Tough job for judges
Words by Janie Barton
Choosing the winners of the recent Cairns Business Women’s Club awards was no easy feat for the judges this year, according to CBWC president Krista Watkins.
“The caliber of entrants was absolutely incredible,” she said. “There are so many unique contributions that these women are making to business in our Cairns community. Many categories were deliberated for hours by the judges, who said it was a shame there could only be one winner because all the finalists were just remarkable.”
Krystle Tokunai, owner and founder of Tokunai Hair Spa, was named the Businesswomen of the Year. Krystle, who has been in hairdressing for 22 years and a business owner for 14 years, believes you should do everything you love or not at all.
Vanessa Allen won the Small Business of the Year accolade owner of Adhesive Communication and has years of experience in PR, brand managing and television producing, and she strives on creating marketing strategies that are successful for her clients.
Nicola Bakker was awarded the Michelle Commins Legacy Award. She has dedicated many years to working for the not-for-profit sector, which is why she opened her own charity Moyamoya Australia to support others with Moyamoya disease.
The Indigenous Businesswomen of the Year was awarded to Tahlia O’Brien, owner and operator of Kukubaka, a FNQ business that supports awareness, education and empowerment of First Nation’s people, history and culture.
“I think these awards are incredible for anyone in any phase of their business life because it really does force you to take stock of your life and reflect on yourself as a person, your business style and what you’re doing as a leader, and that’s really important,” President Watkins added.
Sarah Debono, owner of SILK Laser Clinic Cairns, was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year; Janet McIntyre from My Pathway was awarded the Manager in Business of the Year award and Sandy Davies of HappyPause was named Sole Entrepreneur of the Year.
CBWC president Watkins said 270 people attended the awards, more than a 60 per cent increase from last year’s attendance.
“I think being a part of the CBWC is a great opportunity for women,” she said. “The biggest benefit of being a member is actually having a support network around you who understand and who you can call on when needed. It’s a really strong network of support.
“Sometimes our lives get out of alignment juggling work and family life, and we need the right people around us to get us back on track. I believe the CBWC community does exactly that. It’s about having a large circle of friends and people who you can call on for support.”
Filling out the awards nomination forms were quite in depth and gave the women a chance to really look at what they have achieved.
“Being nominated is quite a process,” President Watkins said. “It’s not about popping in a nomination and someone gets picked. We have a half-day workshop where we have all sorts of professionals there to help them and offer advice.”
Janet McIntyre, winner of the Manager in Business of the Year award, was nominated by one of her staff members.
“I just assumed I’d get an email to say if I won or not,” she laughed. “It was quite a substantial process. I struggle to talk about myself, but the process made me realise what I have achieved, and that I’ve done okay.”
The 2022 awards had 270 people attending, more than 60 who attended last year’s event, and almost 80 nominations.
The CBWC officially opened in 1985 with a vision to improve the profile of women in business in Cairns. The awards started soon after with less categories that are currently awarded, with Robyn Stewart winning the inaugural Business Owner Award.
“The Awards Gala Ball is a calendar event that people look forward to, and we truly didn’t disappoint this year,” President Watkins added.