storage manager, life coach, aerobics instructor, cartoonist and dance teacher. She has learnt a lot, but most importantly, every chapter of her life has taught her something new about herself. And each of these life lessons has contributed to the woman she is today, and her career as a dance teacher and owner of the popular Cairns dance school, Backstreet Dance. “It’s a bit like going shopping for a jacket. You try another and another until you find just the right fit,” she says. “Experience is never a waste of time or money. Somewhere, somehow, you will use everything you learn. I’m no longer an aerobics instructor, but fitness is still a huge part of my life. And I may not be the best artist, but I used my cartooning skills to create the murals in the dance studio.” Regardless of what she is doing, Deb has always found motivation and satisfaction in making a difference to other peoples’ lives. As she speaks, her enthusiasm is infectious, her energy - electric.

“To be successful, your heart has to be in it, you have to love it and want to do it and be passionate about it, you can’t just be there for the money,” she says. “When I had the car storage business I would wash cars just to bring a smile to peoples’ faces and I was genuinely excited to talk to anyone who had an enquiry. People see that, feel that, even over the phone. It’s in the way you speak, the way you move, the way you write an email, everything you do is a reflection of you and who you are.” Deb ventured into the world of business at the age of 20, starting Deb’s Healthy Habits – a catering company distributing healthy lunches to city workers in Cairns. The airport car storage was her next project, before opening Moondust Productions – her first dance school. From her interest in personal development and self-improvement came a career in motivational speaking, and Deb worked as a life coach under the title of Deborah Storer International. But after almost four years of a demanding schedule as a public speaker, Deb felt a yearning to return to her love of dance. In 2009, Backstreet Dance was born.

The school’s fusion of fun and fitness in a welcoming and supporting environment for all ages has seen the enrolment grow to nearly 500 students. Backstreet Dance has a team of professional and experienced trainers teaching jazz, funk, hip hop and contemporary dance, while encouraging students to develop greater selfesteem and body image. “It’s not just about dancing. This is a place that teaches you to love yourself and to love life,” Deb says. “You realise can make a difference and you can bring about change if you change the way you think about what you do. “And it’s not just the students. If I have a conversation with a parent in the hallway and they seem a bit tired or flat, they usually comment on how perky I am and somehow it inspires them to look at their own situation a little differently. “I ran into a student I used to teach 10 years ago and they said ‘I don’t always remember everything you said, but the one thing I remember was the way you walked, confident, like you were on a mission. Whenever I

remember that, it helps me hold my own head up high.’ “That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning, it’s all about making a difference.” Deb’s school also provides students with oncein-a-lifetime opportunities, like dancing at Disneyland and on a cruise ship in the Bahamas as a group of 40 Backstreet dancers and their families did at the end of last year. The biennial international tour is complemented by a unique student teacher program, which allows the most passionate students to move up the ranks of the school to become qualified dance instructors. “I think everyone wants to find something they enjoy so much it doesn’t feel like work,” Deb says. “But to give meaning and purpose to what you do, to stay motivated, inspired and to be the best you can be, you need to be forever learning. “We all need to constantly feed our minds to stay vibrant, and the best way to learn is to be curious. If you wonder what something would be like, go find out. Be childlike, playful, creative and curious. And if you’re not happy, either move on, or change the way you think and feel. So many people hate their jobs, but they’re not willing to

do anything different or can’t leave. If you simply change the way you think, it changes everything. “That’s what I try to teach my students, while they’re so young. If we learn to love ourselves, the possibilities are endless.”

Biggest inspiration My husband, he supports me 100%. And Michael Jackson. Greatest obstacle or challenge Myself. If you can overcome yourself, anything is possible. Career highlight Making a difference in other peoples’ lives. Secret to success Self love. Future business direction Continue to make a difference and have fun doing it.




o’neill M

egan O’Neill never planned to follow in her father’s footsteps to become an accountant. But that is precisely what she did after completing a teaching degree and realising it wasn’t the career for her. “On finishing my degree in Brisbane I was posted to Cairns for my first teaching job – and while I didn’t enjoy teaching, I did fall in love with Cairns,” Megan said. “Eventually mum and dad decided to move to Cairns and in 1994 dad bought an accounting practice and asked if I would like to work for him. I jumped at the opportunity and I have been in the accounting game ever since, working for a number of other accounting firms along the way.” In 2008, Megan and her father Alan Campbell partnered once again to establish Cairns Quality Accounting. The business prides itself on being a boutique accounting firm, offering personalised service in accounting, taxation and audits for employees, soletraders, partnerships, companies, trusts and super funds. During the past five years, Megan has established herself as a leader in the industry, mentoring final year university students from the University of Southern Queensland, where she completed her own studies. She is a Fellow CPA (Certified Practising Accountant) and a member of the CPA Queensland Public Practice Committee. She has been on several CPA Taskforce committees and a presenter at CPA Public Practice Residential Schools. Megan also had the opportunity to tell the story of her career as guest presenter at a CPA awards night in Cairns. In addition to Megan, the Cairns Quality Accounting team includes a fellow senior accountant, office manager, parttime assistant accountant and several bookkeepers. “I want to keep our business small and manageable, because I feel that when a firm gets too big, clients and staff lose touch with each other and that friendly

smaller firm atmosphere is lost,” Megan said.

“It just makes everything so much more fun to go to work when you have a great team environment to work in.” A close-knit team and personalised service were among the goals Megan wished to achieve when she started Cairns Quality Accounting. “I had worked for a number of accounting firms around Cairns and the Northern Territory for over 15 years, but over time, felt I could create a more satisfying working environment that would benefit both my staff and clients. I felt the smaller business clients were missing out on the service they deserved. “It is so much more satisfying to be able to speak with the same people year after year and to build on a greater business relationship with those clients. I know they appreciate the attention.” Megan has grown her client base to more than 300 tax and accounting customers and 40 audit clients in just five years, and her role has changed considerably during that time. “Initially I did everything, answered the phone, made appointments, completed the tax, accounting and audit work, as well doing the day to day tasks such as placing stationery orders, filing and making my own cups of coffee,” she said. “Now at least I have a lovely staff member to make coffee for me, I miss that when they are not here. Having staff means I can focus more on running and developing my business. I can delegate tasks and concentrate on the aspects that I enjoy most, without being too consumed by the day-to-day running of the office.” Accounting has also seen many changes since Megan entered the industry in 1994. At the time, the Australian Taxation Office had an office in the Cairns Corporate Tower, and Megan recalls saving tax returns to ‘floppy disk’ and walking them to the office for processing.

“Now I can lodge tax returns without leaving my desk,” she said. “Research was a lot harder back then too, with only paper publications available. Now we can conduct research online and have access to electronic publications. The introduction of GST also brought about many changes, and accountants found themselves busy all year round rather than just at ‘tax time’. “The industry is always changing with new rules and regulations – which keeps it interesting,” Megan said. “And each successive government changes or tweaks the tax rules – so there is always something new to learn.” Something that hasn’t changed is Megan’s love of Cairns, which she has called home for the past 26 years. “I love the small town feeling of Cairns. I love the weather, the boiling hot summers where your shoes stick to the road, the pouring rain and cyclones. The beautiful mild winters are just the icing on the cake,” she said. “And I love that it only take me a few songs on the iPod to get to and from work.”

Biggest inspiration I get inspiration from lots of places - my family, staff, friends and colleagues who have also started their own businesses. Greatest obstacle or challenge To ensure I keep up to date with the ever changing business and technological developments. Career highlight Opening my own business and being the driver of my own destiny. Secret to success Customer service - return those phone calls and emails promptly – show that you care and believe in yourself and your abilities. Future direction Continue to expand the accounting and audit side of the business while retaining a friendly and supportive working environment in the office. And working on my business, not just in it.


Working Visions

Tracey Wilson


redicting the future is usually left up to fortune tellers and weather experts – but it’s all in a day’s work for Tracey Wilson. As owner and director of Working Visions, Tracey helps organisations and individuals foresee what may lie ahead, and plan and prepare for the possibilities. Providing community and stakeholder engagement, facilitation and communications, Working Visions’ client base ranges from local community groups to multi-national corporates and government organisations.

“We don’t limit the size of projects we involve ourselves in,” Tracey said. “Some of the most fulfilling work we’ve done has been with small groups of people who share a common vision. “We believe that building capacity starts with dialogue and planning. As community engagement practitioners we are often called in when an issue has become a crisis - usually where planning and first-level communication hasn’t occurred.” Tracey established Working Visions in 2001. She was living in the Gladstone region at the time, and seeking a better work-life balance following the birth of her daughter Miranda the year before. “After much research, which I love, I saw that the future of providing top notch service to my clients was to be agile and innovative. “I can say that Working Visions is both of those things, as well as providing excellent client service.”


The flexible nature of the business has allowed Tracey to take her work with her, living in Mission Beach for seven years before moving to Cairns in 2012. While she engages the assistance of consultants from all over Australia, Tracey’s work also provides plenty of opportunity for travel and forming ongoing working partnerships with a diverse range of clients and their staff. Working Visions are advisors to several organisations including Aegis Consulting Group based in Sydney, and sits on panels for Indigenous Business Australia and Ergon. Tracey is also a business partner for Zing which is a ‘wisdom age’ interactive, collaborative, portable meeting system that helps groups to work together in new and innovative ways. “We live in a world of rich professional and cultural diversity. I believe it will be those who approach their professional lives with a consistent, ever-developing creativity, and continue to invent better ways of doing things, who will flourish.” Tracey continually strives for greater personal and professional development, with a Masters of Sustainable Development, and qualifications in mentoring, workplace training, human resources and public participation. She is also completing a counselling degree, and involved in a number of boards, including the International Association of Public Participation, Yachting Queensland Board and IAP2’s Finance, Audit and Risk Committee. “When I started my Masters of Sustainable Development in 2002 people had no idea what it meant,

but by the time I completed it in 2007 it was almost a household term. “I will never forget, in 1998 I attended a conference where the American guest speaker related that internet and email would be the primary method of recruitment in 10 years’ time – people actually walked out of that conference - but look where we are today.”

Biggest inspiration My mother Fay for her bravery; Nelson Mandela for his wisdom, tolerance and leadership and my daughter Miranda for her ability to continuously amaze me. Greatest obstacle or challenge Short-termism in government policy. The 24hr media cycle. Tokenism community engagement. Our seeming inability to Close the Gap. Career highlight Working over a long period with retired General Peter Cosgrove on the Cyclone Larry recovery. Any time I run a Zing session – people love it! Secret to success Maintaining professional development. Product mix. Being highly skilled in service offerings. Revisiting my business plan. Innovation. Be kind. Smile. Future business direction I’m doing a counselling degree which I’ll integrate into the business over a longer term, targeting speciality streams reflecting my experience base.

Cape York Institute

Fiona J O S E F

iona Jose was raised in a loving family in a small community, where opportunities were limited and social problems rife. Now CEO of the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership, this inspiring woman of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage knows better than most what challenges Indigenous Australians still face to this day. Fiona says she always considered herself to be privileged. “I was often gutted by the tragedy of community members who passed too young, too often,” she says. “But, even as a child, I could see that my family was different to many others around me.” Watching her father go to work every day to provide for the family while her mother escorted the children to school, Fiona says there were “no excuses” when it came to education. “It wasn’t until I attended high school that I realised my upbringing in terms of education, housing and income had been at the lowest end compared to mainstream society.” Fiona’s career with The Institute kicked off in 2008 when she was identified as having potential talent as a Leader. “The Cape York Leaders Program empowered me through education, training and access to mentors like Noel Pearson,” she says. “This was instrumental in my development and growth both personally and professionally.” She then joined The Institute as Director of Leadership in 2011, moving rapidly to the role of CEO in 2012. “Anyone who occupies this position does so because of a passionate commitment to enhancing the lives of Aboriginal people and their communities – and I am no different,” she says. The Institute, an independent Indigenous think-tank, pioneers reform in Indigenous economic and social policy and supports the nurturing of current and future Cape York Leaders. “Although we focus on issues in Cape York, we also aim to have a national influence,” says Fiona. Inspired by the life of Rosa Parks, an American civil rights activist whose refusal to give up her bus seat to a white passenger catapulted her to national prominence, Fiona has personally felt the sting of discrimination. Now, one of her greatest passions is to push for equality in our Constitution, which still doesn’t acknowledge Australia’s Indigenous peoples.

“I think of Rosa Parks, I know we will get there, and I need to do my bit to speak up for change.” Biggest inspiration The people in our communities who aspire for change for themselves and their children inspire me. My elders, and those who have gone, walk this journey with me. The memories of how they fought hard to make life better for us keep me going on the tough days. They are here with me every day; they energise me. We are doing this work not only for those who are here now, but to honour those who went before us. Greatest obstacle OR challenge The hard things to do are the right things to do. One of the greatest challenges is time – wanting to get things done as quickly as possible, to help make peoples’ lives and futures better today, yesterday – immediately! But the work we are doing takes time – it can be multi-generational. Career Highlight Becoming the CEO of the Institute was a great honour. I was also immensely proud to be the first Indigenous person to hold the position - and the first woman. I couldn’t be more proud, and more committed to doing the very best I can in the role. It does come with great expectations, but fulfilling great expectations brings great rewards for those whom we serve – our people in Cape York communities. Secret to success Most definitely the people I work with. I couldn’t do what I do without the quality people at the Institute. Everyone who works at the Institute is committed to the cause, and invested in the work we do to help change lives. And of course we couldn’t do what we do without the support and inspirational courage of the people in communities. Future direction No matter what role I am in, there is one thing I know with certainty: this is my life’s work. This is personal for me; I am deeply committed to generational change for our people. The Institute is the right place at the right time for me to fulfill those goals. There is so much to do: who knows down the track where my commitments and goals might take me.



Margie M c K E NZ I E


hoose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. The famous quote couldn’t ring more true for Margie McKenzie, who has dedicated her life’s work to Queensland’s diving industry and the protection of the Great Barrier Reef. It was through this passion she found the other love of her life – Col McKenzie, her husband and co-director of Gempearl. But after more than 30 years in the industry they sold the last of their dive businesses in 2010 and travelled overseas with a view to retire. It didn’t last long. “Now that I’m no longer tied to an office or the same location, I‘m able to do more of what I want to do, what I really find interesting so I’m still very involved with the industry,” Margie said.

