Australian Entrepreneur Of The Year: from uni drop-out to resort developer

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Thursday, 25 November 2010 — John Spence, the man behind leading independent resort developer Karma Royal Group, is the 2010 EY Australian Entrepreneur Of The Year.

The university drop-out and former rock band manager won the prestigious title ahead of 33 other national finalists at a gala awards dinner held in Sydney last night, which marked the 10th anniversary of the awards in Australia.

Based in Western Australia, Spence has built up a group of 15 resorts across Asia-Pacific, from Margaret River in WA to resorts in the Philippines, Indonesia and India.

Chair of the judging panel, Catherine Brenner, said they were particularly impressed by the focus on quality and Karma Royal Group’s clear strategic direction.

“Karma Royal has taken on the big, global hotel brands and put a footprint in this very competitive market,” she said.

“Typical of many successful entrepreneurs, John Spence has seen opportunity where others did not. Most people would have looked at the global upmarket hotel sector and decided it was a saturated market. John looked at it differently and saw opportunity.”

The full list of Australian Entrepreneur Category winners announced last night are:

  • Services – John Spence, Karma Royal Group (Australian Entrepreneur Of The Year)
  • Social Entrepreneur – Dr James Morton, AEIOU Foundation (Queensland)
  • Listed – David Flanagan, Atlas Iron Limited (WA)
  • Young Entrepreneur – Zhenya Tsvetnenko, Zhenya Group of Companies (WA)
  • Technology & Emerging Industries: Prof Mike Aitken, SMARTS Group (NSW)
  • Products: Henry Ngai, ABC Tissue Products (NSW)
  • Cleantech: Richard Turner, ZEN Home Energy Systems (SA)

Congratulating the winners, EY Oceania CEO and Managing Partner Rob McLeod said entrepreneurs were the lifeblood of the economy, fuelling technological innovation and new job growth.

“This is the 10th year of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards in Australia and we are very proud of this celebration of entrepreneurial talent,” he said.

John Spence will go on to represent Australia at the World Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards in Monte Carlo next year.


Editors please note: full bios of each national category winner and judges’ comments on each winner are also available.

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