This evening, The CEO Magazine has revealed the winners in the fourth annual Executive of the Year Awards hosted by Eddie McGuire, held for the first time at Crown Melbourne.

With more than 600 entries, the awards identify the achievements of aspiring and established leaders in 22 categories including CEO of the Year, Managing Director of the Year, Chairperson of the Year, CFO of the Year, and CIO of the Year.

Winners were judged by an expert panel of highly regarded business professionals including Libby Roy, Managing Director, Australia and New Zealand, PayPal; James Ajaka, former CEO, Nudie; Ron Santiago, Managing Director, Australia and New Zealand, Europcar; John Karagounis, Managing Director and CEO, The CEO Circle; along with The CEO Magazine’s judges, Chris Dutton, Founder and CEO, and Daniel Di Loreto, Publishing Director.

The judges examined the business acumen of applicants on their personal achievements, the contribution and differences the individual has made to the company where they work, financial highlights, and new initiatives that they have established.

This year, the brand new Start-up Executive of the Year category was introduced to the program, set to showcase the entrepreneur whose achievements have shaped the business landscape within the financial year 2014/15. Judging the Start-Up Executive of the Year category was Silicon Valley royalty and most prominent investor in early-stage technology Adeo Ressi, Founder and CEO of the Founder Institute.

CEO and Founder of The CEO Magazine Chris Dutton said since the inception of the awards in 2012, they continue to grow and improve.

It really is an honour to stage an event that is a true celebration of Australia’s leading business talents.

"Many thanks go to the businesses helping to create a valuable awards program. Each year we aim to recognise new opportunities for the program. This year we are excited to hold the event for the first time in Melbourne, a new award Start-Up of the Year Executive category has been added to the program, and for the first time we had eight finalists in the coveted CEO of the Year category.

“The superb business acumen displayed by applicants across all categories is truly inspiring. The winners across all categories are individuals who are working to build the Australian economy. They share those defining attributes of leadership, innovation, and the courage to take risks, and have also shown that they are willing to drive strategic change.”

CEO of the Year

Taking out the coveted CEO of the Year category was Christine Holgate, CEO of the publicly listed Blackmores Group, which is Australasia’s leading Natural Health Brand operating across 14 markets with revenues of approximately $475 million and a market capitalisation of almost $1.5 billion.

In the past 12 months, Christine’s key objectives were to deliver profitable growth for Blackmores’ shareholders; support their Australian brand and return it to profitable growth; invest in Asia and BioCeuticals, secure new revenue growth streams for the organisation; and create product leadership and to drive operational effectiveness.

Under the leadership of Christine and these clear objectives, group sales grew 36% and profits grew by more than double this. The market capitalisation of the organisation grew from $520 million to $1.5 billion, Blackmores has secured market leadership and the honour of most trusted brand in key markets. Blackmores is now the largest Austra-Asia Natural Health Group.

Christine Holgate, 2015 CEO of the Year


Runner-up for CEO of the Year went to Jason Dooris, CEO of Atomic 212.

In 2014, Atomic 212 chief executive Jason Dooris oversaw the transformation of the agency from a digital-only business into a full service media agency, with competencies across media buying, strategy, digital, search, data and analytics, custom publishing, and content.

In the space of a year, staff numbers, revenue, and profits grew considerably. The agency was the fastest growing media and marketing company in Australia in 2014, and is now the largest independent media agency in Australia. Key client wins from blue-chip brands like Dick Smith, Origin Energy, TAB, Progressive Insurance, Nike, and Think Education have bolstered this success.

Jason Dooris, 2015 Runner up, CEO of the Year

Highly Commended

Highly Commended in the CEO of the Year category went to Vaughn Richtor, CEO of ING DIRECT.

ING DIRECT Australia is the nation’s most recommended bank (Nielsen 2014/15). Under Vaughn’s leadership, bank profit rose by 9.4% and superannuation funds under management by 78% in 2014. Vaughn also guided ING DIRECT in transferring the bank's systems to a highly automated private cloud platform, the first such move by any bank in Australia. The ability to think differently is a core component of Vaughn’s leadership style, underpinning his commitment to delivering an exceptional customer experience.

Vaughn Richtor, 2015 Highly Commended, CEO of the Year

Chairperson of the Year

Chairperson of the Year was awarded to Barbara Yeoh, Board Chair, Monash Health.

Barbara Yeoh is an extraordinary woman, with over 25 years’ experience as a director across public and private sector agencies in the health, education, finance, transport, technology and infrastructure sectors. Barbara is currently the Chair of the Board of Directors of Monash Health, Victoria’s largest health service, with 15,000 staff and an annual turnover of $1.4 billion. She is also the Chair of the Audit Committee of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.  Her exemplary leadership in health care governance was also recognised with her appointment as Chair of the Council of Health Board Chairs for Victorian health services.

