Renee Noble is CEO of Tech Inclusion, CEO and Founder of ConnectEd Code and Cloud Advocate for Microsoft, where her passion for technology, education, and community is at the heart of her professional journey.
Renee’s nomination for Champion of Change was centred around her incredible work with the Girls’ Programming Network (GPN) working to improve tech education for people of all ages and levels of experience, particularly women and girls.
Our judges were incredibly impressed by the phases of refinement and growth of the GPN program, leading to the creation of satellite nodes in Canberra, Perth and regional Queensland, with strong enrolments of girls and gender-diverse children in Australia. Renee is truly living the “if they can see it, they can be it” motto!
Judges Comment: “The work Renee and her team are doing is pretty remarkable. I admire the way they have thought about structure, scale, and using their volunteers to the best of their abilities.”
Abby Phillips is a Senior Product Manager at Kablamo and has been crowned the winner for her contributions to Firestory, a cloud-based data and AI platform for bushfire management that is turning limitless data into life-saving decisions. Leaning into social media and how users propagate important information online, coupled with Machine Learning, AI and data mechanics, Abby and her team have created an efficient way of distilling geolocated data that allows rescue services to predict fire and disaster outcomes more accurately.
The judges commended Abby’s ability to translate exceptionally complex technical data and the enormity thereof, into a simpler UX to facilitate more rapid decision-making and predictions. They also were impressed by her use of emerging technologies, hands-on leadership and contributions to the community as an active mentor.
Judges Comment: “The problem space that Abby and her team set out to solve is truly remarkable. Abby clearly has in-depth curiosity and understanding of complex technical areas and emerging technologies which have been essential in driving to the best outcomes on this programme of work.”
Elakkiya Ramarajan is a Lead Data Scientist at VAPAR, a leading provider of AI for managing pipe condition assessments.
Leveraging her expertise in AI, ML and computer vision, Elakkiya has transformed workflows and decision-making within VAPAR, propelling the organisation to the forefront of innovation. Her work is not only revolutionising the organisation but also connecting the water industry worldwide, bringing efficiency and advanced analytics to a global scale.
The judges praised Elakkiya’s exceptional skills in working with complex datasets and her clear passion for innovation. Elakkiya’d impact has set an incredible benchmark for other computer vision and deep learning enthusiasts to tackle high-value problems in a smart, human centred way.
Judges Comment: “Her ability to describe such complexity in a simple way demonstrates a deep understanding of data and data modelling. The decision accuracy and speed achievements are incredible. They clearly excel in data analysis and were able to overcome data limitations and transform them into opportunities.”
Belinda Lloyd is a tech mentor, Scrum Master and the Marketing Projects SME at Servo Australia where her exceptional work for Downtown Toyota has earned her the trophy for 2023!
For her submission, Belinda’s marketing activity was tasked with driving all parts of the customer journey funnel, embracing new technologies as a powerful enabler to achieve brand cut-through. The strategy involved programmatic paid social advertising as well as Amperity CDP and Salesforce Marketing Cloud to deploy personalised marketing automation tactics that achieved incredible success for Servo.
This was labelled a spectacular nomination on all fronts by our judges. From her expertise in data-driven and growth strategies to her innovative use of MarTech, Belinda has shown she is a leader in digital marketing. Belinda has also shown a great commitment to professional development and giving back to the industry, helping to foster the next generation of digital talent.
Judges Comment: “Exceptionally impressive, especially given the product type, and the complexity involved with managing an online/offline lead and sales process. Her impact will have driven a cultural change as well, which is a utopia for marketers everywhere. Not easy to do, especially in such a traditional ‘non-digital’ space. Truly wonderful, Well done!”
Carrie Hu is the Head of Digital Product at New Aim and Chief Digital Product Officer at Dropshipzone, Australia’s leading B2B2C marketplace.
Carrie is delivering the definition of a digital solution solving a real-world problem that is benefiting stakeholders, customers and consumers through her delivery of New Aim’s digital transformation roadmap. The online shopping world has been a point of real interest over the past few years, especially since the pandemic. Navigating a saturated marketplace and supply chain disruptions, Carrie has lead her team to overcome these challenges with true finesse.
Carrie is also a passionate advocate for women in STEM, mentoring women at New Aim, speaking at events on digital transformation and is a Director of Inspiring Girls Australia.