“I find it absolutely amazing that I’m able to combine my financial management background in an industry I love and have a passion for. I get paid to do what I love to do. It’s fantastic.” In 2013 Margie was appointed to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, while Col heads up the Association of


Marine Park Tourism Operators. Margie says her appointment to the board was an honour, enabling her to make a significant contribution to the marine industry and the protection of the reef. Together she and Col provide a consultancy service offering industry dive training, risk assessment and compliance advice to marine tourism operators in the Great Barrier Reef and throughout the Asia Pacific. They are also project managers of the highly-acclaimed Crown of Thorns starfish control program, which Margie says the Queensland Government considered to be the ‘most successful employment initiative in the state, if not all of Australia’. Based on a pilot project first trialled in 1999, the program now provides long-term unemployed youths aged 18 to 24 with six months training to become accredited dive instructors. For the duration of their training, they use these skills to dive to the ocean floor and inject a lethal solution into the coral-killing Crown of Thorns starfish. Margie says a total of 105 young people have completed the program since it commenced in its current form in 2010, and have all since been employed within the marine tourism industry. “To be honest, at first we thought trying to train young kids to do something this risky would be a nightmare, but what we soon

found was the discipline and training it took to be good at the job was turning these kids around,” Margie said. “You see them developing self-esteem and a passion for life. They have a sense of achievement because they are working for the environment and doing it in one of the most beautiful settings on the planet – our wonderful Great Barrier Reef. Being a part of that has been one of the most rewarding experiences for myself and Col.”

Biggest inspiration Col McKenzie – he’s the one with inspiration and ideas, works out which pieces go where, and I’m the one who glues it together. We make a good team. Greatest obstacle or challenge My passion is small business however it is very difficult to be successful in small business. Despite the challenges I love it, and this makes it all worthwhile. Career highlight Definitely being appointed to the Marine Park Authority board – that’s when it all came together for me. Secret to success Never give up, there’s always a way. Work out what you want to do, and do it. Future direction I have a few plans up my sleeve but above all I want to continue being involved with the protection of the reef and doing more of what I love.



s a mental health dietitian, Rebecca McKenna specialises in helping people turn negative situations into positive outcomes. Perhaps the most inspiring example of her work was proving her own doubters wrong. Rebecca was a musician working in radio in New South Wales when she overheard someone make a rude remark about her intelligence. That night she took the first steps to completing a Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetics, and hasn’t looked back. Today Rebecca is the co-owner of Cairns business Health Management and she’s completing a graduating diploma in counselling. “I guess I can thank the person who had no confidence in me and pushed me to take the plunge,” she said. Rebecca and her husband moved to Cairns from Newcastle in late 2011. She took up a position as mental health dietitian at Health Management, working for founding owner Tara Diversi. Just 12 months later, she and fellow dietitian Mitch Smith took over the business. Rebecca continues to see clients on a daily basis, as well as juggling the management role. “I still enjoy working in the area of mental health, but also have a passion for working with those undertaking bariatric weight loss surgery and people who suffer from bowel problems, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome,” she said. “I love being able to meet new people five days a week. You get to hear some great stories and take a journey with people who are wanting to make some


really positive changes. It is wonderful when you get to see people reach their goals and become comfortable and confident with themselves and their eating. I also get to talk about food nine hours a day which has its ups and downs, but deep down I know I love it.” Rebecca admits to being a fussy eater as a child. “Hot chips, peas, carrot, chicken and vegemite sandwiches was about as exciting as it got.” But in time she discovered her love for most foods, and realised she wanted to combine that passion with teaching.

“I knew a few people when I was growing up who had a big struggle with food and I thought ‘this is something I could know a lot more about’. “My husband was also very supportive of me going back to university at the age of 24 to start a new career. He put up with my grumpiness when I was studying and working full-time. My family has also been fantastic in coming to visit me in Cairns and not being too upset that I have moved 2500km away.” Rebecca says anyone can benefit from the range of services on offer at Health Management. Treatments are available for people

wanting to lose weight, gain weight, ensure nutritional adequacy or manage diabetes, high cholesterol, IBS, allergies or intolerances. “If someone walks back through my door and says I don’t know if I have lost weight, but I feel fantastic’ that is a great result. There is too much emphasis these days around numbers and perfection. If I can move people away from fad diets and guilt, then I consider it a win.”

Biggest inspiration Anyone who is told they cannot do something and then gets out there and does it. Greatest obstacle or challenge Being confident in my own ability. There is always a level of self-doubt that needs to be overcome. Career highlight Having the chance to own a fabulous business and work with great people. Secret to success Persistence, taking chances and as always a little bit of luck. Future business direction Adding more community work to our portfolio and making the most of available grants and funding opportunities to improve the health of the FNQ region through good old healthy eating and exercise.

Peppermint Lane Photography




f a picture says a thousand words, then Stephanie Palmer is most certainly in the business of storytelling. As owner of Peppermint Lane Photography she has the unique privilege of documenting and celebrating the most intimate and significant moments in her client’s lives. Treating each assignment as a new adventure, her fascination with people and their stories is more than just a business, it’s a way of life. Originally from England, Steph’s love affair with photography ignited while travelling through outback Australia. “I began documenting my family adventures and the people we met whilst living in the communities,” she says. “I fell in love with capturing faces and emotion in its rawest form.” After settling in Cairns in 2011, she finally made the decision to pursue her passion by setting up her own photography business. “Peppermint Lane was the name of a dream retro lolly shop I always wanted to own – possibly to consume sweets all day,” she laughs, “But the name itself seemed to fit my vibrant, quirky style – so I used it.” Specialising in wedding and


lifestyle photography, Steph is also a regular monthly contributor to CairnsLife magazine.

“Faces fascinate me and I have always been rather curious of people and emotions,” she says. “I’m also hugely inspired by music so you can imagine my delight at weddings when these two inspirations of mine meet.” Steph’s friendly approach and genuine love for her craft, allows her to capture her clients most candid moments – as well as her own. “I find inspiration everyday, especially in my darling son Bailey,” she says. “I’m lucky to have a super supportive family, especially my partner Jason who has been my number one fan and encouraged me to dive head first into my matter how terrifying that might be.” Despite 2013 being a year of many highlights for Peppermint Lane

Photography, Steph says the feeling of making people “cry happy tears” when they re-live their special day will never get old. “I love being invited into people’s lives to capture their most precious moments, and I also like surrounding myself with love, happiness and cake,” she laughs. “But even though I plan to continue being a part of the wonderful world of weddings for a long time yet, there are many other exciting things in store for Peppermint Lane.”

Biggest inspiration People and their stories. Greatest obstacle/ challenge My lack of self-confidence. Career Highlight Capturing people’s most precious moments. Secret to success A sheer passion and love for what I do, and the inspiring people I meet. Future direction Continue being part of the wonderful world of weddings, while exploring other avenues.

Civil Celebrant

Na t asha

Kollosche N

atasha Kollosche has officiated more than 800 wedding ceremonies in some of the most picturesque locations on the planet. Among her clients have been a few famous faces, including NRL player Cameron Smith, and television identity Kerri-Anne Kennerley. But for Natasha, it’s the simplest of moments that really stand out. “I married a couple in their 80s, and the wedding wasn’t about the dress or flowers or food or how much money was spent, it was simply about the two of them and their love for each other. It’s moments like those that mean the most to me.” And then there’s the time an uninvited guest stole the show. “We had over 100 guests on the Port Douglas Sugar Wharf, and just as the ceremony started, the town cat Sandy slowly sauntered up the white carpet aisle, climbed up on the stage and sat on the back of the bride’s dress,” she laughs. But Natasha says there’s never any wedding day disasters like you see in the movies. “We put in a high degree of planning and go to extraordinary lengths to make sure there are no disasters. The worst thing that’s happened was the ring being temporarily lost down a crack in a deck,” she says. “But the groom’s brother stripped off his shirt and crawled under the house, emerging minutes later holding the ring proudly above his head so the disaster was turned into a funny part of the ceremony.” “Perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of the job is keeping the bride and bridegroom calm, especially when so much pressure is being projected onto them from family and friends. That’s when my cool, calm exterior and expertise is needed most.” Originally from Melbourne, Natasha’s marine biology studies brought her to Port Douglas in 1993 and she began

working on the reef. After stints working for the Sydney Olympics and heading up Port Douglas and Daintree Tourism, nine years ago she began looking for more flexibility and found that a career as a civil celebrant was the perfect fit. “The timing was right, the opportunity was there and I knew with my combined experience in tourism, marketing, event planning and public speaking that I had the right attributes for the role. I feel so blessed to have found a career I truly love.” But Natasha stresses it is not a job for everyone.

“There are so many rewarding aspects to being a Celebrant but the hours can be long and remaining clearheaded and patient under pressure is a must,” she says. “You are part legal advisor, part writer, part comic and presenter and part counsellor so it is a job where being good at multi-tasking is key. And of course you can say goodbye to weekends, and there is no such thing as a sick day when you are a wedding celebrant.” Having been married for six years herself, Natasha admits her work puts a different perspective on her own marriage. “It can be quite a challenge, being constantly surrounded by people who are really loved up. It puts you on heightened alert and you do reflect on your own marriage. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing and I think it has made my marriage better as a consequence.” Despite marrying more than 800 couples, and returning to some of the same

wedding locations many times over, Natasha says her work never gets old. “I meet so many new people including family and friends and every couple has their own story,” she says. “Around 90 per cent of the couples I marry live more than 500km from Port Douglas, so getting to know someone without meeting them face to face is both challenging and very interesting. “I’m always amazed and grateful for the trust people put in me, they often share with me the most intimate things about themselves without even meeting me. It’s a big responsibility and quite inspiring.” To help keep her motivated, Natasha keeps photographs and thank you cards from many of her weddings on a wall in her office. “It’s a nice feeling to look up and see all those smiling faces and reflect on the journey I’ve travelled with 800 weddings, and counting.”

Biggest inspiration I love what I do, so sending a couple down the aisle as husband and wife is incredibly inspirational. Greatest obstacle or challenge The wet season Career highlight Being ask to officiate for Kerri-Anne Kennerley and Cameron Smith, and winning Douglas Business awards “Best Wedding Celebrant” in 2011 and 2013. Secret to success Smile a lot, listen to the couple, deliver what they want and don’t sweat the small stuff. Future direction Keep being the best celebrant I can possibly be.


Elders Cairns

denise M i tc h e l l


fter 26 years in the industry, Denise Mitchell is preparing for a whole new era in real estate. Clients want the convenience of a one-stopshop, and Elders Real Estate Cairns has delivered. As principal partner, Denise has built a holistic service, providing real estate sales, rental and body corporate management and coming soon - Elders Home Loans. Elders Real Estate Cairns office is conveniently located at 124 Anderson Street. Those in real estate know, it’s all about location. And the office takes advantage of the prime position of a main arterial road in and out of Cairns. This is complemented by a new office recently opened in Cairns City. “Our new office is situated in the heart of the city hub at the entrance to Virginia House on Abbott Street,” Denise said. “This second office is located to cater to the needs of city residents and investors while providing a showcase for projects to our visitors both locally and internationally.” In recent years, Elders Cairns has welcomed some of the biggest names in Far North Queensland real estate. Denise is confident that expertise will see Elders Cairns grow from strength to strength in the changing market. And the business is no stranger to change. Denise purchased Elders Real Estate Cairns from Elders Corporate Office in January 2011, incorporating the name and 150-year history into her existing business Incity Real Estate, and prior to that, Raine and Horne Cairns. She said it was one of the most exciting developments of her career, which began in 1988.


“Since then I have had many roles within the real estate industry. Salesperson, sales manager, agency licensee, industry trainer and now agency principal,” she said. “When you are a real estate salesperson you are only responsible to your clients, your principal and to yourself. Today I am responsible for more than 20 staff. We have a wonderful team at Elders Real Estate Cairns and our aim is to provide a caring environment plus ongoing support from the management team.” Denise first arrived in Cairns in 1977 when she and her husband Bruce were transferred. They returned in 1983 with their children Kate and Scott who completed their schooling in the city and continue to live in Cairns. By this time, Denise knew real estate was the career for her. When she finally decided the time was right, she worked and saved for six months to prepare for the potentially lean times ahead.

“It is best for people to plan to go into real estate, have some capital built up so that lack of funds is not the reason for leaving the industry just when you are ready to kick some of your goals,” she said.

“I love what I do. The people you come in contact with on a daily basis make every day different, so you can never get bored. There is no limit to what you can earn or what you can achieve in this industry. It’s entirely up to you what you are prepared to ‘pay’ in the way of effort, commitment and desire to achieve these goals.”

Biggest inspiration Family and friends who faced challenges but achieved more than most anyway– just go out and do it! Greatest obstacle or challenge Making time for the important things in life. Career highlight When all my immediate family joined the business and brought with them their individual strengths and ideas to build an even stronger and more successful business. Secret to success Keep learning, keep doing and don’t be afraid to change the way you do business. Future business direction Understand what our existing clients will be wanting in the future and endeavor to provide that service today.

Cairns Aluminium Services





s c u d e r i


hey say necessity is the mother of invention – and that’s certainly been the case in the career of Wendy Scuderi. With a background in childcare, Wendy considered running a coffee shop or a takeaway store before going into aluminium manufacturing and curtain making with her husband Ross. She also creates hand-made cards and embroidery, and is a qualified Reiki therapist. Each of her crafts has come about out of necessity, and Wendy has proven time and time again, where there’s a will, there’s a way. After surviving the difficult years of the Global Financial Crisis and building industry downturn, Wendy and Ross are enjoying better days. They are hopeful 2014 will be their busiest year since becoming the owners of Cairns Aluminium Services in 2003. “We hit an all-time low when the GFC hit, then the building industry took a few hard hits and our sales really plummeted,” she said. “We had to lay off our employee, so Ross was doing everything from quoting to making and installing. I went back to daycare to provide a steady income and started selling home-made cards and doing embroidery.” While other businesses closed their doors, Wendy and Ross looked for new ways to diversify their business. Their family also helped out, with their daughter taking over the office and their sons lending a hand on days off. “We also downsized our workshop,


partitioned off sheds and rented out the space to generate another source of income,” Wendy said. “When things picked up again I came back. I still sell my cards and towels in the showroom and I offer Reiki consultations from home.

“I see myself as a very adaptable person who is willing to give anything a go, and I now have a few career options to choose from. All this came out of the GFC, so although it has been hard, some positives have come from it too.” Cairns Aluminium Services manufactures security screens, stainless steel screens, flyscreens and a wide range of awnings and louvre products, as well as internal and external blinds and other window furnishings. The business is also expanding into small patio systems. As the business continues to grow, Wendy hopes to employ more staff and enjoy more quality time with her family. But she admits she enjoys her work, and is proud to have seen it through the hard times.


“The most enjoyable part of my job is talking to customers,” she said. “We have a policy of always giving the best service we can, getting back to the client, getting to quotes on time, and finding out information if I don’t know an answer. When I hear how much people appreciate our service, it makes everything worthwhile.”