Runner-up for Chairperson of the Year was Julien O’Connell, Chairman, Mercy Health.

Barbara Yeoh, 2015 Chairperson of the Year

Managing Director of the Year

Managing Director of the Year was awarded to Andrew Stewart, Managing Director, Australia and Asia Wood Group PSN.

Andrew Stewart oversees over 2,200 employees and is accountable for leading, planning and controlling a diverse range of oil and gas, refining, chemicals, coal seam gas and water contracts across Australia, PNG, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and New Zealand.  Andrew has successfully transformed Wood Group PSN’s regional business, securing several notable contracts in 2014 and is focused on further expanding the business in 2015.

Runner-up for Managing Director of the Year went to Chris Ridd, Managing Director, Xero Australia.

Andrew Stewart, 2015 Managing Director of the Year

CIO of the Year

CIO of the Year was awarded to Ajay Bhatia, Chief Product and Information Officer, Carsales.

Over the last year Ajay implemented a customer focused structure (called Tribal Structure) within his team that allowed them to focus on the customer/ business metrics rather than pre-defined projects outcomes. His team also undertook the massive task of rebuilding core legacy systems to future proof their products while introducing flexibility and global potential into these products. The micro service architecture took Carsales from 2 deployments/week to over 250. Finally, Carsales is now commercializing its service platform (dubbed and has already sold it to clients.

Runner-up for CIO of the Year was Mandy Ross, CIO, Tatts Group.

CIO of the Year – Ajay Bhatia

CFO of the Year

CFO of the Year went to Michael Da Gama Pinto, CFO, Swisse Wellness Pty Ltd.

Michael joined Swisse in 2013 as Chief Financial Officer. During this time, he has helped lead the business to deliver accelerated growth with sustainable financial performance. In the last 12 months Swisse has significantly outperformed its business objectives including grown revenue by over 90%, improved EBITDA margins by four times and transitioned the business from a highly leveraged position to a net cash position. Throughout this period the Swisse team has strengthened its unique and entrepreneurial culture including high team engagement scores.

Runner-up for CFO of the Year was Darren Smith, CFO, Sirtex Medical.

2015 CFO of the Year – Michael Da Gama Pinto

HR Executive of the Year

HR Executive of the Year was awarded to Robyn Batson, Group People & Development Manager, Sportsgirl/Sussan Group.

Robyn is a passionate driven senior HR leader with a wealth of experience and applies the company’s business values in everything she does, and plays an integral role in ensuring the company has a culture that values its people. Robyn is responsible for developing and implementing the people strategy aligned to the business direction. She provides leadership and strategic advice on all people and development matters to ensure they engage and develop its team members across the Sportsgirl/Sussan Group. Robyn has met the business values by being a champion for the people, delivering its objectives, and ensuring they are applied in her thinking when making decisions that impact both the staff and the business.

HR Executive of the Year – Robyn Batson
Award accepted by colleague Robyn Casey on Robyn's behalf

Marketing Executive of Year

Marketing Executive of Year was given to Michael Howard, Director of Marketing, Swisse Wellness Pty Ltd.

Michael joined the Swisse Wellness team as Director of Sales, in January 2014. He was then promoted to Director of Sales and Marketing, on top of heading up the Skincare and Functional Food teams.  Over the past 12 months, Swisse has outperformed business objectives, including increased revenue by 90%, improved EBITDA margins and transitioning from a highly leveraged position to a net cash position. Throughout this period, the team has strengthened its unique and entrepreneurial culture.

Marketing Executive of the Year – Michael Howard

Sales Executive of the Year

Matthew Kates, Sales Director ANZ of Zerto, took out Sales Executive of the Year.

Matthew Kates, Sales Director for Zerto has been pivotal in opening up the business in Australia and launching Zerto in Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) back in January 2014.  Since his appointment, he has achieved 5000% increase in pipeline, 600% revenue expansion and secured the largest single transaction in company history. Matthew is a key contributor to the APJ leadership team and is not afraid to play the devil’s advocate to stimulate new or alternate ways of thinking.

Sales Executive of the Year – Matthew Kates

Start-Up Executive of the Year

The Start-Up Executive of the Year award went to Anurag Chakradhar, Founder and CEO, Blrt.

A digital marketer with 15 years’ experience, Anurag Chakradhar was frustrated with the state of collaboration technology available in the face of the global shift towards distributed teams and freelancing. He invented Blrt – a groundbreaking communications platform that enables meeting-like collaboration to happen in an asynchronous fashion. Blrt lets participants talk, point and draw over images, documents and websites in their own time, and provides a high quality video-like user experience at a fraction of the bandwidth. Blrt has been called the hottest startup in Australia in 2015, and is winning awards even before a formal marketing launch.

