In Style + Design

Meet Six Of Australia’s Boldest Female Leaders

Brought to you by Veuve Clicquot

Bold by Veuve Clicquot. Established 1972. Inspired by Madame Clicquot

What do the first known vintage champagne, the first blended rosé champagne, and the riddling table used to create crystal-clear champagne have in common? (Other than the fact they’re all champagne-related, of course.)

All were innovations made by Madame Clicquot created after her husband passed away in 1805 and she, at the age of 27, took over the reins of the House of Veuve Clicquot.

At the time, women could neither work nor hold a bank account, and yet, somehow, Madame Clicquot successfully navigated her unprecedented role to become an industry pioneer.

Fast-forward to 1972, when the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award was launched in her honour to celebrate The House’s 200th anniversary. Now known as the Bold Woman Award by Veuve Clicquot, the accolade has, for almost 50 years, recognised the world’s brightest and boldest businesswomen. To date, it has honoured more than 350 women in 27 countries.

And this year features another inspiring line-up of finalists for the Australian Bold Woman Award and Bold Future Award by Veuve Clicquot. From an entrepreneur rolling out software to better predict floods, to another who developed a platform that matches patients with clinical trials, these women aren’t just impressive – they’re seriously shaking up their fields.

Bold Woman Award Finalists

Kristy Chong

Kristy Chong, a finalist in the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award 2020

Following the birth of her second child, Chong began to experience Light Bladder Leakage. Scouring shops and online retailers, she was shocked to discover she couldn’t find a single pair of underwear — let alone an eco-friendly solution — to solve her dilemma.

Two years later, in 2013, Chong launched Modibodi. Designed to liberate women from traditional feminine hygiene products, the collection includes undies, singlets, swimwear and activewear – all reusable and, most importantly, leak-proof.

Today, the brand has customers from all over the world and supports numerous causes and organisations.

Katherine McConnell

Katherine McConnell, a finalist in the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award 2020

Katherine McConnell had one goal: to make paying for a sustainable and comfortable home easy.

And so she used her industry experience, which included 14 years at Macquarie Bank and a stint as an economist, along with her personal experience of installing solar in her own family home, to launch Brighte, an Australian fintech start-up focused on renewable energy and sustainability.

Since launching in 2015, Brighte has approved over $330 million of applications from than 40,000 Australian homeowners and been recognised by Deloitte as the fourth-fastest-growing tech business in the Asia Pacific.

Nicole Livingstone

Nicole Livingstone, a finalist in the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award 2020

Once thought of as a fringe pursuit played by amateur athletes, today, women’s football has become one of the most prestigious female sporting leagues in the country. And a big part of that can be credited to Nicole Livingstone.

A former athlete – she won 10 consecutive 100m backstroke titles between 1987 and 1996 at the Olympic and Commonwealth Games – Livingstone became Head of Women’s Football for the AFL in December 2017 and promptly set about working on the professionalisation of the league and its long-term sustainability.

Somehow managing to find the time, Livingstone and her sister also co-founded charity the Patron of Ovarian Cancer Australia in 2001, after their mother died of the disease.

Bold Future Award Finalists

Juliette Murphy

Juliette Murphy, a finalist in the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award 2020

Among the world’s many natural disasters, flooding is the one that inflicts the most damage from an economic perspective. In fact, in Australia alone, flooding costs $9 billion every year.

In 2016, having seen the devastation caused by 2011 floods in Queensland and 2013 floods in Calgary, Canada, firsthand, Juliette Murphy created flood prediction company FloodMapp in a bid to lessen that impact across the globe.

Teaming up with developer and co-founder, Ryan Prosser, Murphy initially treated the venture as a passion project, before going full-time in 2018. A year later, the business raised $1.3 million in funding to assist its rollout in Australia and the US.

Manuri Gunawardena

Manuri Gunawardena, a finalist in the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award 2020

Clinical trials can be the difference between life and death for some patients, so Manuri Gunawardena was surprised to learn how hard it is for those who need the most to access them. And so, in the fifth year of her medical degree, she paused her studies to create online clinical trial matching platform HealthMatch.

Since launching in 2017, the platform has raised over $7.5 million in venture capital and won the inaugural Australian TechCrunch Start-up Battlefields. Today, the organisation operates in Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong, with plans to expand into the US this year. And, if running a multi-million-dollar business wasn’t enough, Gunawardena also found time to be a mentor for The New York Academy of Sciences Global STEM Alliance, an initiative encouraging the next generation of female STEM innovators.

Jessica Christiansen-Franks and Lucinda Hartley

Jessica Christiansen-Franks and Lucinda Hartley, finalists in the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award 2020

Jessica Christiansen-Franks and Lucinda Hartley are urban designers who have led the global conversation on urban innovation for over a decade.

Combining the expertise and experience gained from positions at the United Nations, the World Bank, and the Placemaking Leadership Council, they founded data analytics platform Neighbourlytics in 2017. A global first, the platform helps governments and property developers understand the local life in the neighbourhoods they’re planning so they can better design and manage them.

Since launching, the company has created data for more than 1000 neighbourhoods in 12 countries, and was named 2019 Deloitte Rising Star List and 2019 Victorian Start-Up of the Year in the Australian Information Industry Association’s Awards.

Learn more about the Bold by Veuve Clicquot finalists.

(Images courtesy of Veuve Clicquot)

Published 11 March, 2020