In 2015, Christine Holgate was awarded CEO of the Year in the fourth annual Executive of the Year Awards, hosted by The CEO Magazine.

Back then, she was the CEO of Blackmores and it was the first time a female executive had taken out the major category at the prestigious awards ceremony.

It was a big coup for women in business across the country and, after receiving the honour, Holgate said the response to it was overwhelming. “The support has been incredible, especially from women congratulating me on becoming the first woman to win CEO of the Year,” she told The CEO Magazine in the months that followed.

“When you are the CEO and you win something like that, as an individual, it’s incredibly humbling – but it actually means something for all the staff. Everybody at Blackmores knows it’s the team that delivers the result and, on the night, I said that.”

Holgate’s career has continued to flourish since the win and she today heads up Australia Post as its CEO.

Since that evening in 2015, there hasn’t been another female leader to take out the pinnacle CEO of the Year Award. Holgate came close again in 2016 after making the list of eight finalists but was pipped at the post by Stephen Cornelissen, CEO of Mercy Health.

Gina Rinehart
Gina Rinehart

In 2017, Shelley Sullivan, founder and CEO of ModelCo, was the sole female finalist in the major category. While she didn’t win (the award went to Michael Ebeid, CEO and Managing Director of SBS), she recommended the experience and said she was thrilled to take out her industry category – Retail Executive of the Year.

Upon accepting the trophy, Sullivan prompted other women to throw their name in the hat, highlighting that their achievements were just as worthy of being recognised as their male counterparts.

“I believe women in business should be encouraged to celebrate their success, especially at events such as the Executive of the Year Awards,” she said. “It’s a fantastic stepping stone in a male-dominated industry.”

“I believe women in business should be encouraged to celebrate their success, especially at events such as the Executive of the Year Awards.”

With applications now open for the 2018 Executive of the Year Awards, The CEO Magazine encourages female executives across the country to get involved and share their professional story.

As well as the highly sought-after CEO of the Year Award, there are 23 other categories covering a diverse range of industries and roles.

The cohort of female leaders to win awards over the years has been small but impressive. It has included the likes of Gina Rinehart, Executive Chairman of Hancock Prospecting Group, who won Chairperson of the Year in 2014 and 2017, and Ann Sherry, Chair of Carnival Australia, who took out Chairperson of the Year – Runner Up and Hospitality and Tourism Executive of the Year in 2017.

Will 2018 be the year that a female executive is crowned CEO of the Year again?

Get your application in today for the opportunity to be recognised among Australia’s leading business executives.

Event Details

Wednesday 21 November 2018

ICC Sydney

For more information on the 2018 Executive of the Year Awards and criteria to apply, visit

Need some help with your application? Last year’s winners share their tips for applying.