SA’s leading entrepreneurs honoured at awards night

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The winners of the 2015 EY Entrepreneur Of The YearTM Central Region awards were announced at a gala ceremony at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre yesterday.

The winners, by category, were:

  • Emerging – Kayla Itsines and Tobias Pearce, The Bikini Body Training Company
  • Industry – Sheree Sullivan and Saul Sullivan, Udder Delights Group & Cheese Cellar
  • Services – Jim Whalley, Nova Systems
  • Technology – Paul Vinton, Vintek

Also recognised in the non-competitive regional award categories were:

  • Social entrepreneur – Dr James Muecke, Sight For All
  • Champion of Entrepreneurship – Peter Hurley, Hurley Hotel Group

The Central Region winners and Social entrepreneur will go on to represent the state at the national awards in October, where they will compete for the title of 2015 Australian EY Entrepreneur Of The Year.

EY’s Adelaide Managing Partner, Don Manifold congratulated the winners, saying they represented the high quality and diversity of the region’s entrepreneurial talent.

“This is a particularly special year for us, as we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year awards in Australia. Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of our economy; creating jobs, sparking innovation and driving growth. That’s why we have had a long-term commitment to recognising and supporting the best entrepreneurial talent from across the region, the nation and the world.”

“On behalf of EY, I congratulate all of our 2015 Central Region winners and wish them the best of luck as they go on to represent South Australia at the national awards in October,” Mr Manifold said.

Todd Roberts, General Manager, Institutional and Corporate Banking South Australia/Northern Territory, Commonwealth Bank, said the Central Region winners demonstrate the breadth and diversity of entrepreneurial talent in South Australia and Northern Territory, a key driver of broader economic development.

“South Australia and Northern Territory continue to grow as highly fertile ground for innovation and entrepreneurship, and the strength of the businesses showcased in this year’s Central Region awards is a testament to the calibre of leadership being cultivated in the region.

“As the principal sponsor of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards, Commonwealth Bank is proud to support the growing pool of entrepreneurial talent in the Central Region, and would like to congratulate all award winners on their accomplishments.”

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year is considered the world’s most prestigious business award and is the only truly global program of its kind, with entrepreneurs participating in 145 cities in more than 60 countries. Over 1,400 outstanding entrepreneurs have been recognised through the Entrepreneur Of The Year program in Australia since 2001.

The overall 2015 Australian winner will be named at a gala ceremony in Sydney on 15 October. The national winner will then go on to represent the country and compete in the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year awards in Monte Carlo next June, following in the footsteps of last year’s Australian winners Joe Davenport and Owen Kerr of Pepperstone.

For more information on the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year program go to

2015 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year category winners, Central Region

Category: Emerging
Kayla Itsines and Tobias Pearce – The Bikini Body Training Company
When Kayla Itsines began to build a following on social media for her fitness tips, she and her partner Tobias Pearce saw an enormous opportunity to spread their message. The Bikini Body Training Company has achieved global recognition for the Kayla Itsines brand through spreading its message of health, happiness and positivity. Revenue comes from fitness e-books, nutrition plans, recipes and merchandise. The company has offices in Adelaide and New York, and warehousing and manufacturing contractors across Australia and overseas. Kayla and Tobias plan to expand the Kayla Itsines brand into more international markets. The company aims to be the largest provider of workout content to the global female consumer market.
What the judges said: Kayla Itsines and Tobias Pearce are highly motivated individuals who have formed a focused partnership. With drive and enthusiasm, they have identified and seized the opportunity presented through the borderless market of the internet. With almost 5 million followers to date, The Bikini Body Training Company has already achieved in a very short timeframe what many businesses don’t achieve in their entire lifecycle. They have the drive and enthusiasm and are totally focused on their own journey. 

Category: Industry
Sheree Sullivan and Saul Sullivan – Udder Delights Group & Cheese Cellar
Opened in 1999, Udder Delights Cheese Factory & Cheese Cellar handcrafts artisan cheeses in the Adelaide Hills, selling them through an award-winning cellar door and to external distributors. After taking over the family business, Sheree and Saul Sullivan grew and diversified the product offerings. They are now selling a range of goat and cow milk cheeses under five national brands. The company has twice won the “Best in State” award for “Excellence in Tourism”. The company continues to refine production and increase capacity. Within five years, they will have a fully optimised factory, manufacturing 250,000 litres of milk per week.
What the judges said: In Udder Delights, Sheree and Saul Sullivan have created a bespoke business with the ability to scale to meet market demand. They have taken a disciplined approach to cash management while maintaining a focus on product quality and differentiation in the market. The tourist industry presents a real opportunity for the business, with the building of cheese caves in the Adelaide Hills potentially attracting visitors to the region at a level not previously seen. To the ‘udder delight’ of consumers, their business continues to go from strength to strength.

