Entrepreneur Of The Year

2018 National finalists: Northern Region

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Northern Region

EY - Brett AmbroseBrett Ambrose
Ambrose Building
Regional finalist, Northern Region

  • Read more about Brett Ambrose

    Getting the quality right first and then concentrating on quantity is the defining strategy for Brett Ambrose, founder of property insurance repairer, Ambrose Building. Brett and wife Melissa launched the company in 2008, when Brett won a subcontract with an insurance contractor after the Mackay floods. In 2011, the double-disaster of Cyclone Yasi and the Brisbane floods created a shortage of experienced insurance builders in Queensland. Without a contract for work, Brett gathered a team of “subbies”, loaded up ten vehicles and travelled across the State to repair 450 jobs. Brett has invested in automation: using his bespoke app, estimators can complete 12 quotes per day, rather than five. Automated invoice processing pays within ten days, ensuring subcontractors are happy to prioritise Ambrose Building over others.


EY - Jae FraserJae Fraser
Little Scholars School of Early Learning
Regional finalist, Northern Region

  • Read more about Jae Fraser

    When Jae Fraser decided to build his own child care centre business, he wanted to do things differently – offer something that no one else did. The result for families who use the Little Scholars School of Early Learning are innovations such as chef-prepared take-home meals for busy parents who don't have time to cook. There is a free bus to pick up and drop off the children to home, school or work and older children have before and after-school care. They were one of the first to introduce Bush and Beach Kinder, all of this as well as first class education and care. Previously general manager of Australia's largest ASX-listed child care company, Jae bought a run-down centre in Yatala, four years ago. Now his business provides services to more than 3,500 children across seven Early Learning Campuses and employs more than 180 staff. Jae also owns Edge Child Care Management which has six management agreements and offers consultancy for other operators.


EY - Theodore VairaktarisTheodore Vairaktaris
Usher and Son
Regional finalist, Northern Region

  • Read more about Theodore Vairaktaris

    Theodore Vairaktaris dropped out of university to start his own painting business which, over 17 years, has expanded to include several trades. That diversification helped the company weather the global financial crisis, which put a halt to the construction of high rise buildings. Usher & Son provides painting, rendering, signage and decorating services for residential and industrial projects in Australia and New Zealand. It has also developed its own paint brand, Baxta. The Arundel-based company has eliminated the use of scaffolding, using swing and stage and mast climber equipment which is regarded as safer and more versatile, and has developed enterprise resource planning software for painters to take the guesswork out of quotes.


2018 Social entrepreneur

In recognition of sustained, outstanding entrepreneurial achievement the 2018 Social entrepreneur is:

EY - Bronwyn SheehanBronwyn Sheehan
The Pyjama Foundation
2018 Northern Region Social entrepreneur

  • Read more about Bronwyn Sheehan

    It was the sight of a toddler, covered in bruises that moved Bronwyn Sheehan to create a charity that uses literacy to help children in foster care. Bronwyn, a nurse, midwife and business owner, put some of her own money into her new venture and launched The Pyjama Foundation in 2004. The charity is now mentoring 1450 vulnerable children every week. There are 51,000 children in foster care in Australia, a number which has doubled in the last ten years. The Pyjama Foundation Love of Learning Program has won a number of awards, garnered corporate and government support and inspired a large team of community volunteers.


2018 Champion of Entrepreneurship

In recognition of sustained, outstanding entrepreneurial achievement the 2018 Champion of Entrepreneurship is:

EY - Sarina RussoSarina Russo
The Sarina Russo Group
2018 Northern Region Champion of Entrepreneurship

  • Read more about Sarina Russo

    In 1979, Sarina combined inspiration and desperation to open a small typing school with just nine students. On graduation, she promised all the students jobs and she delivered. Today, the Sarina Russo Group employs over 1000 staff and is a global leader in education, employment and training. The Group also specialises in helping people with a disability into work, people who want to start a business, apprentices and assisting employers get the right staff. The Group now operates from more than 200 global sites throughout Australia, the United Kingdom, India, Vietnam and China. A graduate of Harvard Business School, Sarina is a member of World President’s Organisation, Women’s Leadership Board, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and the Clinton Global Initiative.


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