Biggest inspiration Eckhart Tolle, as I am a firm believer in living in the now and not letting your past cloud the present. Greatest challenge The GFC. People were too scared to spend money, so we had to lay off our employee. Around 2010 was the worst, we have built ourselves up again from that. Career Highlight Around late 2011, after all the worry over the effects of GFC and the building industry decline, when I realised we had survived and were on our way up again. Secret to Success Great customer service at all times, and supportive family. Future direction I see us using lots of new products to make the business a more comprehensive home improvement business. And having a few more employees to take on some of our workload.

Staffing Solutions


ranca F o rde


fter managing 36 hotels in the space of 26 years, Franca Forde decided to retire – but it didn’t last long. Just two weeks later she applied for a part-time job cleaning motel rooms, only to be told she was over qualified. Those words motivated Franca to declare her retirement was over, and start her own hospitality recruitment agency. The business celebrates 25 years in operation this April – and after several name changes has been branded Staffing Solutions North Queensland for the past two. Franca started the company from her kitchen table, and now employs approximately 20 staff across offices located in Cairns, Port Douglas, Townsville and Brisbane. After nearly three decades immersed in hospitality, Franca and her husband Brian are respected figures in the industry and know how to find the most reliable and skilled staff. They have worked together as trouble shooters, with their two children in tow, being called in to work at dozens of hotels in need of their expertise in management and customer service across Australia. “We lived and worked all over Australia, that was us,” Franca recalls. “We’d get the call to pack our bags and we’d be off - Melbourne, Sydney, Gold Coast, Brisbane, we never knew when or where we were going next. “I remember one day in Sydney we got the phone call at 4pm on a Friday and had to pack up and get to the Gold Coast. We didn’t even have

time to pick up the kids’ books from school.” The Fordes were posted to Cairns in 1979 to manage Hides Hotel, at the time, the only five-star hotel in Cairns. They worked at Hides for just over six years before being sent south. The Forde family returned to Cairns in 1989, but soon after received a call saying it was time to go. “The kids turned around and said ‘you move, we’re staying’, and I said the same thing to Brian. So we stayed and I thought I would retire, but there’s only so many times you can move the furniture.” Running an employment agency in Far North Queensland is no easy feat. The region has had the highest unemployment rate in Australia for several years, and Franca is often faced with the predicament of having staff and no jobs, or jobs and no staff. But she insists work is available in Cairns, if people are willing to work. “The last four years in particular have been very difficult for all businesses in Cairns, big and small, whether they’re in hospitality or not,” she said. “I’ve been here long enough to see the good times come and go, usually seven years of good and seven years of bad. You have to believe in what you’re doing and stick to it, you can’t throw in the towel.” When Franca started The Black and White Brigade in 1989, it was one of only three employment agencies in Cairns. Since then, she has seen many rivals come and go, but she believes her commitment to customer service has been the key to survival.

“You have to give great customer service and be honest, that’s it, there is no secret,” she said. “Lots of other agencies come in and undercut us but it’s not about that. Many years ago one particular GM said to me, with his finger in my face, he was not interested in service, all he was interested in was the bottom line. We can’t take on that attitude in Cairns. We’ve got everything going for us, the service in our hotels is on par with the best in the world. I really hope more people realise the power of good old-fashioned service.”

Biggest inspiration People. Greatest obstacle or challenge The higher the mountain, the better the view. Career highlight My business and time in Cairns. Secret to success More than anything, my family. Future business direction Keep giving great, old-fashioned customer service the industry in Cairns needs and deserves.


Fifo Capital

L i n da Soblusky “Over the years, my passion for this business has grown as I increasingly see the potential it can provide the clients that use our services.”


n an economy so reliant on tourism, being able to maintain sufficient, consistent cash flow is a major challenge for many businesses in Cairns. Unpaid accounts are to blame for many small businesses closing their doors, and in her work as a bookkeeper, Linda Soblusky has seen the devastating consequences of this first hand. In 2009, the problem prompted Linda to expand her business, Zali Holdings, to become the North Queensland branch of the Fifo Capital franchise group - enabling her to provide local businesses with cash flow finance. “I have always enjoyed managing money and running businesses and I have learnt the importance of injecting fresh capital into businesses so they can grow to their full potential,” she said. Fifo Capital offers a professional and client-friendly product to business clients, operating exclusively with business-tobusiness transactions. There are times when traditional financial institutions and lending facilities are unable to assist clients with working capital finance requests. In these instances, Fifo Capital is a viable alternative. “The benefits of using cash flow finance are numerous, not least of which is the immediate injection of cash into a business which can be used for business growth, resource purchases and the payment of staff,” Linda said. “As we are not governed by a bank or financial institution, our service is designed to allow immediate funding decisions, making the


provision of funding easy, simple and fast. Fifo Capital’s customers have access to immediate cash flow solutions which they can use to focus on the operation and growth of their businesses.” With previous experience in senior private sector roles and as a business owner herself, Linda has developed a wealth of knowledge about business and financial management. Her business acumen has been recognised with multiple awards, including Business of the Year and Outstanding Achievement Awards. Linda was born and raised in Tully before moving to Cairns at the age of 15. It was there she met her husband and the couple now has two teenage sons. Her role as a franchisee has provided her with flexibility to work from home and take care of her young family. The job has also allowed her to travel throughout Australia and New Zealand to gain further insights into the industry and provide her clients throughout North Queensland the best possible service. “My husband and I have always worked closely in managing our businesses which has ensured our success,” she said. “Not to say I haven’t had many hurdles to defeat over the years, although I have learnt to always look for the positives in every situation and use that to my benefit. Sometimes even the negative situations can be turned into a positive.”

The simple three step Fifo Capital process: 1. The debtor is invoiced and invoice is sold to Fifo Capital 2. Within 24 to 48 hours, the client is paid up to 75% of the invoice value 3. When the debtor pays the invoice to Fifo Capital, the client is paid the remainder of the balance, less fees

Biggest inspiration My husband Greatest obstacle or challenge Over the years our family has faced many health scares, starting with my husband in 2002 and nearly losing my son who was 11 at the time in 2010. Learning how to juggle home and work life during these times, as well as coming to terms with how close I came to losing my son, has been my greatest challenge. Career highlight Being awarded Business of the Year in 2011. Secret to success I don’t think there is a secret, just hard work and taking calculated risks! Having positive support networks helps. Future business direction I intend to travel more to increase business in southern and western parts of North Queensland and to double my current client numbers by the end of 2014.


“But even with all the technology and innovation, still the greatest thing I’ve seen is the smile on the faces of the people we helped to hear again.” 60

JMoanna agee T

hree generations of the one family have dedicated their life’s work to enriching the lives of those living with hearing impairment. Following in the footsteps of her father Sidney Bacon, Joanna Magee entered the field of hearing healthcare as a student, working in her father’s practice on the weekend while studying. Joanna is now joined by her husband John, their daughter Kerry and son Aaron as the owner-operators of AUDiOHEALTH, a leading audiology practice with offices in Cairns and Sydney. “I started work in the early 80s at my father’s practice in Sydney, but he had to persuade me. I was the eldest child and a wee bit of a trailblazer and rebel. I didn’t see myself dispensing hearing aids.” It wasn’t long before Joanna realised the powerful impact her father’s work had on the lives of hundreds of patients. “I could see it was a vocation of passion more than a job. And it’s been that way for my father, myself and now my children.” It was in the 1980s Joanna’s father introduced the first miniature hearing aid to Australia, teaming up with newsreader Ross Symonds to unveil the ‘Invisi’ hearing instrument on national television. “It was a very innovative idea at the time, using television to raise awareness of a health product like that hadn’t been done before,” Joanna said. Over the next 25 years the family business ‘evolved and exploded’, to become the

largest privately owned group of hearing aid clinics in New South Wales. In 1997 Joanna and John embarked on their own practice and echoing her father’s pioneering ways, Joanna and her husband set about dispensing the latest innovative products. They brought the first video otoscope to Australia, enabling patients to see inside their own ear canal and images to be sent to their doctors. In 2004, the family founded the Better Hearing Foundation, a non-profit organisation to raise awareness of hearing loss and the available solutions, which has provided hundreds of people in third world countries with free hearing assistance. The Foundation was launched by Mr Roger Climpson OAM and supported by Professor William Gibson, Dr Phillip Chang and Doctor James Wright. After more than two decades in the industry, Joanna and John made the move north to Cairns with the view to retire. But their plans were curtailed when they realised the need for quality hearing services. With the help of daughter Kerry, they established the state of the art hearing centre AUDiOHEALTH on Grafton Street in 2008. In 2013, the family re-entered the Sydney market under the management of son Aaron. Joanna said she couldn’t imagine a more exciting, rewarding or satisfying career. “We receive so many letters of thanks from people whose lives have been completely changed by the ability to hear,” she said. “Our profession is always

changing, more than any other I know. When I started, hearing aids were so big and archaic people didn’t want to know about them, but all that has changed. Now they are so tiny and discreet that they literally disappear into the ear canal and yet they are packed full of technology.

Biggest inspiration My father is my greatest inspiration and mentor, having built the largest private practice of hearing healthcare clinics in NSW but my tenacious, optimistic and darling 96 year-old Irish Grandmother takes the gong. She is the heart and spirit of her numerous offspring and her lust for life inspires me. Greatest challenge Getting the message across to those with hearing loss that there is immediate help in the form of products and service to change and enrich their lives. Career highlight Devising and launching The Better Hearing Foundation in 2004 with the objective of raising awareness of hearing loss solutions. Secret to success Passion, traditional values, personal service and the latest products. Future direction Innovation. Continuing to bring the latest products and solutions to improve hearing to the lives of many.


Aussie Interact

R ees

s u s a n


usan Rees is one of the first people to greet hundreds of new arrivals to the Cairns region each year. Every day she meets people from all over the world and is constantly inspired by their travels and tales of adventure. Her business Aussie Interact assists international visitors with travel plans and arranges itineraries for study tours, as well as placing international students into homestay.

“I thoroughly enjoy meeting people from all walks of life, all with vastly different backgrounds and cultures,” Susan said. “I love this inspiring country that we get to call home and I am so immensely proud of our unique continent and love to show it off and share our culture, both old and new while adding to our visitors’ global experience.” Established in 2007, Aussie Interact is the latest chapter in Susan’s travel industry career - which began many years earlier at Brisbane’s Parkroyal Hotel. Igniting her love of people and travel, Susan then bought a car rental company which she expanded across Australia’s East Coast, opening a Cairns branch in 1980. She moved to Cairns three years later when her husband was transferred to lead Far North Queensland’s Crocodile Management Program, and instantly fell in love with the lifestyle and climate. In 1997, Susan started Australian International Connections - which Ausssie Interact was devised from 10 years later. Her tourism work involves training and contracting guides to inbound tourism operators, as well as aiding cruise ship passengers, managing shore excursions and taking overland groups around Australia. Susan has also attended Chinese trade delegations along with the past two Cairns Mayors, including the inaugural mission to China in 2003, representing both her own company and Study Cairns in her previous role as president. She has studied Mandarin and Chinese culture at Shanghai Secondary Polytechnic University and achieved their place in a Mandarin speaking competition. Susan’s introduction to international


education and training cane while working at Cairns State High School, assisting to establish the program. She then worked on contract with an English language school, placing their international students and study tour students into homestay as well as assisting with student services. “When the GFC took its toll on the numbers of students arriving into Cairns, the college and I mutually agreed they would place their own students into homestay. So I moved my business to a home base in 2009.” That move allowed Susan to further grow and expand Aussie Interact into the business it is today. Like the travel and international education industries themselves, it is always changing. In the past 15 years Susan has seen dramatic growth in the Australian cruise industry and a significant rise in the number of international cruise ships visiting Australia during the summer months, while waters in the Northern Hemisphere are frozen. “I have been training tour guides since 1985 and I have seen the professionalism, enthusiasm and integrity grow and develop, and I am proud to be a part of that.” International education and training is now the third export earner in Australia, and has increased export dollars in the Cairns region to more than $150 million. “The Cairns region is becoming the lead destination in the Tropical Zone for International Students and an increased number of cruise ships are visiting our ports each year,” she said.

Greatest inspiration My parents who instilled in me a belief that I can do and become whatever I want .. I am the one in charge and will only be limited by myself. Greatest challenge The Global Financial Crisis and increased value of the dollar. Career highlight Establishing my own business and having a proven track record. Secret to success I love what I do and work hard and pay attention to due diligence and detail. Future direction To continue doing what I am doing as well as leading groups outbound from Australia.

Flight Centre

merc ede s G o n z ale z


any industries have been transformed by modern technology. Perhaps few more so than the travel business. Holiday makers can now be at exotic destinations on the other side of the globe with just the click of a button. But not everything is at is seems when it comes to the internet. And blind-booking hotel rooms and flights through untrusted sources can leave you out of pocket, and without a holiday. That’s precisely what Mercedes Gonzalez helps her clients avoid, as the manager/share holder of Flight Centre Centre Stage. With 25 years’ industry experience, Mercedes knows the most reliable operators in the best holiday destinations around the world, and how to find the best deals to get you there. This knowledge is backed by the trusted brand and buying power of Flight Centre, providing access to wholesale flights and a 24-7 assistance line for clients’ peace of mind. “I believe a travel agent is a viable source and provides security and peace of mind with your booking,” Mercedes says. “If any world crises or acts of God impact your holiday plans, you can pick up the phone at any time and speak to a real person to get assistance.” The evolution of real-time online bookings has provided greater consumer choice, which Mercedes says has allowed people to personalise their holidays with greater detail than ever before. “When I first started at the age of 18, the industry was very different. “There were no computers, no discounting, no real time bookings and certainly no specifying your aircraft, seat number and a vegan meal for your flight.” Mercedes has seen the industry evolve for the better, but she has also seen some of the lowest of lows – the Ansett collapse and September 11 hijackings to name just a few. Since then, the industry has recovered dramatically and Mercedes is confident of an exciting future in travel.

“We no longer just sell flights. We sell dreams. As cliché as that might sound, it’s true. “Some people save their whole lives for just one holiday. Others travel every year. No two holidays are ever the same, but everyone has an ideal holiday, and it’s our job to make that happen. “More people travel than ever before and they have so much choice now. The internet and social media has really increased access to travel and helped people turn hopes of that once in a lifetime holiday into reality.” Mercedes says travel trends are also changing. “We’re seeing more of a swing towards cruise holidays. People love the convenience of being able to see five or six countries without needing to pack and unpack over and over. Everything is included and they don’t have to worry about booking hotels or trains or car hire. It’s fantastic for families too because there’s so much included for children. More and more families are holidaying this way.”

Biggest inspiration My parents. Greatest obstacles or challenge Ever changing technology. It’s been a challenge but also made life easier. Career highlight Every day is still a highlight. I still love what I do. Secret to success You get employed because you meet expectations, you get promoted if you excel them. You can do anything you set your mind too. Future direction Looking forward to exciting times with Flight Centre.