Start Up Executive of the Year – Anurag Chakradhar

Not for Profit Executive of the Year

Louise Baxter, Chief Executive, Starlight Children’s Foundation won Not for Profit Executive of the Year.

As CEO, Louise is accountable for Starlight's performance in achieving its mission to brighten the lives of seriously ill kids.  Since becoming CEO in 2009 (post GFC) there has been a complete business turnaround with every metric recording improvement. Starlight works in partnership with health professionals understanding their needs and providing support where it is needed most. Starlight’s in-hospital programs are considered integral to total care of seriously ill children and this impact has been quantified through SROI research. Revenue to support program expansion has grown to $30.3M in 2014 (+ 48.5% vs. 2012) with 30% now sustainable, recurring revenue (from 1.15% in 2009).

Not For Profit Executive of the Year –  Louise Baxter

Young Executive of the Year

Adam Schwab, CEO and Co-founder, AussieCommerce Group, took out Young Executive of the Year.

AussieCommerce Group has had a steady growth of revenue since it launched in 2010. Revenue for FY14 was $138, and expected revenue for FY15 is $200 million. The company is one of Australia's largest e-commerce businesses, with over 6 million members and 300 staff. The average annual growth is around 230%. At only 35, Adam Schwab has managed to create an ecommerce giant and a strong player in the Australian market.

Young Executive of the Year – Adam Schwab

Executive Assistant of the Year

The Executive Assistant of the Year award went to Dimitra Zographos, Executive Assistant to the Executive and Leadership team, Western Union Business Solutions.

Dimitra is one of the most senior and accomplished Executive Assistants in the business who demonstrates great authority and leadership in supporting the business and its leaders with national and international portfolios. Dimitra is passionate for the Executive Assistant function and thrives on having a great partnership with her executive and leadership team, adding value to the business and helping people progress. Her commitment to the role of an EA has her being sought after nationally as a speaker and mentor and she aspires to take this to an international level. Dimitra is involved in many local and global networks and is a member of The EA Circle.

Executive Assistant of the Year – Dimitra Zographos

Financial Services Executive of the Year

Financial Services Executive of the Year was given to Chris Ridd, Managing Director, Xero Australia (cloud-based accounting software).

Since January 2014, Chris Ridd’s achievements include doubling the number of employees from 109 to over 200 and growing the Australian management team from five to eight. In doing so, Xero Australia has gained recognition as the #1 Most Innovative Company in 2015 by BRW Magazine and was ranked #16 in BRW’s Great Place to Work Awards.  Under Chris' leadership, Xero's Australian subscriber numbers have grown from 100,000 in March 2014, to 203,000 in March 2015, taking subscription revenue in Australia from $27.7 million up to $56.5 million in the past 12 months.

Financial Services Executive of the Year – Chris Ridd

Retail Executive of the Year

Retail Executive of the Year was awarded to Michael Ford, CEO, The Good Guys.

Under the leadership of CEO Michael Ford, The Good Guys has flourished in an industry that has undergone rapid transformation and change. Michael has led The Good Guys into a new age of prosperity and growth by identifying and utilising industry trends, investing in best-of-breed systems and infrastructure and adapting working practices to accommodate rapidly changing consumer needs. Cementing its position as one of Australia’s largest and most admired electrical appliance retailers, The Good Guys continues to innovate in order to deliver on its mission of delighting customers and doing good.

Retail Executive of the Year – Michael Ford

Innovation and Design Executive of the Year

Innovation and Design Executive of the Year (including Manufacturing) went to Frank Seeley AM, Executive Chairman, Seeley International Pty Ltd.

Frank Seeley AM founded Seeley International in the early 1970s and is Executive Chairman. Under Frank's guidance the business has continued to grow year on year, with growth of more than 30% in the past 2 years. This bucks the current trend in Australian manufacturing, indicating that Frank Seeley’s overall philosophy and leadership of the company has been a great success. With continuing innovative product development (3 new products launched in 2015 and improvements made to existing products), a growing network of supportive dealers and smart acquisitions world-wide, Seeley International is on track to remain the market leader in air-conditioning products.

Innovation and Design Executive of the Year – Frank Seeley

Construction Executive of the Year

Construction Executive of the Year was awarded to Jonathan Hallinan, Managing Director, BPM.

Jonathan’s role at BPM is responsible for delivering the strategic direction of the business and realising its vision through the acquisition of development sites across Australia and abroad. The past 12 months has seen the achievement of the biggest milestone in BPM's history through the launch of BPM’s first high-rise luxury development, Shadow Play. This $300 million development of 494 apartments signifies a new era for BPM, bringing the business’ philosophy of designer apartment living into the high-rise tower market. Consequently Jonathan has taken BPM from purely a property brand into an entire lifestyle brand, introducing a series of coffee houses, hotels, and champagne bars which will be housed within Shadow Play.

