The overarching theme of the 12th annual The CEO Magazine Executive of the Year Awards event seemed to be that after several years in the wilderness, the team effort is back in force.
“I dedicate this award to my team,” Winning Group CEO John Winning said after taking out the award for CEO of the Year – A$100m+ in front of a packed house at The Star Sydney on Thursday night.
“A wise man once told me, ‘You’re either a generalist or a specialist,’” he said. “I think if I’ve got a specialty, it’s in selecting an amazing team of people around me to help our business be the amazing generalized business it is.”
True to his name, Winning took the night’s major award over runner-up Michael Rebelo, CEO of Publicis Groupe, and Endeavour Energy CEO Guy Chalkley, who was highly commended.
“I wouldn’t be a leader without having a team of amazing humans to lead,” Winning said.
“I wouldn’t be a leader without having a team of amazing humans to lead.” – John Winning
The winner of CEO of the Year – A$20-100m award, Initiative Australia CEO Melissa Fein, echoed the sentiments.
“It has been an incredible journey over the last few years, and I’ve built such a world-class team,” she said as she accepted the award. “My team isn’t in the room tonight, but I’ll be sharing this moment with them tomorrow.”
The team-ups began earlier in the evening as Australia’s business elite converged on The Star Event Centre to celebrate the accomplishments of their peers.
A sleek lime green McLaren Artura hybrid supercar drew crowds eager to observe the next generation of electric sports vehicles, while ARIA-nominated concert pianist Van-Anh Nguyen reinterpreted pop hits on a Roland Digital Grand. The 360-degree photo booth was an amusing highlight, with hundreds of attendees eager to step up and be captured from all angles.
As the ceremony began, guests enjoyed entrees while emcee Larry Emdur introduced the evening’s entertainment, including world-renowned musician James Morrison and DJ Emma Peters.
“It has been an incredible journey over the last few years, and I’ve built such a world-class team.” – Melissa Fein
The CEO Magazine Founder Chris Dutton shared his thoughts on the year in business before the announcement of a series of lucky door prizes, including a Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer, five nights at a Tritons Retreat Palm Cove, tickets to an AFL event with NFL legend Tom Brady, two Signature Class round trip tickets from Australia to Canada flying Air Canada, a Hogan Personality Assessment and a Sydney Harbour skiff experience for two as well as a queen-size bed from mattress manufacturer A.H. Beard.
At the rear of the event space, a sample of A.H. Beard’s quality wares was an eye-catching standout.
On With the Show
In a ballroom illuminated by deep blues and purples, the announcements of the CEO of the Year winners began before an audience buzzing with excitement.
Honey Insurance CEO and Founder Richard Joffe accepted the award for Entrepreneur of the Year from Hejaz Financial Services CEO Hakan Ozyon, before Evacovation Founder Rashid Khan scored the award for Startup Executive of the Year.
The Young Executive of the Year award was taken out by Alexander Graham, Head of Environmental, Social and Governance at MoneyMe Financial Group.
James Morrison’s multi-instrumental set, including a spectacular simultaneous performance on trumpet and Roland Grand Piano, eased the anticipation surrounding the awards yet to be announced.
After a sumptuous dinner set to a soundscape by DJ Emma Peters, Larry Emdur announced the lucky door prize winners and the next round of award recipients were announced.
Starlight Children’s Foundation CEO and Executive Director Louise Baxter took home the Not-for-profit Executive of the Year gong, while PARC Engineering Managing Director Daniel Debattista was named Managing Director of the Year.
“Over my career, I’ve learned that by thinking outside the box, leading the way and bringing the right people together, extraordinary things can be achieved.” – Michelle Haber
Children’s Cancer Institute Executive Director Professor Michelle Haber received the Lifetime Achievement Award, co-presented by last year’s winner, OzHarvest Founder Ronni Kahn, and The CEO Magazine Co-Founder and Executive Director Anna Dutton.
“I’ve been privileged previously to receive accolades for my research, but to receive an award as a CEO is a first, and I’m very proud,” Haber told the audience.
“We’ve demonstrated the power of doctors and scientists working together, and this is the way of the future not just in the treatment of childhood cancer, but in adult cancer and other diseases as well,” she said.
“Over my career, I’ve learned that by thinking outside the box, leading the way and bringing the right people together, extraordinary things can be achieved.”
As the night’s ebullience and team spirit rolled on, her words rang true.