Face Today Mediclinic

Nicole b e l l e


ne look at Nicole Belle and the benefits of anti-aging treatments are plain to see. As founder of Face Today Mediclinic she is a walking advertisement for the industry, which makes it surprising to learn that this beautiful, vibrant 57-year-old woman was once a lonely, insecure teen. Now driven to help others, Nicole and her caring, professional team are just as focused on “tweaking” the outside, as they are on nurturing the inside. Describing herself as the classic “ugly duckling”, Nicole’s adolescent years were challenging to say the least. “I was an asthmatic, with glasses, acne and a big nose,” she says. “I also came from an unstable home-life, which lead to unwise relationships later in life.” It was only after saving for her first nose job at the age of 20, and following her mother Myra’s footsteps into a nursing career, that she finally developed confidence within herself. Then when she later branched into the anti-aging arena, she ultimately discovered her true calling. “My passion in life is to help people feel comfortable in their own body.” After successfully launching Face Today in Sydney eight years ago, Nicole opened a second clinic a year later to service Cairns and the surrounding region. “I love my home town, so I wanted to bring the same technology that people in the cities enjoy to the people of Cairns,” she says. A family business that includes sisters Kerie and Fran, Face Today offers the very latest advancements in the industry, while providing a nurturing environment to people from all walks of life. “We have a large male clientele and treat people of all ages and skin types,” Nicole says. “We’re also passionate about helping patients who’ve suffered trauma-related injuries.” Now an expert in the industry, Nicole trains doctors and nurses around Australia and overseas, and was recently invited to attend the world symposium to discuss Platelet Rich Plasma (a revolutionary procedure utilising a patient’s own DNA to grow collagen). “We have created what’s known a “the slow facelift “ which is a combination of procedures and nutrition to help you grow younger”, she says.

Also heavily emphasising that health and beauty come from within, the clinic offers the full range of Isagenix products (a world renowned nutritional system). Always looking for ways to raise the bar, Nicole pursued a partnership with businesswoman Helen Koi six years ago. Together they have taken the business in a new direction based on internal and external nutrition. After recently sponsoring the highly successful Cairns Community Health and Wellness Challenge, they hope to continue exploring new ways to promote health and wellness amongst the local community. “The response to the challenge was phenomenal and extremely effective in educating people,” Nicole says.

“Anti-aging is not just for the movie stars or the vain, it’s about taking care of the vehicle God gave us and allowing us to Face Today with new confidence.” Biggest inspiration My family and my patients. Greatest obstacle Overcoming my own insecurities. Proudest achievement Helping others find confidence in themselves. Secret to success Treating the patient inside and out. Future ambition To help educate and improve lives within the community.




Woodgate K

erry Woodgate has been a trusted name in weddings and floristry for more than

20 years. In that time, she has left her creative touch on countless bridal bouquets and floral arrangements, drawing inspiration and motivation from every new piece she creates. And even after two decades in the industry, each of Kerry’s designs is as unique as the client. “I understand that everyone’s vision is different when it comes to flowers,” she said “I love to create unique modern perfectly styled weddings, just as no two flowers are identical, no two people are the same.” “Styling is my passion! I love having a creative outlet and feel privileged to help create lasting memories for my clients, designs that reflect their personality and style.” Originally the owner of Scott’s Bridal Boutique, Kerry established I Do Flowers in 2006. The Mulgrave Road florist has doubled in size over the past eight years as the business continues to expand its offerings. I Do Flowers is bursting at the seams with all things floral for every occasion and items for hire including chair covers and backdrops. “We are always adding new ideas to our collection here, keeping things fun and fresh and current,” Kerry said. “Our aim is to make things easy for our clients, often they can walk in and say ‘I love it ,that’s exactly what I want!. “But I always take time to listen to each and every bride. It requires a lot of thought and dedication to bring a look together that is their idea of just perfect on the day.: Kerry attributes her creativity to her parents, who she says were both extremely talented and creative. But she never intended to follow in the path of her mother, who was a wellknown wedding designer and florist in


Innisfail. “To be honest, when I was young I wasn’t interested at all,” she said. “It was after I travelled outside of Innisfail and started going to national Interflora floristry conferences that something sparked within me. I began to see the artistic side of floristry and I became more and more involved and experienced a great deal of success quickly.” Kerry established her business soon after which has continually grown and adapted to the ever-changing industry and floral trends. “Trends in floristry change just like fashion and décor, and the floral designs of today are completely different to when I started,” Kerry said. “They used to be very structured and contained. Today there are so many varied styles in floristry and the look is more organic. “It’s about moving with where things are going, maintaining our high standard and our point of difference. The most important part of our role - regardless of the changing times - is making everything we do relevant to the brief of the client for a wedding or event, or the tastes of the recipient of a bouquet or arrangement.” Kerry may have lost count of the number of weddings she has prepared flowers for, but she never forgets the joy her creations bring to people’s faces. And no occasion was more memorable than her own wedding day. “It went beyond anything I’d done before and have done since,” she said. “It was an extraordinary collective effort of all my florist friends coming together to bring my vision to life. I had access to everything you could imagine and there were absolutely no boundaries to what I could do. “We transformed Innisfail Town Hall into a magical wonderland for 500 guests. People lined the streets throughout the town. I still can’t believe it was my wedding. I loved it.”

While Innisfail remains close to Kerry’s heart, she is grateful of her biggest business decision, to move to Cairns 26 years ago. She said she was looking for ‘bigger and brighter’ horizons when she made the move. “I actually thought I would head south,” she said. “Then I was presented with this question – ‘do you want to be a small fish in a big pond or a big fish in a small pond?’ “I realised I didn’t need to head south, I could head North. I had all the knowledge I needed and I was ready to leave Innisfail.” “Cairns was just what I needed. I got the best of both worlds, the bigger and brighter opportunities and remained close to my friends and family. To this day Cairns offers me exactly what I need and more.” Whether it’s designing unforgettable wedding arrangements, crafting a bunch of flowers for a birthday or get-well gift, or simply brightening someone’s day, Kerry continues to enjoy each and every day of her work. “I am very proud of what I have achieved and the people alongside me who help make it happen,” she said.

Biggest Inspiration My mum Norma, her talents were extraordinary. Greatest obstacle or challenge The limitations I put on myself. Career highlight My wedding. Secret to success Being grateful and passionate. Future direction Keep growing and evolving, making I Do Flowers relevant and our work elegant and stunning.

“I have a constantly reignited passion for what I do and I genuinely care about people and what I do for them. For all of this, I am truly grateful!�

Dial A Doctor

aya R M a y o


n the past three years, DialA-Doctor has become a household name throughout Cairns. Most people know it as the afterhours GP service providing bulk-billed medical house visits. But what many people don’t realise is Dial-A-Doctor is a privately-owned, family-run business, established in 2010 by Raya Mayo and her lawyer son Ilya - initially the sole doctor and driver team. Dial-A-Doctor now employs up to 100 staff across Cairns and their newest service area in Perth, and has plans to expand to other regions in the coming years. The business may have grown, but the original vision hasn’t changed.

“When someone falls ill afterhours and it is not a life threatening situation, we want them to call DialA-Doctor for help,” Raya said. “The hardest part was convincing people that Dial A Doctor was not “too good to be true”, that we were a legitimate GP service and a real business here to stay – not a short lived government scheme.” Each week, Raya continues to work through the night and well into the morning visiting sick

patients in their homes right across Cairns, including those whose homes are the city’s streets and trees. In a decorated medical career spanning more than 30 years, Raya has worked in some of the world’s most disadvantaged communities and desperate circumstances, including helping at Banda Aceh following the 2004 tsunami and post-war South Sudan. But her years with Dial-A-Doctor have been a highlight. “I get the biggest enjoyment from knowing that Ilya and I have set up a service that is needed and used every day of the year,” Raya said. “From the very beginning we had a very warm welcoming in the community and we couldn’t have established the service without people opening their doors to us and trusting us. “Everything I had done before, all my training, travelling the world as a doctor, all came together to allow me to provide a service I knew was needed. Being able to set up Dial A Doctor and provide a service which benefits not only the patients, but also other GP’s and the community at large, is very rewarding.” Raya explained, the service reduces pressure on the public hospital system by providing an afterhours alternative to the emergency department to patients with non-life-threatening conditions. In addition to curtailing the spread of contagious illnesses, Dial A Doctor provides the public purse with significant cost savings as the bulk-billing rebate is less than a third of the cost of

a patient presenting to hospital. Local GP’s can also take advantage of the service by arranging a Dial-A-Doctor GP to check on patients they are concerned about after hours, particularly the terminally ill and elderly. And it was this very situation that first inspired Raya to start Dial-A-Doctor. “My children’s’ grandma was turning 90 and we came from Adelaide to celebrate her birthday in Palm Cove when she fell very ill,” Raya recalled. “We couldn’t get a doctor to attend to her in our hotel afterhours. At that point I knew I would spend the next stage of my life here in Cairns doing exactly that.”

Biggest inspiration “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!’ - W. H. Murray in The Scottish Himalaya Expedition, 1951. Greatest challenge Convincing our future clients that “we were NOT too good to be true”. Career highlight Setting up Dial-A-Doctor (by far!), as well as working in areas of desperate need throughout the world. Secret to success If you love what you do, you can’t fail. Future direction Deliver services to other communities in need of afterhours doctors.


Tropical Property



Susie n gla

en years ago Susie England discovered what she calls ‘the best kept secret of the Eastern seaboard’. Now she’s made a career of sharing that secret every day. Susie is the owner of Tropical Property in Mission Beach - a ‘whole of life’ property business which offers strata, sales, rental and holiday services. With no shop front, the boutique, online-based agency prides itself on selling a lifestyle, rather than real estate. “Real estate is a generic shirt and tie transaction, we’re not that. “We are certainly not hard sell either. We are looking to deliver a special transaction experience, and our motto - It’s nice doing business with nice people captures just that.” The business began as a strata management agency in November 2010. Three months later, the region was devastated by Cyclone Yasi. Susie said the months that followed were the biggest test of her business life. “It becomes very, very personal. And the contrast between the entities that can help and bureaucratic barriers, is nothing short of challenging.” Since then Susie’s business plan continues to be followed with expansion into the full suite of property services and a growing staff. While Tropical Property remains essentially a small business, it has outperformed the larger real estate agencies - being the top selling agent in the region for 9 months to end March 2014. Susie says her work is aided by

great staff, commitment to service, and the highly marketable Mission Beach lifestyle.

“There is not a property in Mission Beach that does not promise a truly unique outlook,” she said. “This area has the most fantastic future and its natural charms will win over even the toughest local, interstate or overseas buyer. The town is certainly not showy, but the depth of quality and opportunity here is world class.” It was that humble nature and lack of pretension that drew Susie and her young family to Mission Beach. They searched the coast from the Daintree to Tweed Heads, inspecting homes on every beachfront street before returning to Mission Beach to buy one of the first homes they saw. It’s a world away from their former hectic life in Sydney, yet offers everything Susie and her family need. “Safe, tropical, wild, unique, quiet and with plenty of restaurants, oh and a Woolworths,” she said. “It’s a lifestyle that really delivers that tropical escape feeling, like stepping back to a holiday you remember as a child, like Byron Bay when it really was cool.” While there’s no way of knowing what the future holds, one thing is certain - the magic of Mission



Beach has won Susie’s heart. “Tonight it will again be a nice cool glass of white while the twilight over Dunk Island slowly fades - beautiful.”

Biggest inspiration I’m inspired by success, although the measure mightn’t be the one you’re thinking of. It’s people, my staff, my family and those clients whose lives we can really change, for a day, a year or a lifetime. Greatest obstacle or challenge Regional economies. Boy, once you’re on the backside of the wave it’s tough. That wave includes the biggest cyclone to cross Australia’s coast, the AU$ and a GFC to name a few. We started and expanded in spite of these major events. Career highlight Getting through those challenges. Tough markets teach you focus, only then do really learn what’s important. Secret to success Why would I tell you that! In any market it’s the really unique aspect of a business that can’t be copied. You either have it or you don’t. Future business direction Our clients drive our business. We are resilient, we use the technology, we identify trends and then we simply introduce people to the absolute beauty of Tropical Property at Mission Beach. Every day of the year.


Skin and Light Medi Clinic

r h o nda H


honda Higham is one of Queensland’s leading skin therapists, and owns one of the state’s most highly awarded clinics. In 25 years in the beauty industry, Rhonda has seen the development of leading edge technology revolutionise the field, and take her business to new heights. Established in 1997 as Rhonda’s Beauty Spot, the Cairns business specialised in the basics of beauty therapy – waxing, tinting, nails and facials. In 2011, the business was renamed Skin and Light Medi Clinic to reflect the growing range of paramedical services including LED light therapy and advanced skin peels. “I never dreamed that, through the advances in cosmeceutical products and treatments, we could achieve the remarkable results we do today without the need for surgery or invasive procedures,” Rhonda said. “The business name now really reflects the latest in all Paramedical Skin and Medical LED Light Therapy Treatments. The difference is the newer products and treatments result in clients being able to see real and visible results.” To achieve those results, Rhonda and her staff complete ongoing, high level training, and attend regular seminars and courses as far as Brisbane and Sydney.


igham “There needs to be a significant passion and dedication to continually discover and learn about new products and treatments,” she said.

Beauty Spot, which became the first salon in Cairns to offer AHA Chemical Peels.” Today Skin and Medi Clinic is a busy team of two therapists, specialising in microdermabrasion, skin peeling, medical skin peels, Omnilux LED Light therapy, retinol peels, Ultra Skin Medical Needling System and mineral makeup. You can learn more about the services and visit the team at 242 Sheridan Street, Cairns.

“I am always hungry for research on new treatments and products as they become available so I can make informed choices on new offerings that are very specific to the harsh climate of Cairns. It is so wonderful to see my clients looking younger today with clearer, brighter and smoother skin thanks to the advancement in cosmeceuticals.” It was that same passion that drove Rhonda to turn a teenage desire to look her best, into a decorated career in the beauty industry. After the birth of her second child, she completed a Diploma in Beauty Therapy and Rhonda says she’s been on an ‘amazing journey’ ever since. “I began working promoting fragrances in a department store and then moved into cosmetics and finally beauty therapy,” she says. “I worked in a very small beauty room within a busy pharmacy for two years before opening Rhonda’s

Biggest inspiration My Mum and Dad – they worked hard and instilled in me a work ethos and personal values that I still hold. Greatest obstacle or challenge Balancing work, family and personal interests Career highlight Winning multiple national salon and beauty therapist awards as a small operator, excelling over the national chain salons Secret to success Hard work, invest in training so you know what you don’t know, and have a balance between work and play time. Future business direction Continue to provide the best and most up to date services for my clients.