Judges Comment: “What an impressive project – harnessing AI to improve drop shipping capability is something we online shopping addicts are all exceptionally grateful for. This candidate stands out by actively taking on several speaking opportunities and is a Director of Inspiring Girls Australia – helping to work with the future generation of female leaders to break-free from stereotypes. Amazing work and well done!”
SAP Australia is a market-leading software and technology company with a vision to help the world run better and improve people’s lives.
Our judges were very impressed to see SAP lead from the front with their digital skills initiative, achieving fantastic results as they work toward their major commitment to equip two million people with digital skills by 2025 globally, with APJ aiming to inspire and engage one million learners to further their technology skills with SAP in this time.
The initiative includes access to free learning, up to 10,000 free certifications, and career preparation for in-demand jobs within the SAP ecosystem. Within the first six months of this program, SAP has achieved a 373% increase in booked exams, a 628% increase of exams taken and a 707% increase in exams passed.
Judges Comment: “A great example of organisational leadership and investing in the workforce. It’s encouraging to see tech giants like SAP leading from the front.”
Founded in 2001, Private Media is Australia’s leading independent media company that has invested over 20 years in meaningful journalism with four distinct and industry-leading publications.
Our industry judges have selected Private Media as the winner for their impressive impact as the result of excellent initiatives, partnerships and broader strategy guided by new female leadership driving change and impact from the very top. The judges applauded Private Media’s specific focus on inclusion and wellbeing by working on diversity blind spots, managing overload, setting up safeguards and promoting psychological safety. They were also impressed with their parental leave inclusions, approach to overhauling editorial workflows, partnerships with indigenous communities and others to eliminate nepotism, and improvements to the recruitment process which has no doubt supported their fantastic revenue growth.
Judges Comment: “They are showing good evidence of being a positive role model both inside and outside their organisation. Their approach appears genuine in terms of supporting the organisation to thrive commercially rather than efforts in DEI being a tick-box activity or virtue signalling.”
Fiona Boyd is the CEO of ipSCAPE, an Australian cloud-based SaaS call centre company offering multi-channel customer experience technology with feature-rich solutions and advanced integration capability. Under her leadership, Fiona has achieved outstanding growth and innovation achievements including modernising the UI/UX, completing proof of concept and migrating the ipSCAPE application to the cloud, rebuilding the web chat module and achieving 50 percent female representation on the executive leadership team.
A true executive leader and powerful female leader with deep experience in the digital world, Fiona’s submission was incredibly compelling. Aside from her exceptional growth results, Fiona is also empowering future generations through diversity & inclusion, women in leadership, technology & investment, and emerging leader programs.
It is abundantly clear Fiona has made a significant impact as a leader whose authentic leadership style, courage to lead through uncertainty and upstanding character has transformed ipSCAPE into a thriving organisation.
Judges Comment: “This entry is very strong from the growth stats to her leadership mantra of “Be Brave”, “Lead with Innovation”, focus on passion, empathy, authenticity and communication. She is a true female IT leader and CEO with deep experience in the digital world.”
Christina Hobbs is the CEO and Co-Founder of Verve, Australia’s first superannuation founded by women, led by women and tailored by women. It is the only super fund in Australia that invests with a gender lens that is also ethically screened.
While our other nominees were truly impressive, the judges were incredibly inspired by Christina’s amazing success story and bold mission that is solving a key challenge in Australia. Showing an intimate understanding of her target market and the challenges they face, Christina has built a flourishing community between Verve Super and Verve Money of tens of thousands of women joined by men and non-binary folks who identify with their mission.
Ultimately, Christina’s entrepreneurial vision, strong social impact and exceptional purpose executed with tenacity has landed her the title.
Judges Comment: “Christina is such an incredible, purpose-driven founder motivated to solve a massive problem with a big, bold mission and vision to increase equity in superannuation and provide ethical investment options.”
Louisa Warren is a proud Torres Strait Islander passionate about working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous organisations to create positive outcomes for her community.
Throughout her career, Louisa has delivered a range of social and economic development projects in Indigenous communities across Queensland. Most recently in her role at CSIRO, Louisa has led a first of its kind project – an Indigenous Jobs Map, an Indigenous-led online platform leveraging AI to support Indigenous employment outcomes.
