Christine Holgate’s office at Blackmores headquarters in Sydney is filled with an array of beautiful flower bouquets. She really can’t believe it. “So many of these flowers are from people I don’t even know,” she says while shaking my hand. “The support has been incredible, especially from women congratulating me on becoming the first woman to win CEO of the Year.”

Christine has always had a passion for helping people, and in her role as CEO of Blackmores, she is certainly still doing that.

Initially, I was involved more in a wellbeing sense rather than health, as I am a great believer in giving back to others less fortunate,” she says.

“I trained to be a buddy for a young man with HIV in the UK, and I like to support where I can. At Christmas, I’ve often been a part of campaigns like Crisis at Christmas, and I worked for almost two years at Soup Van. I had the job of combing people’s hair when they came in—they’d often not be in the best state, and no-one wanted that job—but I loved it because it gave me the chance to really talk to the people.”

This kind of empathy and a desire to really connect with people and to create a great environment for them is evident in Blackmores’ culture today. It recently scored 94% in a company-wide study on employee engagement, and Christine says she often has staff members writing to her. “We have barbecue get-togethers here at work quite often, where I give a company update,” Christine says. “And I love that people here know that they can approach Marcus [!blackmore!] and me. I had one man tell me that he loves the fact that he can go to a friend’s barbecue and tell them just how much he loves his job, and he’s never had that before. That is very special to me.”