Affinity Designer Homes



“I have a passion for the building industry, great design and love interacting with people so everything I do at Affinity Designer Homes is a combination of the things I enjoy most.” 74

As a building designer and licensed builder, Roslyn Smith has been involved within the building industry for many years. At the age of 14 she was told she was suited to working with ‘plan, form and design’ – and soon began to forge her career in the male dominated world of construction. She admits it can be tough, but she was inspired to succeed by her mother, who was a draftsman’s tracer and cartographer at a time when they were jobs only done by men. Roslyn never takes herself too seriously, has an evident passion for her work and lets her professional craftsmanship and innovative designs speak for themselves. “It’s been an interesting transition over the years for the general public to accept a woman in a building or construction role,” she said. “I now enjoy seeing more women at building industry events and being able to ‘talk shop’ with my peers. “I still encourage young woman to enter the building industry. While it can be challenging, it is also very rewarding” As manager of Affinity Designer Homes since 2001, Roslyn is passionate about providing the most suitable homes for Far North Queensland’s tropical climate and conditions. Her work is supported by a team of quality tradespeople, backed by professional and qualified staff. Together they specialise in unique designs and building homes on sloping sites, narrow and irregular shaped land. “I am always saying to clients that the block of land dictates the design of homes, and in North Queensland it is extremely important to get that right. “It’s the difference of living in a home that captures natural cooling breezes rather than relying on high-energy use air-conditioners and using natural light instead of turning on light switches.” These are all skills Roslyn has learnt in her many years in the trade. She graduated from three years of college as an architectural draftswoman

and worked for various architects and engineers on a variety of projects from factories, hospitals, retirement complexes and homes to pump stations and sub-divisional works. Roslyn then went on to work in retail hardware and timber at Mitre 10 in Townsville, and managed a roof truss and wall framing plant with Campbell’s Hardware, where she detailed all the work for both the Cairns and Townsville fabrication plants. Roslyn also worked as resident Building Designer and estimator for building companies. “I moved from Townsville to Cairns in 1993 to take up a role as designer and estimator with a local building company. I have always worked in some aspect of the construction industry.” Outside of work Roslyn volunteers in a number of community organisations, from youth mentoring to sporting groups and basketball.

Biggest inspiration My mother inspired me to succeed, especially in building. I also find inspiration in the other women making their way in the construction industry. Greatest challenge Patience. Career highlight Being the first female fabrication plant manger in Queensland for Campbell’s and in Australia using the multi nail truss systems. Secret to success Don’t take yourself too seriously and remember that every day is a new learning opportunity. I like the idea of Affinity Designer Homes being a quiet achiever. Future direction There are signs the local building industry is recovering and we want Affinity Designer Homes to continue to grow with the current market providing customised homes for many years to come.

Canine Training School


Mair “I enjoy the relationship with the owners as much as I enjoy working with the dogs.”

Linda Mair is living proof that if you enjoy your job you’ll never work a day in your life. The owner of Canine Training School she has combined her lifelong love of animals with an equally strong desire to help others. Passionate about working with dogs and their owners she hopes to explore new avenues to assist clients in establishing a more rewarding and enjoyable relationship with their four-legged friends. After growing up around horses, it’s no surprise Linda spent the first ten years of her career on a thoroughbred stud in N.S.W. After then moving to Cairns in 1994 she took on a position at YAPS kennels before being employed as an Animal Control Officer with the Cairns Regional Council. “During this time I worked alongside Carol Jarman who also operated Canine Training School,” Linda says. “ I became interested in the industry while training my own dog with Carol and later worked for her full time.” As Linda’s insight into canine behaviour grew, she was given the opportunity to take over Canine Training School in 2012. “Carol has been my mentor and inspiration in my passion for working with dogs and I hope to continue the wonderful work she has done.” Operating from the Earlville Vet Surgery at 474 Mulgrave Road, Canine Training School currently offers two courses. Run over four weeks, Puppy Prechool teaches the basic commands of come, sit, drop and stay. It also covers socialisation with other dogs and people, and offers individual assistance with relevant behavioural issues. From there, owners and their dogs can attend 3rd Level Obedience over a 7-week period. This course covers additional commands with a strong emphasis on canine behaviour and education of the handler. “It’s important to be able to relate to all types of human personalities as well as being able to identify the various personalities of the dogs,” Linda says.” In addition to her extensive practical experience, Linda has completed a Certificate in HumanCanine Relationships from the University of

Queensland and currently writes a monthly column for CairnsLife Magazine. “Developing confidence in myself as a business operator and my knowledge of training and working with dogs was the biggest challenge I had to overcome in the first few months of owning the business,” she says. “But I also love to learn, so being open to new ideas and continual intellectual advancement means you are always furthering your knowledge and understanding.” As part of her commitment to educating dogs and their owners, Linda is looking to expand the business in a variety of ways. “I am in the process of designing additional courses on canine behaviour and training, while also working towards writing my own book in the next few years,” she says. She also hopes to produce a series of training videos that will be sold through the school and online. “Working with people and their dogs is my passion,” she says.

Biggest inspiration My parents and former owner of the business, Carol Jarman. Greatest obstacle/challenge Finding confidence within myself as a trainer and business owner. Career Highlight Obtaining a Certificate in Human-Canine Relationships and becoming a monthly contributor to CairnsLife Magazine. Secret to success A love of animals and a passion for working with people and their dogs. Future direction Expanding the business – including developing training videos and a book.



e m m a



“A great teacher tells their own story and shares their experiences.”


hey are the words of Emma Miller, a personal trainer who believes education is the key to optimum health. Owner of Cairns’ award-winning health and fitness business EmPowerFx, Emma is also a soughtafter guest speaker and presenter for schools, corporate and fundraising groups. And she sees her work as an opportunity to help people with much more than just fitness. “I love the opportunity to inspire others to believe in themselves. Nothing makes me prouder than being part of that journey.” Emma attributes her own success to that same willingness to succeed. She was one of the first operators to offer outdoor group training in Cairns after moving north 14 years ago and spent the following years completing triathlon coaching, Les Mills programs, fitness and nutrition training and CrossFit and boxing classes. The blood, sweat and tears paid off. In 2006, Emma was approached by THUMP Boxing to teach boxing and kickboxing to fitness professionals around Australia. In 2009 she was approached by Cairns Regional Council to help restructure the city’s Fun Free Fitness Program. That same year she was contracted by The Biggest Loser to be a trainer to the show’s stars on Fitzroy Island for three months. “The greatest reward was seeing Bob not only win, but return to Cairns six months later to compete in the Coral Coast Triathlon,” she said. In 2012 Emma began working with the Emazon team as a national presenter at mind, body and spirit conventions around Australia. She has also joined the Cairns Crocs Triathlon Club as a coach and sponsor, is a mentor for the Cairns Business Women’s Club and Cairns Young Chamber of Commerce, an ambassador for the Special Olympics and Trek, and a Cairns Road Safety Campaign leader. “My passion and purpose is to help people believe in themselves, to chase their dreams and create a peaceful, balanced and fulfilled life.” Triathlon coaching has become a major focus of Emma’s work. In 2010 she trained 30 clients for the Coral Coast event. By 2012 that number had grown to 50 participants, who also trained for

Cairns Ironman and in 2013 Emma coached a total of 75 entrants to both events. It was a year of success for Emma, who was also named Cairns Business Woman of the Year. In 2014, business is booming with three other trainers now assisting Emma to deliver classes at the city studio, Cairns Esplanade and Trinity Beach. EmPowerFx offers a full group fitness timetable, triathlon training program including junior sessions, and mini triathlons to introduce children and adults to Emma’s love of a challenging swim-bike-run for fun and fundraising. “They say variety is the spice of life and I’m always looking for new ways to deliver services in new locations in this wonderful outdoor environment,” she said. “I believe the future of the fitness industry lies in the client making a conscious choice in what they need, at what intensity and when. “The days are long gone when a trainer stands over you and shouts “give me twenty”. The time is perfect right now for trainers to encourage and support people to take responsibility for their life, their body and their mind.” To train with Emma and her team visit

Biggest inspiration My clients. I have clients that battle sickness and heartbreaking loss but still achieve amazing things. Biggest challenge To keep going. When times get tough it would be all too easy just to walk away. When my back is against the wall I need to remember it’s not just about me. Career highlight Sharing my love and knowledge for triathlon and mind fitness - coaching 50 amazing EmPowerFx athletes to participate in Cairns Ironman in 2013!! Secret to Success Never surrender to fear. Trust your intuition, follow your heart not your head. Believe in yourself, follow your dreams and believe anything is possible. Future Direction To inspire people worldwide to believe in themselves and dream big. I have a passion and a purpose to share, create and inspire. Your thoughts create your life and I choose to make this life a positive experience.

JMC Architects

Julianne Field


ulianne Field is an award-winning architect, but still finds nothing more rewarding than a happy client and there are plenty of them. Beginning her career in architecture in 1995 and forming her own studio practice 10 years later, Julianne has designed dozens of houses, multi-residential and commercial buildings across Cairns and Far North Queensland. It’s a passion she discovered at an early age – enjoying working with her hands and taking great care and pride in her creative works from early childhood. Julianne developed an interest in built environment in secondary school, and work experience with an architect in year 10 sealed her fate. “I realized early in life my passion for designing buildings and I was fortunate to be given the opportunities to make it my profession.” “I have become very interested in how the built environment relates to the immediate landscape, its history and the people who occupy it. Designing a residence involves getting to know your clients and how they interact with spaces.” Julianne’s passion of architecture and design led her to find the other love of her life – builder Richard Field. She first met Richard working on the Coles Shopping Complex in Port Douglas 14 years ago. Now they are married, have three sons and together operate the design and build service Field Homes – tropical innovative designs. But living and breathing work as a couple means Julianne has had to proactively create a healthy work-life balance. “To be successful in the business of architecture, it is best to have a strategy in place, eat well, sleep well, play well and then you can be your best at work,” she said. “I think balancing life and work changes as your family grows and business grows, so the challenge for me is to be open to changing routines and strategies along the way.” Many have asked Julianne if being a woman in the construction industry is a disadvantage, but she believes feminine instincts give her the upper hand on male counterparts. “I believe women are innately good at listening and interpreting

- fundamentals in establishing an accurate client brief for any particular project. “We are generally good at communicating and of course multitasking and I believe a lot of clients probably believe a woman better understands the concept of a creating a ‘home’.

“Architecture is a creative process and you need to be in touch with your inner self, which I believe woman, tend to be...constantly assessing and correcting their direction.” A multitude of elements inspire each of Julianne’s designs. There’s the site, landforms and microclimate, the building’s purpose and the people who will use or inhabit it, budget, sustainability and of course planning, building and code regulations. But it’s the landscape in Far North Queensland she finds most remarkable. “The variance in landscape and climate from the wet tropics to dry savannah lands to coastal areas all invoke a certain sense of creativity, it’s just breathtaking,” she said. “I also read a lot and because I can’t travel at this stage of my life the web exposes us to new technologies and building systems. I am always looking for new ways to incorporate the appropriate system for our tropical environment and we are committed to sustainable design for the tropics, investigating new technologies and using local materials where possible.”

FNQ Housing and Construction Awards - MBA 2013: Winner – Housing for sloping sites over $426,000 2011: Winner – Individual home $451,000-$600,000 2010: Winner – Home Renovation/ Remodeling Project over $401,000 2006: Winner – Individual Home $850,000-$1.5 million

Biggest inspiration There is an extensive array of talented Australian Architects to draw inspiration from, I have attended two architectural conferences in the past two years and listening to my colleagues always leaves me inspired. Biggest challenge Educating clients on the ‘real value’ of engaging an architect through the entire process of a project from concept design to final completion. Career highlight I think this one is still ahead of me, but for now it’s winning the project you had your heart set on and creating stunning architecture. Secret to success I don’t think you can itemize this one. I enjoy what I do and I like to do it very well. Future direction I believe JMc Architects has an exciting future ahead. We have two architects on board now, always eager to get to work on the next innovative design.


Unique People




E v ans - W il d E

ven as a child reading by torchlight at night, Shelley Evans-Wild was determined to get the most out of every day. This business owner, trainer, philanthropist, wife, and mother of one, juggles her multitude of hats with seemingly remarkable ease. The founder of Unique People is perhaps best known in Tropical North Queensland as a leading professional development practitioner in human behaviour, however she is a strong driver behind a cutting edge education movement which combines the latest applications of neuroscience with brain-based learning and is regarded internationally as an expert in her field. Locally born and bred, Shelley completed Year 12 at Cairns High in 1986 before embarking on a teaching career. Happily admitting she “fell into” education initially, by the age of 21 she was already one of the youngest female principals in Queensland. “As a school administrator I quickly discovered I was good at two things: making things happen and I had a commercial flare,” she laughs. “I had studied behavioural science and positive psychology – which I injected into the schools where I worked.” By the age of 30 Shelley was ready to explore new avenues and it was inevitable that she would go into business for herself. In 2002, with limited business experience and very little in the bank, Unique People was established. “I took a leap of faith to start my business,” Shelley says.

“I knew I could sell, network and train people.” Quickly establishing a name for herself, she took the opportunity to invest heavily in further studies as a neuroeducator to become a leading practitioner and specialist in human behaviour and neuroleadership. Passionate about neuroscience, Shelley says by understanding how the brain functions, employers can achieve greater productivity and creativity from their employees. “We’re all taught to eat right and exercise but no one teaches you how to look after your brain or how to capitalise on its functions to improve decision making or have a competitive advantage.” Shelley recently had the honour of being one of a few people worldwide to be inducted into a programme on neuroleadership. She has also been approached to compile a series of programs to be used in schools throughout Dubai. In addition to providing a client consultation service, Shelley has also been actively involved in community leadership, fostering the development of future leaders and world contributors by designing and delivering programmes and sponsoring industry experts to speak at public events. Determined to support the local community wherever she can, Shelley has volunteered her time to a number of organisations including

Regional Development Australia, Cairns Chamber of Commerce, The Salvation Army and JUTE Theatre Company. And never one to walk away from a challenge, a seven-months-pregnant Shelley spearheaded the inaugural Ruby Ball, which netted $70,000 for the Salvation Army Appeal in 2012. While the birth of her daughter has seen her lighten her workload, she still leads Unique People, assists with her husband Simon’s business, Skytrans and volunteers time for local charities. “As a family we’re very blessed so it’s really nice to give back,” says Shelley. “I wake up every day loving what I do.”