Category: Services
Jim Whalley – Nova Systems
Jim Whalley describes himself as a pilot first, and an entrepreneur second. While working as an airforce fighter pilot and test pilot, he saw the need for an independent engineering organisation to test key defence systems and capabilities. That’s when he and business partner, Peter Nikoloff, started Nova Systems in 2000. With more than 300 people and operations around the world, Nova Systems has grown to be one of Australia’s preeminent suppliers of specialist engineering and management services to industry and government. A key goal for Jim in the next five years is to continue international expansion. He plans to increase headcount to more than 800.
What the judges said: Jim Whalley is recognised as a leader in his field, having created a truly global business. From its base in South Australia, Nova Systems is able to provide high value service for the defence aerospace industry worldwide. The business is highly specialised and Jim has built up a team of extremely qualified people to support it.

Category: Technology
Paul Vinton – Vintek
Having built a number of businesses from the ground up, Paul Vinton founded Vintek in 1988. Vintek is an IT consulting company which advises clients on long-term IT strategy and risk mitigation. It provides network consulting, a data centre with cloud services, wired and wireless data and voice services. The business has expanded completely through word of mouth and has over 1,100 clients worldwide. In 2013, it was the first in the world to deploy a revolutionary new datacentre technology.Paul aims to employ over 100 staff and build an international presence, starting with an office in Singapore.
What the judges said: With Vintek, Paul Vinton has developed a business with the potential to become a true market leader. He has already developed technically superior solutions and access to world-class technology well ahead of anything that currently exists in Australia. Paul has a clear vision for the future of technology and is creating solutions which will revolutionise the way networking is done in Australia and around the world. He is at the leading edge, with the business right on the cusp of major expansion.

2015 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year non-competitive award recipients, Central Region

Category: Social entrepreneur
Dr James Muecke – Sight For All
As an ophthalmologist, Dr James Muecke felt a strong sense of moral duty to help people in disadvantaged countries. He established Sight For All to work towards eliminating blindness in Australia and internationally. Instead of a fly-in, fly-out approach, Sight For All trains and equips local eye care specialists and their staff. It tackles childhood blindness and blindness from cataracts, glaucoma and diabetic retinal disease. James was awarded an Order of Australia in 2012 for improving eye health in Asian and Aboriginal Australian communities. In future, James plans to establish an in-country presence in several countries.

Category: Champion of Entrepreneurship
Peter Hurley – Hurley Hotel Group
The Champion of Entrepreneurship award is a lifetime achievement award that recognises individuals who: have a long-term record of outstanding entrepreneurial achievement; have driven the growth of an Australian company, or companies, over a sustained period of time; and have made a significant contribution to their community.
Peter Hurley was a banker and then a school teacher until the age of 24, when he began his career in the hotel industry in Wudinna on Eyre Peninsula. He moved to Adelaide in the late 1970s and today is the owner or part-owner of 12 hotels in SA. Peter also has a share in several other hotels. Peter has been a member of the Australian Hotels Association Council since 1979 and has held various positions on the AHA National Board including National President and currently State President. He was awarded AHA Life Membership in 2001. From 1994 to 2015, Peter has been Chairman of Hospitality Group Training, the largest group apprenticeship training scheme in SA. Peter is also a past board member and a past Chairman of Sip'n Save, he was a council member of the Regency Institute of TAFE for eight years and he is a former board member of both the Australian Tourism Commission and the South Australian Tourism Commission, the ABC, The Adelaide Football Club and Drink Wise Australia.


About EY Entrepreneur Of The YearTM
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ is the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The unique award makes a difference through the way it encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential, and recognises the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. As the first and only truly global award of its kind, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses, recognising them through regional, national and global awards programs in more than 145 cities in more than 60 countries.

The Australian Entrepreneur Of The Year awards program, launched in 2001, is conducted in five regions culminating in the national awards. The program honours entrepreneurs whose ingenuity and perseverance have created and sustained successful, growing business ventures. Entrepreneur Of The Year’s primary objective is to identify, acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding contribution entrepreneurs make to the Australian business community and economy.

The Australian Entrepreneur Of The Year program now has alumni of over 1,400 entrepreneurs who have participated in the program. Since the program’s inception more than 15,000 people have attended Entrepreneur Of The Year events and award ceremonies in Australia.

About EY
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