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Celebrating 25 years of the Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network

People

Celebrating 25 years of the Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network

Take a deep dive into the past, present and future of a diverse group that has become part of the intrinsic fabric of Coast life and leadership.

This year, the Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network recognises 25 years of empowering, connecting and celebrating women in business as an incorporated, not-for-profit organisation.

To mark the occasion, the network is sharing insights into its history and hopes for the future.

From humble beginnings as Women in the Workforce that began around a kitchen table in 1992, the 300-plus strong group of women now known as the Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network (SCBWN) was officially incorporated in 1998 and continues to celebrate and empower women in business across our region and beyond.

Bebe Mawer was at the helm of Women in the Workforce from its inception up until 1994, before Jan Revill took over in 1994, with Leanne Cannon taking the reins from 1995 until 1996.

When Celena Ross joined Women in the Workforce in 1992, she enjoyed attending lunches and connecting with other small business women. In 1994, she became an integral and active part of the committee before becoming president.

Ms Ross sparked a new wave of progression, including the incorporation of the group and the change of name, which saw the Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network officially born.

“I’m proud of the foundations I worked hard to create over the two years before turning it into the Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network by increasing membership, publicity and buy-in from all levels of government and media,” Ms Ross says.

After three years as president, Ms Ross was succeeded by Michelle Hamer in 2000. Ms Hamer was awarded life membership in 2007 and this year is also celebrating 14 years as Judging Chair of the Sunshine Coast Business Women of the Year Awards.

Karen Neuendorf took over the presidency in 2002 and was recently awarded an Order of Australia for her achievements.

During her time as president, the SCBWN grew significantly and also began supporting the University of the Sunshine Coast students through an annual bursary that continues to this day.

Then, 2008 saw Sue Willis become president and her dynamic leadership left a lasting legacy of empowerment and community among Sunshine Coast business women. At the time, Ms Willis led a local print media publication and continued to raise the profile of the network.

Michalle Faulkner was announced president in 2012, and during her tenure, she oversaw the thriving expansion of the mentoring program.

Additionally, a collaborative leadership initiative was launched in partnership with the Sunshine Coast Council and the SCBWN.

As president in 2015, Vickie Magic introduced a fresh, creative approach to the network.

Her emphasis was on encouraging, enticing and exciting female business women on the Sunshine Coast with a supportive environment where they could uplift and inspire one another, steering away from the trap of comparison.

Ms Magic took a hands-on approach to her presidency and would actively hit the streets to support and grow the network.

As president from 2018 to 2021, Roz White enhanced the network’s partnership with the University of the Sunshine Coast, leading to a collaboration that resulted in the development of MBA pathway programs.

In addition, Ms White also strengthened the structure of the leadership team, committee portfolio and reporting structures to optimise efficiency and streamline operations. Ms White provided a strength to her presidency that continued the leadership position SCBWN has taken within the wider business community.

Twenty-five years, 11 presidents and many committee members since it began, the SCBWN has earned its place as a Sunshine Coast stalwart, deeply entrenched in the fabric of the community.

Current SCBWN president Min Swan has centred her term around nurturing a supportive environment for women at every point in their journey.

Her primary commitment lies in advancing inclusivity and collaboration to ensure comprehensive support for women in various stages of their business or career endeavours.

Staying true to empowering and celebrating women, Ms Swan is focused on encouraging all genders to work together to close the divide, as well as inspiring more women to get involved in regional issues of all origins.

She now proudly leads the network through this milestone year, recognising and paying respect to those who have previously held her role, valuing their unique qualities and their significant contributions to the Network.

“The strength of SCBWN is a testament to the power of community and the importance of supporting and uplifting one another,” Ms Swan says.

“The past 25 years could not have been possible without our dedicated group of volunteers who have made up our executive committee over the years, and the amazing members who volunteer their time in support of the network.

“The success of the network is attributed to the vision and dedication of our past presidents and their respective committees.

“Each leader has brought a unique perspective and skill set to the role, shaping the direction of the group and building on the work of those who came before them.

“Through their leadership, these phenomenal women have helped to establish our mission, values and culture, and have fostered an environment where women can celebrate, connect, learn and grow.”

SCBWN History

1992 – 1994 President: Bebe Mawer, Women in the Workforce

1994 President: Jan Revill, Women in the Workforce

1995 – 1996 President: Leanne Cannon, Women in the Workforce

1997 – 1999 President: Celena Ross (Women in the Workforce became the Sunshine Coast Business Women’s Network in 1998)

2000 – 2003 President: Michelle Hamer

2003 – 2007 President: Karen Neuendorf

2008 – 2011 President: Sue Willis

2012 – 2014 President: Michalle Faulkner

2015 – 2017 President: Vickie Magic

2018 – 2021 President: Roz White

2022 – present President: Min Swan.

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