A truly innovative product, this platform represents a solid step towards overcoming barriers to Indigenous employment which our judges also see as a game-changer for Indigenous youth preparing to step into the jobs market. Our judges were impressed by the national, data-driven approach of the project and the insights this will provide to employers as they plan their First Nations employment strategies.
Judges Comment: “This project provides a critical piece of information needed to make positive impact on First Nations employment in an innovative, comprehensive data-driven way. This is truly an innovative product.”
Rebecca Dredge is the Founder and CEO of Kiddo, an app launched in 2019 that connects parents to local, verified and affordable babysitters, nannies and NDIS care for children. It is the first care platform in Australia that provides both C2C, B2C and NDIS functionality, an integration that our judges agreed is a game changer for the industry.
A former Founder of the Year finalist, Rebecca has shown incredible tenacity and passion in creating (and evolving) an accessible, well-researched innovation that is saving parents the time, stress and cost that is normally associated with finding care options. What started as a ‘date night’ babysitting app idea has developed into a platform with over 13,000 registered carers supporting 23,000 families.
Our judges were truly inspired by the scalability of the platform, Kiddo’s growth journey and Rebecca’s passion and genuine desire to solve a real-world challenge with a technology-heavy approach.
Judges Comment: “Great to see a sustained effort as Kiddo continues to lean and grow. I was impressed by the level of “discovery” at the beginning of her founder journey ensuring she kept the customer at the centre of all her business decisions. This applicant has clearly communicated the value their innovation brings with a passion that is infectious.”
Shenal Harakh is a freelance Digital Strategist, a no-code Developer at www.shenal.online and is currently on the cusp of creating her own agency firm.
Despite being so early in her digital career after pivoting away from financial services, Shenal has expertly carved out a distinctive niche for herself in the Australian no-code space. She has built two edtech products funded by MIT’s Sandbox Innovation Fund herself and is now working with startups and not-for-profits in Hong Kong, Australia and New York to develop their tech products.
The judges were blown away by the positive change she is making through technology via her own business as well as pro bono work, mentorship activities and workshops she runs with with business owners to empower them to digitalise their business in a friendly, cost-effective way. Her passion for no-code development and commitment to giving back to the community truly set her apart as this year’s Rising Star of the Year.
Judges Comment: “I cannot wait for Shenal’s plan of running her own agency to come to fruition – she is taking matters into her own hands, and building a future that would be equitable by design, and I am so here to celebrate, elevate and support that!”
Riva Mendoza is an Associate Software Engineer at Canva, an online visual communication platform on a mission to empower everyone in the world to design anything and publish anywhere.
When the opportunity arose to take part in Canva’s FixFest initiative to help fix Canva community issues, Riva volunteered to lead a user-facing project to improve the accessibility of existing features for users. Although faced with a range of challenges including a tight 6-week deadline and complicated technical debt, Riva led her team to improve a number of accessibility issues, collaborating cross-functionally with other teams and sharing learnings to upskill other engineers along the way.
Our judges praised Riva’s passionate display of ownership as an early career Software Engineer, her outstanding initiative, strong technical ability and leadership that came through in her application.
Judges Comment: “Expert Front End Engineer with very deep expertise in their domain. Kudos to Rita for volunteering to lead an internal project, as an early career software engineer.”
Teena Glassick is the Senior Director of Product Engineering & Operations at Skedulo, leading a global product engineering team of 90+ engineers and driving Skedulo’s culture, process and delivery across all of product engineering teams globally.
In 2023, Teena took on the responsibility of leading the development and delivery of a next-generation native mobile app that was behind schedule. Her expertise, determination and persistence to align not only the product development team but the wider business functions across Skedulo helped drive the apps through a successful beta program and release to the app stores. Teena was also involved in two key programs: implementing the capture of engineering DORA metrics across engineering teams and implementing a service ownership model to enhance the reliability of Skedulo’s products and services.
Our judges described Teena as an inspiring leader, a dedicated mentor and passionate advocate for diversity and inclusion. They commended Teena’s authentic approach to leadership, ability to overcome user/cultural complexity, and passion for the industry.
Judges Comment: “Teena has created a culture of inclusion, innovation and collaboration which shows great leadership skills. Passion & personality shone through in the submission.”