Meet our 2024 Entrepreneur Of The Year judges

The unstoppable EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ finalists are assessed by an independent panel of judges, most of whom have previously participated in EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Australia program.

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Chair of Judges

Linda Brown | Torrens University

Linda Brown

A previous winner of EY Entrepreneur Of The Year herself, Linda Brown has consistently embodied the spirit of a change-maker and disruptor.

Linda initiated her career in financial services in the UK before transitioning into the realm of education reform. Contributing to the revival of struggling colleges, she was enticed to Australia by the challenge of enhancing the ‘attractiveness’ of technical and further education (TAFE).

In 2013, she established Torrens University, the first greenfield university in Australia in two decades, and the only one funded by private investors in the country. Transforming into the country’s fastest-growing university and earning multiple accolades for its innovation and culture, it is now recognised as the only B Corporation® certified university in Australia. Torrens' global triumphs include being named a Tier One MBA Online course by CEO Magazine four years in a row.

Linda views a key factor in successful entrepreneurship as having the courage to disrupt (as she has with Torrens, which she created as something of a ‘Netflix of education’ where people can buy what they want when they want it). Another is having the ability to create the highest-quality teams and then giving them space to get on with their work. A positive attitude such as, seeing failure as an opportunity to learn and then moving on fast, is essential, as is having the humility to accept that you will always be learning. Set the highest expectations of yourself every day, and don’t wait to be invited: lean in; be bold. You need to know yourself and what your values are and be courageous enough to adhere to them in everything you do.

Ultimately, Linda believes entrepreneurship is about delivering public good. She is dedicated to ensuring that quality tertiary education and training is available to all, as a fundamental human right.

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Ben Gray | BGH Capital

Ben Gray

Founding Partner of BGH Capital, Ben Gray is an Australian businessman and pioneer in the private equity industry.

Ben graduated with First Class Honours in Commerce from the University of Melbourne and furthering his academic journey with a Master of Business Administration, where he excelled with High Distinction (Baker Scholar) from Harvard Business School.

Fast forward to the present, Ben is now the Founding Partner of BGH Capital, an independent firm, owned and managed by its three Founding Partners. Partnering with entrepreneurs and management teams in Australia and New Zealand, helping build strong, sustainable, market-leading businesses, BGH provides its portfolio companies with the capital they need to grow, as well as analytical, strategic, and operational resources and capability to help them realise their full potential. In doing that, the organisation seeks to achieve attractive risk-adjusted returns for our investors.

BGH Capital is currently investing out of BGH Capital Fund II, with equity capital commitments of approximately A$3.6 billion, making it the largest-ever private equity fund focused on investment in Australia and New Zealand. BGH’s current portfolio includes Navitas, CyberCX, Village Roadshow, TripADeal, For Health, Abano Healthcare, Laurent, Hazeldine’s, Virtus Health and PushPay.

Previously, Ben worked as Managing Partner at TPG, where he served as Joint Head of Asia, Head of Australia and New Zealand and as a member of the Global Management Committee. Ben spent almost thirteen years at TPG. Together with Simon Harle, he led A$2.7 billion of equity investments by funds advised by TPG, including Myer, Asciano, Petbarn, Healthscope and Inghams, and was heavily involved in managing the investment in Alinta. Prior to joining TPG, Ben was a Director at Credit Suisse, where he worked in the investment banking division in New York and Australia from 1994.

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Naomi Simson | RedBalloon

Naomi Simson

Naomi is one of Australia’s most renowned entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Growing up, she wanted to be an artist, but her mother encouraged her to go into business. Naomi is grateful that she did.

Following a corporate career in marketing with Apple, IBM, Ansett and KPMG, in 2001 Naomi took the entrepreneurial plunge and founded RedBalloon, an online experience and gift retailer that has become one of Australia's major tech success stories. RedBalloon is now part of the Big Red Group (BRG), which Naomi co-founded in 2017. BRG is now the largest experience network in Australia and New Zealand.

Naomi believes that leaders have a responsibility to contribute to wellbeing in both the business environment and the wider community. Guided by her personal motto “If it is meant to be, it is up to me,” she fulfils this responsibility by tirelessly sharing her insights, experience and observations about business, innovation and success.