Biggest inspiration My parents for their work ethic, and the people who do so much with so little to help others. Greatest obstacle Overcoming self doubt. Proudest achievement Having the courage and resolve to start my own business. Secret to success “Fire, Ready, Aim”. Don’t think too long – just start. Future ambition To inspire more young people, and to help prepare parents in raising tomorrow’s leaders.`


Smithfield Law

cat rio na



atriona Burke and her husband always dreamt of living where the mountains met the sea. So in 2006 when she made her first visit to Cairns, it took only the short drive from the airport to her hotel for Catriona to know she had found ‘home’. Eight years later she is the principal solicitor of Smithfield Law – a leading Cairns legal firm established in 1998, offering commercial and property law, estate planning and administration. Catriona started with the firm, then known as Cameron Price Lawyers, as a commercial solicitor in 2007. As Cameron neared retirement, Catriona took on more of his clients, before taking over the business in 2010. Smithfield Law’s client base has now grown to cover not only Cairns and the Tablelands but as far away as Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong and Papua New Guinea. “I began to put my own imprint on the business and how it was conducted, which included the name change,” Catriona said. “I have managed to form a great team of highly skilled and motivated women who are the backbone of this business and have made major contributions to its success.” Catriona is responsible for managing the team and day-to-day operation of the business, but the highlight of her work is meeting people and working with them to achieve positive outcomes. “Although many would disagree, there is a beautiful logic about the law that provides a framework for most transactions, both business and personal,” she said.

“Law is about context and cause and effect. It is exciting to watch the law in action.” 80

Catriona says while it may appear the cards have fallen into place for her career, the rise to the top wasn’t so easy. She was 18 and studying a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Queensland when she first became interested in law, but the odds were against her. “At that time, I believe I was too young and inexperienced to overcome what were then very real obstacles,” she said. “I was a working class female from an immigrant background with a convent school education with no connections to the law.” But times have changed, and those traits which once held her back have proven to be an asset to Catriona’s career. Her interest in law was rekindled while working in Ireland. Her employers sent her to the Dublin Institute of Technology to study a Diploma in Human Resources. “The course included legal subjects such as Irish Constitutional Law and employment law and I was hooked,” she said. “Needless to say the law subjects were my best subjects, but I didn’t do so well in production management and economics. When I returned to Australia, I decided to undertake a full time law degree and the rest as they say, is history.”

Biggest inspiration My rebel ancestors Greatest obstacle or challenge Learning how to run a business. Career highlight Learning how to run a business. Secret to success Perseverance Future business direction To diversify our legal practice to include more practical solutions

JUTE Theatre Company

suellen M au n der


s Artistic Director and CEO of JUTE Theatre Company, Suellen Maunder has landed the role of her dreams. Her labour of love which began as a creative spark amongst three new friends, has grown to become an award-winning company with its own 248-seat theatre. From humble beginnings to its current home at the Centre of Contemporary Arts (CoCA), JUTE Theatre Company has successfully ignited the artistic undergrowth of the region. Despite growing up in Cairns at a time when creative outlets were limited, Suellen managed to pursue her love of the arts by studying speech and drama, and becoming involved in local productions. But it was only after returning to Cairns after living in Sydney and meeting her fellow JUTE founding members; Susan Prince and Kathryn Ash that she really began to envisage a potential career. “We were instantly connected artistically,” she says. “There was never a moment when we weren’t coming up with a great idea.” After deciding to share a home that soon transformed into a “hot house of creativity”, their productions moved from the lounge room to a live audience, and in 1992 JUTE (Just Us Theatre Ensemble) was born. After introducing Grafton Arts audiences to their unique take on theatre, the three soon developed an enthusiastic following. “Because we were so dynamic other exciting people were inspired to join us,” Suellen says. “We soon began developing programmes and it continued to grow from there.” After collaborating and cohabitating with KickArts Contemporary Arts for a number of years, they lobbied the state government and eventually received a $2.7million grant in 2001 to build CoCA which JUTE and KickArts moved into in 2004. Now celebrating its tenth anniversary, CoCA is a cultural landmark renowned for its artistic contribution to the community – not to mention its beloved sculpture of the giant jelly babies. While focussed on developing and

producing new work, JUTE also tours and collaborates both nationally and internationally. A not-for-profit organisation, it is now home to a permanent staff of five as well as engaging with over 50 artists and approximately 100 volunteers. “We have 12 key writers in our programme this year and have made 3 places in our Actor Director Development program available to young people from The Young Company to ensure a pathway for the next generation,” Suellen says. Intensely passionate about her work, Suellen loves being surrounded and inspired by creative people. “You can never stop learning,” she says.

“The moment you think you know everything – particularly about an art form – you instantly stop growing.” Biggest inspiration Unearthing, developing and working with artists in the region. Greatest obstacle Educating people that while our product is of very high quality, we are a small, not-forprofit organisation that needs community support. Proudest achievement Moving into our home - CoCA in 2004. Secret to success Perseverance. I have an absolute commitment to regional artists. Future ambition To explore international opportunities, create a profile for our community through digital theatre, and establish pathways for emerging artists.


Ka t ri n a


atrina Spies was a young aspiring teacher with a double degree, returning home to the Tablelands to pick mangoes when she found her calling. She just didn’t know it then. Born and bred in the Tablelands, Katrina returned home after completing her university studies to work and save money to travel overseas. It was around the time of the recession of the early 1990s, and despite her qualifications in education and psychology, work was hard to come by. In 1992 Katrina was offered a job with Mareeba Skillshare, helping in a casual capacity to provide training to the longterm unemployed. “It wasn’t what I wanted to do, but at least I was in an air-conditioned office and not picking mangoes,” she said. After just 12 months, Katrina was asked to take over the management role. When she did, she began to see her work in a new light. “Everyone has a gift, and everyone is different. It’s all about combining those gifts with what you’re most passionate about and that’s how you find your purpose in life,” she said. “That’s what I think my reason for being is, connecting people to their purpose. It’s nothing special, I’m just lucky I’ve worked that out.” Katrina says the turning point for her career was a Rotary group study exchange to India.

“It was really a pivotal moment for me on a personal and spiritual level as well, and that showed through in my work,” she said. “I was able to see my vocation in an entirely different light and while there were no government programs, there were service programs, doing things like delivering Singer sewing machines to the slums. At first I didn’t think much of it, they weren’t even electric. But then, they didn’t have electricity. With these machines a person could make



clothes and sell them to earn money to feed their entire family and you could see the whole ripple effect through the community. “That for me was a moment where I came to realise that finding meaningful work is one of the greatest gifts you can give someone. And I felt blessed that’s what I’d fallen into.” Mareeba Skillshare had only one office, five staff members and an annual turnover of $230,000 at the time Katrina joined. Today she is the chief executive officer of the recruitment and training agency, now known as QITE, which has grown to post $13-million in annual turnover and assists more than 3000 people at any point in time to find work. It has more than 100 staff servicing a wide area from Mossman to Cardwell, including Cairns, Mareeba, Atherton, Innisfail and Yarrabah. If that wasn’t enough, Katrina and her husband Peter run a stud beef cattle enterprise with more than 200 stud breeders. She sits on a number of Regional Development Committees and was also the first female president of the Mareeba Rotary Club, is a past president of the Mareeba Business Women’s Association and has been voted consistently over the past decade by her peers to represent them on the National Employment Services Association Board. And her work hasn’t gone unnoticed. Katrina has a number of awards to her name including the Telstra Queensland Young Business Women’s Award, Cairns Business Women’s Club Manager in Business Award, and success at the Australian Institute of Management, Rural and Regional Manager of the Year Award in 2012. But Katrina says the most rewarding achievement of all was the birth of her son five years ago. “He’s our miracle boy, and after years and years of trying we had given up hope,” she said. “This year he started school. It’s a beautiful thing, and we’d trade everything else for him.” Katrina admits there’s also been some tough years. Economic downturn and a change in government left Mareeba Skillshare without a reliable source of funding. Other agencies closed their doors, but Katrina said she and her staff accepted substantial pay cuts in


order to keep the doors open. “We could not influence the decision to cut the contract, but by keeping our minds open and focusing on those things within our circle of influence we sought, and secured new opportunities. From that Mareeba Skillshare became QIT (Quality Industry Training) and later QITE (Quality Innovation Training Employment).” Katrina speaks proudly of this time, and indeed the history of this organisation, which includes the achievement of some major deliverables. Under the stewardship of this CEO, QITE has also responded quickly to changing employment and business markets across the region. The dharma in this success stems from Katrina’s belief in focusing your energy, striving for excellence and always opening your mind to new possibilities. “If you know what your essence is, and what your passion is, opportunities will always present to service those things. It might be in ways you never dreamed of - not good or bad, just different.” Katrina is a strong believer that everything happens for a reason, and those who stay true to themselves will be successful in business. She also believes ‘you can’t have a perfect person but you can have a perfect team and that is a key to success.’ “You have to be genuine, you can’t pretend to be something you’re not or extend yourself to a point you no longer feel authentic or can’t deliver,” she said. “If you keep to your plans and keep your integrity, something will always arrive. It’s not blind faith, it just comes down to believing in yourself, the situation you find yourself in and the people you place around you.”

Biggest inspiration Any story of liberation. Greatest obstacle or challenge Closed minds. Career highlight Still to come! Secret to success Be authentic. Future direction Trying to help as many people as possible connect to their purpose.

UnderArt Gallery


Boissevain O

ffering a diverse range of original artwork, jewellery and collectibles, UnderArt Gallery was established in 2009 by well-known artist iefje Boissevain. While this charming and inviting space offers an eclectic mix of cultures and genres, the common theme throughout is colour and positivity. Describing her own work as contemporary abstract, iefje is always looking to source that “something different” in order to offer her customers a unique and ever-changing mix. Centrally located at Shop 4, 12 Spence Street, near the corner of Abbott Street, the gallery is an attraction to both visitors and locals alike. And while visitors make up approximately half of her clientele, iefje is very quick to acknowledge her local customers. “Without the locals we wouldn’t be here, so I am always grateful for their support,” she says. Although tastefully finished with an upmarket feel, the gallery offers a range of products to suit all budgets. “We like to be exclusive in what we offer, but that doesn’t mean we are unaffordable,” iefje says. “We now have a huge range of sterling silver jewellery at very affordable prices. I have even had customers say we have one of the biggest selections of silver earrings in Cairns.” With a great choice of gifts including unique resin clocks, quirky quotes, handpainted ceramics in cheery colours, and raku bird sculptures to name a few, UnderArt Gallery is ideal for people looking for unique yet inexpensive presents. Now celebrating her fourth year in business, iefje says that while it hasn’t all been smooth sailing, she is excited and positive about what lies ahead. Dividing her time between the gallery and her studio in Gordonvale, she clearly enjoys the best of both worlds. “I love having contact with people and getting their feedback, while it’s also nice to escape for a few days and do my own thing,” she says.


“I’m passionate about what I do every day and just love the energy here.” Biggest inspiration The reward is from clients’ encouraging and positive comments on all aspects of the gallery, including purchases of my own artworks. Greatest obstacle/challenge Juggling being an artist and running a business, which requires two totally different brains!!! Career Highlight Opening my own gallery in 2009. Secret to success Always evolving and believing in what you do, listening to customers, and taking advice from those more successful than yourself. Future direction To keep growing UnderArt Gallery to become “the place to visit” in Cairns for an eclectic and diverse collection.

Psychserenity Clinical Psychology

Dr Donna Tur n bull


onna Turnbull has the unique opportunity of getting to know people better than they know themselves. Her work as a clinical psychologist has seen her help hundreds of people from all walks of life with a multitude of concerns. “For as long as I can remember, one constant in my life has been my fragmentary curiosity of why people do what they do, which still remains a source of fascination for me today,” Donna said. “This curiosity has led me to explore abnormal psychology and personality disorders with more scrutiny. My fascination and eagerness for such acquisitions has led me to work in an array of different settings.” These settings have included working in clinical, forensic and organisational psychology alongside government and non-government agencies, courts, schools, families, and emergency services including the Australian Defence Force. Donna has also been involved with the production of psychological reports for government and community agencies, including Commonwealth Rehabilitation Services, disability services, private pyschiatrists, adult mental health services and the Department of Corrective Services, right across Australia. Completing her Honours Degree in Psychology at James Cook University Cairns in 2000, Donna began work in acute care teams at Ipswich before completing a Doctorate of Psychology at Townsville. In 2007 Donna moved to the Northern Territory to further her career development, becoming heavily involved in Indigenous mental health before the beauty and lifestyle of Far North Queensland drew her back to Cairns three years later. “It meant re-establishing myself in Cairns as a Psychologist but this time in a private practice,” she said. “Within four months of opening I had a full client load and have never looked back. I absolutely love this city.” Donna regularly works with people with acute and chronic mental illness, developmental disabilities, sensory deficits, anger issues, depression,

anxiety, relationship issues, domestic violence, sexual assault and substance abuse. Her extensive studies in psychology and many years of clinical experience have provided her with the core knowledge and necessary skills to develop good client rapport. “That enables me to establish an accurate history of the problems, to provide support to clients at times of distress and acquire the relevant information needed to make an informed and competent decision to ensure client safety and the best possible client outcomes, while maintaining a safe and confidential working relationship between myself and the client,” Donna said. Regardless of the nature or complexity of each client’s issues, Donna enjoys being a part of their journey to overcoming challenges and living a happier life.

“In my practice, I see many people move through life by simply going along with the current and letting outside forces determine their direction, while at the same time subconsciously recreating what is familiar,” she said. “For me it is about introducing the concept of change. In other words, helping clients identify when change is needed and how to go about it. “However, in saying that, one of the greatest things I have reaped from being a clinician is the collective wisdom of my clients. The aim is moving them toward to their self-

actualisation. So in my profession, success isn’t just about what you accomplish in life but how you inspire others to do so as well.” Like anyone in business, it is important for Donna to navigate any bumps in the road with a strong focus on her end goals. She also makes a deliberate and conscious effort to leave her professional life behind at the end of the day. “My personal life and my relationships with my family becomes my focus after work and spending valuable time with them is important to me,” she said. “Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by having fun and having my own time out to relax also allows me to create the work-life balance I need.”

Biggest inspiration My past challenges in life became my most esteemed motivators. My family and my zest for life have also been influential. Greatest obstacles or challenge Establishing a clinical practice. Career highlight There have been many including the endorsement of service agreements with Northern Territory Police regarding the Juvenile Justice and Domestic Violence program. Secret to success I think being successful requires us to be more present in our lives. We need to find our niche and map out the appropriate steps to make this happen. Future business direction Branching out to Corporate Services and Executive Coaching. I believe there is more of a need for the application of psychology within Human Resources and organisational rehabilitation.