Construction Executive of the Year – Jonathan Hallinan

Energy and Resources Executive of the Year

Energy and Resources Executive of the Year went to Ian Murray, Executive Chairman, Gold Road Resources Limited.

As Executive Chairman since 2007, Ian’s responsibilities continue to evolve. His prime objective is ensuring the production of its gold resource in the Yamarna Greenstone Belt in Western Australia, a newly discovered world-class gold region.  Gold Road Resources has been a stand-out performer in the gold sector over the past 12 months. From discovery, to a 5.51-million-ounce resource in under 24 months, the Company is now progressing with a Pre-feasibility Study with potential gold production of 200,000 – 350,000 ounces per annum from 2018.

Energy and Resource Executive of the Year – Ian Murray

Hospitality and Tourism Executive of the Year

The Hospitality and Tourism Executive of the Year award went to Barry Robinson, President and Managing Director, Wyndham Hotel Group South East Asia and Pacific Rim and Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific.

From his base in Australia, Barry leads Wyndham Hotel Group South East Asia and Pacific Rim (WHGSEAPR), comprising more than 81 hotels across 15 countries and five hotel brands. Barry has been the driving force behind many significant new hotel acquisitions, hotel franchises, management agreements and enhanced resort developments across Australia, South East Asia and the Pacific Rim. Under his leadership, Wyndham Vacation Resorts Asia Pacific and Wyndham Hotel Group both saw phenomenal growth in 2014. An extraordinary leader, Barry continues to grow a company that employs some 4,000 hospitality staff across the region.

Hospitality and Tourism Executive of the Year – Barry Robinson

IT and Telecommunications Executive of the Year

IT and Telecommunications Executive of the Year was awarded to David Dicker, Chairman and CEO Dicker Data Limited.

David Dicker is the Chairman & CEO of publicly listed Dicker Data Limited (ASX: DDR). David founded Dicker Data in 1978 and has since grown his operation to boast revenues in excess of AUD$1.1B. Representing a number of world-leading tier-one vendors such as HP, Cisco and Lenovo, Dicker Data is the largest locally listed, owned and operated IT distributor in Australia. In 2014 Dicker Data acquired fellow IT distributor Express Data which expanded operations into New Zealand as well as bringing a wealth of new partnerships which have been successfully leveraged to bolster its position in the ANZ distribution market. Inducted in 2010, David Dicker is a member of the IT Industry Hall of Fame.

IT & Telecommunications Executive of the Year – David Dicker

Health and Pharmaceutical Executive of the Year

Health and Pharmaceutical Executive of the Year was given to David Cade, Global Medical Director, Sirtex Medical.

As Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Australian based, Sirtex Medical Limited, Dr Cade is responsible for the medical affairs of this rapidly growing global healthcare business, which operates in 40 countries. Sirtex produces a life enhancing therapy with the potential to improve the quality of life for tens of thousands of people worldwide every year. Their Australian-invented therapy known as SIR-Spheres microspheres is available in more than 40 countries and 800 hospitals. Dr Cade’s vision is that one-day cancer can be a chronic disease that patients can successfully manage and live with, rather than a terminal disease patients die from. Dr Cade is making this vision reality while educating the investment community to help secure a positive understanding of Sirtex's current and future value.

Health and Pharmectical Executive of the Year – David Cade

Transport and Logistics Executive of the Year

Transport and Logistics Executive of the Year went to Kerrie Mather, Managing Director and CEO, Sydney Airport.

Kerrie is Managing Director and CEO of Australia’s busiest airport, welcoming 38.5 million passengers a year. Recent achievements include delivering strong shareholder return to investors, investing in infrastructure and technology to improve the customer experience for passengers and airlines, rolling out safety training, releasing an Australian airport first Sustainability Report, Australia’s most improved airport in 2015, renegotiating large contracts and implementing China ready strategy. Kerrie continues to work with stakeholders to foster the growth of aviation for the benefit of Sydney, NSW and Australia, including driving tourism growth and delivering a world-class airport experience for customers.

Transport and Logisitics Executive of the Year – Kerrie Mather
Award accepted by colleague Gayle Philpotts on Kerrie's behalf.

Media Executive of the Year

Media Executive of the Year was awarded to Luke Littlefield, CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network.

Dentsu Aegis Network is a $2.5bn organisation: 3,000+ clients, 1,550 staff, 25 agency businesses with six locations across Australia & New Zealand. Dentsu Aegis Network is the largest, most diverse and successful marketing and communications business in Australia. Luke’s philosophy is one of a collaborative, ‘values based performance culture’. Under Luke’s leadership grew turnover, revenue and PBMC at 5.1 percent, 58.8% and 80.2 percent respectively.  The business evolved through its founder’s departure, major acquisitions and transitions, emerging as Australia’s largest and leading marketing communications company.

Media Executive of the Year – Luke Littlefield

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