Naomi is known for her positivity and ability to connect people.

A prolific blogger and business commentator, she appeared in four seasons of ‘Shark Tank Australia’ and was a regular panellist on ABC’s ‘The Drum’. She also has her own podcast, ‘Handpicked with Naomi Simson’, which enables her to satisfy her passion for helping small businesses succeed.

Naomi also sits on a number of boards, including Australian Payments Plus, WeebitNano Limited (ASX: WBT), Colonial First State, Big Red Group and the University of Melbourne Faculty of Business and Economics. She is also a governor of the Cerebral Palsy Alliance.

With more than 2.8 million followers, Naomi is by some distance Australia’s most-followed person on LinkedIn and is an influencer on a global scale.

She has also written two best-selling books, ‘Live What You Love’ and ‘Ready to Soar’, and is in constant demand as a keynote speaker.

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Dr. Sam Prince | Prince Group

Dr. Sam Prince

Doctor Sam Prince is a medical doctor, philanthropist and one of Australia’s most accomplished entrepreneurs. In the professional arena, Dr. Prince’s interests span a range of sectors, including not for profit, technology, hospitality and FMCG.

Dr. Prince’s entrepreneurial flair first surfaced when, as a 21-year-old medical student, he launched Zambrero, a quick-service Mexican restaurant, in his hometown of Canberra. This first restaurant was funded through $12,000 of savings that he’d stored in a shoe box under his bed for safe keeping. Today, Zambrero has 270 restaurants across five countries and is the largest Mexican restaurant group in Australia (and the eighth largest in the world). The business has donated over 70 million meals to people in need.

Next, the then 26-year-old medical doctor founded an aid organisation, One Disease, to tackle health problems within Australia’s First Nations communities. A key mission was to eliminate Crusted Scabies as a public health concern by 2022. Crusted Scabies is a debilitating skin condition that is only prevalent in First Nations communities; if left untreated, it has a mortality rate of up to 50% within five years of infection. That the mission was achieved by its target date validates Dr. Prince’s belief in the power of everyday people working together to deliver extraordinary outcomes.

Dr. Prince also believes that access to education and healthcare is a fundamental human right. His humanitarian approach stems from a determination to return the kindness and generosity he experienced from a young age. His inspiration? His parents. Raised in rural Sri Lanka, they broke the cycle of poverty and created a better life for their family through the gift of free education.

Dr. Prince’s numerous accolades include being named ‘Outstanding Young Person of the World’ 2008 by the Junior Chambers International. In 2012, he was awarded ‘Australian of the Year’ for the ACT, and in 2018 he was EY National and Regional Social Entrepreneur Of The Year.

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Téa Angelos | Smart Women Society

Téa Angelos

Described by Forbes as a “visionary on a mission”, Téa Angelos is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, expert media commentator and founder of Smart Women Society (SWS).

Since high school, Téa has been a go-to for fellow students on creating budgets and composing resumes. With degrees in both law and commerce, Téa has worked as a business consultant for prominent global corporations and is also the owner of a digital marketing business.

A passionate advocate for women, Téa is highly sought after as an accomplished speaker and commentator, contributing her expertise to esteemed national media platforms, including Mamamia, Yahoo Finance, body + soul, 9Honey, Channel 7, Daily Mail, and House of Wellness. Her ability to simplify complex topics into engaging, actionable and easy-to-understand steps has led her to create innovative solutions in the personal development space and help hundreds of thousands of people globally.

In 2020, she founded her company, SWS. SWS is an online education and media company on a mission to empower women worldwide to take control of their lives and have the knowledge and tools to achieve their goals. Providing innovative products and tools for women to grow their independence in the realms of money, career, wellbeing and love. SWS now has over half a million followers on social media, reaching over three million people a month with its advice and tips.

She is also the author of the book Smart Moves: Simple Ways to Take Control of Your Life, a guide for going after what you want and creating your dream life. Within her book, Téa advocates for a concept she calls ‘shooting your shot’- a frame of mind centred around taking risks and not giving power to self-doubt.

‘Shooting your shot’ is all about asking the question, pitching the idea, taking the leap. While Téa acknowledges this isn’t always the comfortable or easy option, her advice? Do it anyway.