Zoo to You

jodie F


ar from your average 9-5 profession, those in Jodie Creek’s line of work never clock off. Along with her three young children who are sure to be the envy of all their friends, she currently has 50 native wild animals in her care. As founder of Zoo to You, Jodie is just as passionate about caring for animals as she is about educating students and visitors about our wildlife. Armed with a Wildlife Biology degree, Jodie relocated to Cairns in 2000 and spent 7 years in the Zoo industry. “One day I woke up and realised something was missing,” she says. “What I really wanted was to spend more time visiting and educating students.” It was a random meeting with Brian Duncan (aka Uncle Brian) who formerly ran Uncle Brian’s Tours that encouraged Jodie to pursue her dreams. “He inspired me to take a risk and follow my heart, “she says. “I was also fortunate to have a wonderful mentor within the Zoo industry who guided me to where I am today.” After obtaining a teaching degree and spending 12 months researching and setting up the business, Zoo to You held its first show in February 2009. “Delivering the programs is fun and working with animals and kids is extremely rewarding,” Jodie says. “I now also have two wonderful employees who help me deliver amazing programs to children at schools, kindergartens and daycare centres where we compliment the curriculum by connecting the theory with real life.” In 2012 Jodie expanded the business to include the “Zoo to You HQ Wildlife Discovery Centre”. Operating from The Pier Shopping Centre, they run daily shows and tours covering the Great Australian Outback, Tropical Rainforests, Waterways and the Great Barrier Reef. ‘I was fortunate that The Pier gave me the opportunity to create a journey through 4 major habitats found within Australia,” she


says. “We have over 40 animals within the centre where we also deliver Wildlife Talks and Tours teaching locals and tourists about Australia’s amazing wildlife and their habitats.” Despite having the animals based at her home and taking on a 24/7 commitment, Jodie says the business provides her with a wonderful work/life balance.

“For me success is measured by being able to juggle family and business and still managing to sleep at night,” she laughs. “Most of all I enjoy seeing the smiles and amazement on the faces of children and students I teach.” Biggest inspiration: Brian Duncan from Uncle Brian’s Tours. Greatest obstacle OR challenge: Juggling a business as a single mum with 3 kids and 50 animals. Career Highlight: Opening “Zoo to You HQ Wildlife Discovery Centre” in 2012. Secret to success: Loving what I do. I literally live and breath wildlife. Future direction: To increase our involvement in school curriculums, and to create a mobile zoo on wheels

Gateway Media Group



“I love interacting with people and finding ways to help them grow and succeed.”

M cFarla n e


ith roots firmly embedded in the local tourism and media industry, Fiona McFarlane has certainly found her niche as head of Gateway Media Group. Combining her responsibilities as Managing Director with her commitments to SKAL International (a worldwide tourism organisation), she is clearly making her mark within the industry. Already winners of the 2013 Queensland Tourism Gold Award for Specialised Tourism Services and finalists at the Australian Tourism Awards, she and her talented team have every intention of taking the business to a whole new level. Originally from Scotland, Fiona arrived in Cairns on her tenth birthday where she completed her education at St Monica’s before taking on a variety of roles in the tourism and hospitality industries. After a two-year stint as Sales Manager at Gateway Media, she later established the Brisbane office in 2010 – before taking on the Managing Director’s role in 2012. Now heading a team of four and based back in Cairns, her career has come full circle. “It’s a really exciting time for the industry,” she says. “Visitor numbers are up and the advent of eMarketing and social media means business owners have much closer access to their customers than ever before.” As the name suggests, Gateway Media Group acts as an entry point providing visitors with the best tourist information available. In addition to publishing the BIG Gateway Maps, and producing Gateway Television, they recently launched Gateway eMarketing, and also individually-tailor creative services to clients. The BIG Maps provide a comprehensive yet easy-to-read resource that can be accessed in a variety of locations,

while Gateway Television runs 24hrs a day in the premier hotels of Cairns. “These vehicles enable tourists to get the most out of their visit while providing local businesses with a wonderful platform on which to reach them.” Fiona says. To compliment these existing services, Fiona and her team now offer an extensive range of eMarketing solutions. As well as creating email newsletters, campaigns and online surveys, they also provide project management and social media services. “It’s definitely the way forward,” she says. “By harnessing the power of print, and television, together with eMarketing, we can engage our audience and deliver results for our customers.” Being in the communications industry, it’s perhaps no surprise that Fiona says the best part of her job is networking.

Biggest inspiration Lorna Jane. A local girl who turned an idea into an empire! Greatest obstacle/challenge Finding the right team. Career Highlight Winning the Gold Award at the 2013 Queensland Tourism Awards. Secret to success Hard work, timing, and an equal work/ play balance. Future direction Expansion, Expansion, Expansion!


Dedicated Training & Consulting Group

Cate Ashmore “I’m really excited by the opportunities ahead, and very fortunate to do what I love everyday.” 90

With a fascinating background and a string of qualifications, Cate Ashmore has truly found her calling as CEO of Dedicated Group. Motivated by her desire to help others reach their full potential, her success has as much to do with her professional attitude and people skills as is does with her infectious sense of humour. Already highly recognised for her work throughout Australia, she is now excited by the prospect of returning to her roots and expanding the business even further Born in South Africa, Cate originally visited Australia as an exchange student before returning with her family in late 1995. Since deciding to settle permanently she has been instrumental in setting up a number of businesses in Cairns. “I’m a workaholic and love to be busy but I didn’t really find my niche until a local business recognised that I had something to offer in terms of upskilling others in employment,” she says. After moving into the area of training and development she established Dedicated Group in 2005. Servicing a diverse clientele from the unemployed to CEO’s of large enterprises, Cate says proper training is vital in business today. “People often say, why train staff and risk having them leave? My response is, why risk not training your staff and having them stay.” Cate also believes training should start from the top and currently runs a successful Leadership Development Programme incorporating a Diploma of Management. “The results have been incredible,” she says. Despite her success, Cate is uncomfortable with personal accolades and prefers to put the emphasis on her staff. “I’m very lucky with the people I

have, she says. “There are people who have been with me through tough times and some exciting new people who’ve come onboard,” She does however admit to times when her intuition about people has been challenged. “You have to learn to trust your gut instinct and recognise when something’s not working,” she says. One of Cate’s greatest passions is indigenous training and recruitment, for which she’s now recognised nationwide. “By helping Indigenous clients acquire life skills and on-the-job training our ultimate reward is in them finding sustainable employment or creating their own business venture,” she says. She now hopes to expand on her success in Australia by undertaking a community development project in Africa, which is where her passion for helping others first started.

Biggest inspiration My parents for their community work in rural areas. My daughter for seeing only the best in people. Greatest obstacle/challenge Making mistakes with the people I’ve surrounded myself with. Career Highlights 2011 Australian Institute of Management Award (Owner/Manager Cairns) 2013 VET Teacher/Trainer of the Year (Nth Qld) Secret to success Surrounding yourself with good people. Future direction Returning to my roots and expanding the business.

Cairns Beauty Academy Salon and School

Sue Collins

“Our students also run the student salon to treat our clients to a relaxing experience at a reduced rate and this gives our students a unique opportunity to mature their approach to the beauty treatments, best preparing them for their future in our industry.”

Her grandmother was one of Australia’s first female entrepreneurs and is the face of the $20 note. So it’s perhaps no surprise Sue Collins has had a successful career in business that has taken her around the world. Working in beauty salons in Scandinavia, Dubai and across Europe, Asia, the UK and USA, Sue honed her craft under the best in the business before establishing the Cairns Beauty Academy. For the past 28 years she has been passing down her knowledge and skills to help hundreds of students make their start in the beauty industry. She has also been heavily involved in the international beauty competition arena, and hosted the first WSA Beauty Therapy competition in North Queensland. “I love the interaction with students, watching them grow and become successful therapists, opening their own business, traveling with their qualifications or working on the cruise liners, just seeing the success in the outcome of their course,” Sue said. “I also love the clients. You can almost feel how relaxed and happy they after a treatment.” Sue’s career in the beauty industry came about by chance. After 10 years in nursing and long hours in operating rooms, she longed for something more glamorous. She resigned from her nursing job in remote central Queensland in order to attend

her sister’s wedding in Cairns, and decided to stay. “I needed a change so I took a year off to explore different options,” she said. “I always loved nursing but when I stumbled across the beauty industry it felt very natural and comfortable.” Sue has seen the industry transform from offering simple topical skin treatments and cosmetics to medical-grade therapies including laser, LED lights and injectables. But the way in which the services are delivered has also changed. “The beauty industry has moved forward in leaps and bounds,” she said. “It was so introverted, a person would do a quick course, open a salon and work alone, finding it difficult to expand their skills and knowledge. “Now you can use your qualification to embark on a career in spa therapy, massage, or go into your own business but still continue studying post-graduate beauty courses online. There’s also trade shows and competitions to learn more or you can go into studying health science at university to work in the medical industry.” The Cairns Beauty Academy offers massage, facials, laser, waxing and nails at its Spence Street salon and school. This year the academy has 50 students undertaking the Beauty Therapy Diploma, under the guidance of eight teaching staff. “We have a fully working qualified beauty salon with

all the modern machines and techniques to satisfy our clients’ major concerns,” Sue said.

Biggest inspiration Witnessing the student’s accomplishment and successes, it puts a smile on everyone’s face. Or it could be my Grandmother, she was one of the first pioneer business women of Australia and is now featured on the Australian $20 note, which is inspirational to me. Greatest obstacle or challenge Studying overseas and in Australia the new procedures so I could bring them back to Cairns Beauty Academy to train and update our staff and students methods so we could continue growing with the industry. Career highlight There are many highlights in business, witnessing the success of past students, achieving Registered Training Organisation status and maintaining it, taking our students to national and international competitions and winning medals, watching the industry grow and growing with it. Secret to success Grow with changes and be flexible and open to new ideas. Future business direction We have just started the Advanced Certificate of Laser technology and now considering introducing the Diploma in Massage


Kennedys Betta Home Living

anelle J Given


stablished by Horrie Kennedy in 1929, Kennedys Betta Home Living has become a household name in the region. Now specialising in a range of services including sales, deliveries, spare parts, repairs, and more recently rentals and mobility products, it is one of the few businesses that have serviced Cairns for close to a century. As a third generation family member, Store Manager Janelle Given successfully combines a modern approach with the old fashioned values the business is famous for. While Janelle admits she didn’t always plan to join the business, as time went by she began to recognise the importance of her family legacy. So, after studying in Brisbane she returned to undertake a traineeship at Kennedys, eventually establishing an independent computer division with her mother Leonie. “When I began to appreciate the history and reputation behind the business I realised I really did want to continue the hard work that was laid down by my predecessors,” she says. During her time as Store Manager, Janelle has overseen a number of major development deals and received numerous accolades. In addition to being Chairperson of Retravision Northern Zone in 20112012, and Northern Region Representative in the Retravision Qld Sales & Marketing Committee, she was also a finalist in the 2009 Cairns Business Woman of the Year Awards. But perhaps her biggest achievement to date has been the transition from Retravision to Betta Home Living in 2013. “We now have a new range of products such as mobility scooters, and will also be offering furniture for the first time in our history,” she says. In terms of Kennedy’s longevity, Janelle firmly believes it’s about listening to what customers want and helping them make a confident buying decision. “We pride ourselves on our service, and I believe our customers have


faith in us as a result,” she says. “With many employees having family members within the business, we also recognise the importance of being flexible and upholding family values.” With a long-standing history in the region, the Kennedys are also avid supporters of local sporting and community events. “The people of Cairns have supported us over the years so we always like to give back where we can,” Janelle says. In the meantime her plans for the future are clear.

“We’re 85 now and I’d love to see us achieve 100 years of trade, but I think that will be up to the next generation!” she laughs. Biggest inspiration Taking our family business in a whole new direction. Greatest obstacle/challenge Retaining my grandfather’s legacy while being relevant to today’s consumers. Career highlights Being appointed Store Manager, and directing the transition to Betta Home Living in 2013. Secret to success Combining modern thinking with oldfashioned service, plus an absolutely brilliant husband and two very supportive children. Future direction Carrying on the family tradition as the store grows and evolves, plus building the strength of Local Appliance Rentals Cairns.

Cairns Business Women’s Club

k y l i e

gabutto K

ylie Gabutto has launched a unique coaching program for business women, is writing her first book, and leading the Cairns Business Women’s Club into its 30th year. As club president since 2011, Kylie has taken CBWC in a new direction, introducing a variety of new activities and events. Despite her success, Kylie never takes herself too seriously. “The events are entertaining and educational – I have a philosophy that is if it isn’t fun, we don’t do it,” she said. “I believe that business has to be taken seriously but we don’t have to always take ourselves seriously. Boring isn’t business-like, it’s just boring.” Kylie first joined the workforce at the age of 12, breaking down gender barriers as her neighbourhood’s first ‘paper girl’. She admits she struggled to ‘find her feet’ in the business world after highschool, first working for a bank then an insurance company before completing a beauty therapy apprenticeship. Kylie went on to work in administration, sales, HR and project management, and held a senior role with the New South Wales Government for almost 10 years. Ironically she has worked afterhours jobs as both a weight-loss consultant and at McDonalds, and often worked more than one job at a time.

“The common thread that runs through everything I have done is that I always work with people,” she said. “I usually find myself in a role of influence where I need to understand what makes a person tick to either get the job done or

close a deal.” Her role with CBWC revolves entirely around working, and networking, with other people, which Kylie believes is the key to success. “When you analyse the habits of successful business people from across the globe, there are common threads, things they all do,” she said. “Number one on that list, they network and that is at the core of every CBWC event. Cairns Women’s Business Club was established in 1984 by Margaret Gil, now the Club Patron and Life Time member. Kylie joined the club after moving to Cairns in 2004, and regularly attended events on behalf of the company she was working for at the time. But networking made her anxious, and she struggled to feel comfortable or network effectively. It was at this point a board member encouraged her to become more involved with the board and assist at functions. In 2009, Kylie was appointed to the role of secretary – a position she held until being elected president two years later. “I honestly didn’t believe I had what was needed. I wasn’t a CEO or Company Director. I had held big jobs prior to moving to Cairns but my work in Cairns had been very different and a little lower key,” she said. “I pursued the role with the full support of the returning board, which was incredibly humbling and I owe them a great debt for their faith in me.” Kylie credits the members of CBWC with helping her realise a dream that had been quietly forming for decades. “Taking the leap of faith to work for myself would not have happened without the encouragement and fearlessness of the people involved,” she said. “2014 is set to be a busy year me. I believe passion is one of the most misunderstood concepts in business today. Passion is an attitude, and it is easier to find than you think.”

Biggest inspiration My parents, for their sense of adventure and ability to buck trends and follow their hearts. My parents leaned in, long before it was a trendy business term. Greatest obstacle or challenge Learning to trust my instincts, and having the confidence to leave the comfort of paid employment to work for myself. Career highlight Every time I step into a CBWC event. Secret to success Tenacity, keep your eyes on the prize and work like hell. Future direction That can be a scary one to answer because I don’t want to limit opportunities. So let’s just say I have only just begun.


