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Canberra Celebrates Women in Business

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Last night saw the annual Canberra Women in Business Awards Gala Dinner event at QT.

“Canberra Women in Business acknowledges that our members’ business achievements often go unrecognised and wishes to pay tribute to those women who have put in an outstanding effort in their chosen vocation,” says President of Canberra Women in Business Claudia Vannithone.

The awards and their winners were as follows:


Karen Porter, Solace Creations

Karen is the epitome of thinking big. She started her business at the tail end of a failed marriage. She went from start up to a $3 million business and 2 staff to 7 in just three years. Her turnover has doubled in the last 12 months. She is forecasting $7 million in turnover for this financial year, and $10 million for the following year. She holds strongly to her vision of there being energy-efficient double-glazing in every home in Canberra, and doing her bit to help the environment.

There are additional challenges of being a female business owner in the construction industry – it takes time and tenacity to gain trust and a strong reputation. She is smashing gender stereotypes and encouraging other women in construction to do the same by being a role model and mentor.


Maryanne Gore, Project Lighting

Maryanne is a stalwart in the business community, leading a team of 35 staff across 6 outlets. She models longevity in business, while still being responsive to changing customer and business needs. A quiet achiever, she shows that continuous commitment to service can bring long-standing results.


Rita Joyan, Unbox Your Gift

Rita models courage and authenticity. Rita’s family escaped Afghanistan as refugees. When she arrived in Australia, she spoke no English and suffered from a speech impediment due to the traumatic challenges. 8 years later she represented her school in the NSW Plain English Speaking Awards. She then bucked family and cultural pressure to establish her own business, helping progressional women identify and pursue their own authentic career and business path.


Mary-Jane Liddicoat, Polit Bar

Mary-Jane demonstrates guts and gumption. In a whirlwind, with no previous experience, she started a bar that has become an intimate entertainment destination. She has also leapt into a leadership role by becoming President of the Manuka Business Association with the intention of reinvigorating the Manuka precinct.


Jenni Tarrant, Bond Hair Religion

Jenni exemplifies spirit and contribution. She overcame her own experience of child abuse and has transformed her life and others as a result. Her business is a regular sponsor for many charities that focus on supporting abuse victims. She walked the Kokoda track in 2013 for Bravehearts, raising $15,000, and Kilimanjaro is her next target.

The annual awards serve to encourage, acknowledge and reward valuable contributions and outstanding achievements, focus on small to medium size businesses and individuals providing leadership and initiative, and enhance the social, economic, commercial and environmental prosperity of the Canberra region.

“The night was the culmination of a very successful year for the organisation,” says Claudia.

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