Stella Life Spa

S u z a n n ah

D acre M

any of you are fortunate enough to know Suzannah Dacre, the skin and health specialist many people consider ‘God’ when it comes to their wellness – even the surgeons themselves. Suzannah Dacre is a medically trained Dermal Skin Specialist, Medical Makeup Artist, and Physical Health Specialist, and creator of Dacre Cosmetics and Skin Science – A soon to be famous medical makeup and skin range born and bred locally. She has gained the reputation for genuine care and real results in the region, even successfully treating conditions known as ‘untreatable’, being in demand in both the surgical and rehabilitation worlds. Suzannah commenced helping people improve their wellbeing from a young age, but commenced her professional care in the industry in 2004, when she completed her trade studies in physical therapy and dermal sciences. Once finished school, being a doctor wasn’t enough for Suzannah, so she completed her tertiary studies, and specialised in dermal rehabilitation and physical rehabilitation on a medical level. Her results are one of a kind due to her knowledge, and her expertise is trusted by many doctors, specialists, and surgeons. Stella Life Spa is the brainchild of Suzannah, the haven where she offers total wellbeing care, and life changing results with medical expertise. Each and every one of the Stella services and products are one-of-a-kind, and either award winning or world exclusive. All therapies are tailored medical formulations exclusive to Stella, all organic and Australian made, prescribed to the patient’s needs, to ensure genuine results. Stella Health by Stella Life Spa are the trusted health specialists for lifestyle health and medical rehabilitation, including weight management, nutrition, pre and post natal rehabilitation, acute injury rehabilitation, chronic disease management, youth health, over 50s health, and post surgical rehabilitation. Whilst others train the external systems through diet principles and military style workouts, Suzannah’s rehabilitation principle accommodates all body types, by curing injury, rehabilitating the physical system, and training it to become the powerhouse the body needs to be to achieve results.

Good health also contributes to good skin, resulting in Stella Skin by Stella Life Spa. “The skin shows everything going on inside – it’s the wellbeing map of the body”. As a Dermal Specialist, the only one of her kind, Suzannah works on rehabilitation principle by improving the health of the skin on all layers – not poisoning it. “The days of inducing trauma to the skin using chemicals are over – that only scares the infection on the surface, bleaching it, and poisoning it, not curing it where it originates…” Suzannah achieves her results by improving the health of the skin from the inside through good health principles, then perfects the surface by working with the DNA of the origin dermal layer, clearing the infection, resulting in beautiful skin that has no memory to dysfunction. The other house under the Stella Life Spa vision is Stella Makeup, where Suzannah uses her medical skin knowledge, and her exclusively developed medical makeup range Dacre Cosmetics to transform skins. Like all other stella skin and health formulations, the medical makeup range was formulated using Suzannah’s knowledge, and her in-house chemist’s expertise, and provides the flawless magazine finish that is totally weatherproof, and a divine medicated skin treatment that cures and feeds the skin. There has not been a condition that she has not been able to successfully treat as of yet, in both the physical and skin fields.

“We turn every stone to ensure the very best of results for our patients, an unparalleled level of care. We’ve got doctors referring from everywhere, and specialists asking for our advice, as we’ve successfully treated everything we’ve been faced with that is known as ‘untreatable’.” Many if not all of Suzannah’s clients are addicted to the results her health, skin and makeup services and formulations provide, making Stella Life Spa the one stop wellness care clinic for correction, rehabilitation, maintenance and education.





“Life comes with many challenges and this is what makes it interesting – people have the choice of just going along in life, doing the same thing day in, day out, or they can keep learning and growing. I don’t want to get to the end of my life and have any regrets.”


ife throws down many challenges and how we deal with these defines us as a person. For Jenny Cavallaro the answer to being truly happy and thriving in both business and finding balance in life takes 100 percent commitment.

This year Jenny Cavallaro will celebrate her 34th wedding anniversary, an achievement she is incredibly proud of. When she talks about her husband Wayne, with whom she has raised four sons with while working together and growing the family building business, she is passionately protective, proud and most of all loving. When asked the secret to a long and happy marriage, she acknowledges that it takes commitment. “You have to fiercely protect the relationship and treat each other with respect,” she says wisely.

This commitment is what has helped Jenny become one of the most respected woman in the Cairns community, known not only for her business acumen but also her creative flair both in fashion and interior design, penchant for fast cars and racing and the willingness to let her hair down and have fun with friends and family.

It is this drive that has seen Jenny push herself and enjoy the many successes she has achieved to date. Today, Allaro Homes is one of the most revered builders in north Queensland, known not only for its quality custom built homes, but also its warm approach and family-like team. She admits the company has changed and evolved over the three decades she has worked alongside Wayne, and there has been nothing more rewarding than seeing what was then W&J Cavallaro Builders in the late 1980s transition to Better Homes Queensland in 2002 and finally in 2012 to Allaro Homes.

This need for speed is at opposites to her more creative side, which has seen her graduate from fashion college, develop and operate her own party plan business, run a successful fashion boutique featuring her own line of clothing JC Inspirations as well as help countless clients with their design and colour choices for their new homes. While it is hard to see the synergies between racing fast cars and fashion, Jenny points this out easily. “Racing, just like fashion design, or work, is a challenge. You are constantly looking to grow, evolve and improve what and how you do things. You need to test and push yourself otherwise life would just be boring,” Jenny says. And testing herself is what Jenny does best. Not afraid to pitch herself against the best, Jenny has been the recipient of many awards. Career highlights include being a finalist in the RAQ Fashion Awards, as well as winning the HIA Business Partner Award and most recently the Cairns Business Woman of the Year in 2012. “Winning the HIA award was rewarding as it acknowledged my contribution to our business and the industry, while receiving recognition as the Cairns business woman of the year was more personally rewarding,” she says.

Jenny says it is important to love what you do in your work life, and it’s great to find the things in life that you love outside of work. Her eyes light up and the passion and enthusiasm pour out of her when she talks about racing her supercharged FPV RPEC GT as often as possible. Proudly displayed are the trophies she has won, showing she can mix it with the boys.

There is no doubt that Jenny’s enthusiasm for life, family, work and play knows no bounds. Finding this balance is truly inspirational, and there is no doubt that Jenny sees things differently and that her glass is never half full, it is brimming over the top.


Harleys Educational Celebra ti n g 20 years



“I have an open door policy and anyone can come to me for anything. We are really committed to giving back to the community and giving back to those who support us.” 98

Ask Jenny Austin about her business, and she’ll tell you about the people in it. For Jenny, the highlight of doing business is not about profits or products, but the difference she can make to peoples’ lives – be it her customers or staff. Call it maternal instinct, this Cairns mother of three and grandmother of seven has created a welcoming home away from home at her English Street business - Harley’s Educational Super Store. The inviting shop is awash with a colourful array of toys, games, books, stationery and art and craft supplies – and transforms into a playground for visiting children on any given day. While behind the scenes, Jenny’s office resembles a grandma’s lounge room, with its comfy couches and scattering of mementos - family photos, thankyou gifts and a wall hanging of ‘Desiderata’ – the famous words from Max Ehrmann by which she endeavours to live by. The space doubles as a crèche for her employees’ children and her own grandchildren, so watch your step at the baby-safety gate. An equal opportunity employer, Jenny engages a large number of young people and people with disabilities. All staff are encouraged to contribute ideas and suggestions and new mums are welcome to breastfeed at work.. Ever the professional, Jenny says it’s all part of running a family business, creating a democratic workplace and supporting the greatest asset - her staff. “We are a family team and we tend to attract people who come from a close family or live away from their own family and need that support,” she said. “I have an open door policy and anyone can come to me for anything. We are really committed to giving back to the community and giving back to those who support us.” Jenny and her husband Kevin have taken the same approach with their other businesses, Visual Obsession and Airport Car Storage. Their work is supported by one of their daughters, Kristy, and two of their staff Rachel and Michelle have this year celebrated long service with the company.

Their focus on creating strong, supportive workplaces has led to many long-term staff and business success, which has seen Jenny claim several major awards including Cairns Business Woman of the Year in 2000, Retail Excellence Award, Best Overall Performance for School Based Trainee and a finalist for Small Employer of the Year. Simply keeping the doors open through the GFC and other tough times is testament to Jenny’s passion, commitment and initiative. Since taking over Harleys in 1993, she has grown the business from a store an eighth of the size and a staff of 1.5, to employ 13 permanent staff and as many as 50 during the back to school period. During this time they traditionally serve up to 10,000 customers, making Harleys Far North Queensland’s leading educational supplier. With the help of an online store, that reach is now extending across Australia and internationally. To view the range, visit www. or visit Jenny and the team at the Harleys store, 149 English Street, Cairns.

Who or what is your greatest inspiration? Pat Gosper of the Red Cross. She has given so much back to the community and is still doing so at 90 years of age. What has been your greatest challenge in business? The endless role of trying to secure business against large multinationals can be very hard for a small family business. What has been your greatest achievement? In a personal sense, being married to my husband Kevin for over 43 years and having raised three fabulous kids. What is your secret to success? Success comes from persistence, hard work, believing in your abilities and having the support of a great team along the way. Future direction? To take a step back and have more personal time with those I love.


Venture NQ

imone R o o s


imone Roos is the owner and manager of three businesses, a wife and mother of two. Not one to boast, Simone sees her commitments as simply ‘wearing a few different hats’. But in order to keep the wheels in motion, she wasted no time getting back to work after the birth of her children. Harrison, now 2 ½ first went to work with mum from five days old, while Sam, born in late December, started the day after the pair left hospital.

“It’s a big sacrifice to make, working full-time and not being able to be a stay at home mum,” Simone admits. “But I’m doing this now so hopefully we can all reap the benefits later on.” That said, Simone genuinely enjoys her work. Along with her husband Malcolm, Simone is coowner of Venture NQ , managing director of online trade directory Lady Needs a Tradie and regional operations manager of Training and Assessment Mentor for North Queensland. Having entered the workforce at the age of 14 and worked her way up to her first management position at 20, Simone always knew she wanted to own her own business. She moved away from the pharmacy and retail industries and into brand development, before trying her hand at business development and later moving into the training sphere where she met her husband. Their business develops and manages training programs for industry,

and has grown from a sole trader operation to a team of 12 and is doubling in size every year. In her spare time Simone renovated houses, and soon found herself frustrated by poor quality work and tradespeople failing to return calls or arrive at jobs on time. It was from this experience Simone developed Lady Needs a Tradie – an online resource targeted at women who want reliable and reputable tradespeople, as well as good service and value for money. “Men use it too, but they don’t like to admit it,” Simone said. “It’s been running about four years now and it’s been very popular. We survey the last five clients of each tradesperson and they have to meet, and maintain a high level of satisfaction in order to be listed on the site.” Simone hopes her multifaceted career and dedication to her businesses will one day allow her and her family to enjoy more quality time together on their property in the Tablelands. She admits working and living together can be stressful, as can caring for her children in the office, so when the weekend comes Simone and her family pack their bags and head for the hills. They plan to build a home on their 32-acre lot and move there permanently when their schedules allow. “Before we bought the property, our weekends were hectic and there was no time for family life,” she said. “We knew we needed something else. We work together, live together, and we both live and breathe work. When we’re up there we do things as a family, get plenty of fresh air, run around with the dogs and the horses, and it’s such a great feeling. We come back refreshed and focused, and we have something to look forward to at the end of each week. I really believe everyone needs to have an escape to keep life and work in balance.”

Biggest inspiration My dad – he’s a hard worker and never afraid to give something a go! Biggest challenge How to be a workaholic and have a family. Career highlight Achieving a work life balance and running a successful business. Secret to success Remain focused and be sure about what you want to achieve, but not greedy. Future direction Continue growing a successful business to the point we don’t have to work full time and can enjoy the fruits of our labour.


Bertie’s Total Interiors


V o n

W eisse n f luh

Born and raised in Russia during the cold war, Bertie longed for a safe haven – a sanctuary of peace and beauty. It was a search that took her first to Switzerland before arriving in Cairns 25 years ago – and there she stayed. Not only has she found her own piece of paradise, but she’s also helped create a tropical oasis in hundreds of homes and businesses across the region, with Bertie’s Total Interiors. The self-taught designer has always had a creative flare. Surrounding herself with beautiful fabrics and vibrant colours provided an escape from the reality of her difficult younger years. “Growing up in Tajikistan was tough, it certainly moulded me to become who I am today,” she said. “It was very similar to today’s life in Afghanistan. There are no winners, only misery, Australia is a lucky country, and I appreciate


everything I have here.” Bertie’s first career path was in hospitality, working in the industry for 18 years across Europe and Australia. But after too many years of missed weekends, she decided it was time for a change. It was 1996 when Bertie established Total Interiors, using her industry knowledge to target hospitality clients, offering refurbishments and decorator services for restaurants, motels and hotels. The diversity of her skills also extends to home interiors – designing and manufacturing custommade furniture, refurbishing old furniture, creating soft furnishings and decorating loungerooms and bedrooms. Bertie’s decorating style is unique - mismatched patterns, a mix of the old and new, and everything bright, bold and colourful, blended seamlessly together.

“I love nothing more than clients bringing in an old piece of furniture they may have inherited, and bringing it a new lease of life. Seeing the smiles on their faces is priceless.” While everything is made to the same high standards, Bertie customises each of her creations to suit the individual. “Your home is your sanctuary and how you decorate it needs to suit your lifestyle,” she said. “What works for a young couple won’t work so well for a family with four children, dogs and cats.

It’s also important it’s not something you’ll grow tired of in three months. So my priority is on my client, who they are, and I work with that.” Bertie works six, sometimes seven days a week. But when she’s not working, she can be found at home, gardening or reading, and occasionally travels to Melbourne and Sydney for industry events and expos. Despite her busy schedule, Bertie is grateful for every moment. “You have to be passionate about your work – yes, it’s hard work, but when you do what you love it’s so much easier, attitude is gratitude,” she said. “No matter how hard times get, you must stay positive and work through it. Sometimes you have to experience hard times to appreciate the good times. It is good for your soul, makes you stronger and more creative too. “Surviving tough times also makes you grateful, and I’m very grateful for my loyal staff, my customers who I adore, everything that happens in my life.”

Who is your greatest inspiration Richard Branson, Dalai Lama. What has been your biggest challenge Staying in business and staying successful, always learning and being innovative. What has been your greatest highlight Creating unique furnishings for customers in Australia, Argentina and Papua New Guinea. What is your secret to success Providing great service, listening to customers’ needs, hard work, passion, attitude and gratitude . Vision for the future To stay successful in business, and I would love to be part of the Aquis resort.


WIB 2014/2015  

WIB 2014/2015

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