20 Successful Female Entrepreneurs & Businesswomen in Australia
Table of Contents
Welcome to the list of 20 Successful Female Entrepreneurs & Businesswomen in Australia who are revolutionizing the industry.
In the last decade, Australian Female Entrepreneurs have made a mark themselves in the business world.
– As per a recent report, only 22% of Australian Startups have Women Founders and there are only 33% of women business owners (source: SmartCompany).
It is true that women still have a long way to go before balancing the scale ratio of men to female entrepreneurs in Australian companies, but the good news is that many are rising to the occasion.
As a matter of fact, Australian Female Entrepreneurs have come a long way.
Consider this – According to a report published by PMC Australia, the number of women business owners has grown by 46% in the last 2 decades in Australia.
That’s some insightful data for us.
Time to jump to the list and look at some of the prominent female businesswomen and entrepreneurs in Australia.
Company Name: Hancock Prospecting
Company Founder(s): Gina Rinehart
Year of Birth: 1954
Net Worth: $22.7 billion
The First name on this prestigious List of Famous Entrepreneurs (Australian Women) is Gina Rinehart (born 1954), an Australian heiress, mining magnate, CEO, and owner of Hancock Prospecting, privately-owned mineral extraction and exploration. (Source: Hancock Prospecting)
Gina’s father Lang Hancock, started the company, which she took over after her father’s death in 1992 and rebuilt a financially distressed company.
Today, Gina is worth $22.7 billion and has been Australia’s richest citizen since 2019.
She also has a portfolio of properties and is the second-largest cattle producer in Australia. (Source: Forbes)
She has been honoured with numerous awards recognizing her risk-taking, hard work, significant endeavours, and contributions in Australia and beyond.
Her leadership has seen Hancock Group diversify from just prospecting to becoming a miner and investing in copper, iron ore, gold, potash, cattle, dairy, coal, and properties. (Source: GinaRinehart)
Gina commits to her work daily.
There is nothing like sick days or holidays, as she does not mind working 365 days of the year.
“Gina Rinehart’s philosophy in life has been to lead by example. She has really brought her late father’s company into a fortune by her sheer sense of hard work.”
Company Name: Canva
Company Founder(s): Melanie Perkins, Cliff Obrecht, and Cameron Adams
Year of Birth: 1987
Net Worth: $8 billion
Industry: Graphics Design
Next on the list is Melanie Perkins (born 1987), the CEO and Co-founder of Canva, one of the most prominent tech startups in Australia and the world.
Canva is a design app that allows beginners and advanced users to create attractive graphics without any prior expertise. (Source: Canva)
Melanie and her husband, Cliff Obrecht, who is also a co-founder, got married in January 2021 but have been together for many years with Obretch supporting Perkins’ first startup, Fusion Books.
She and Obretch set up Fusion Books, a yearbook publishing company, in her mother’s living room when she was only 19 years old.
And today, Fusion Books is one of the biggest publishers of yearbooks in Australia. (Source: CNBC).
After Canva completed its funding round in September 2021, its worth skyrocketed to $54.7 billion.
Melanie, who was rated as the 487th richest person globally in the billionaire index, took a giant leap to secure the first position for self-made women under 40. (Source: Bloomberg)
“Melanie always believed in starting small and putting in one’s best, and we can’t help but admire how far that belief has brought her.”
Company Name: Visy and PACT Group Holdings
Company Founder(s): Fiona Geminder
Year of Birth: 1965
Net Worth: $3.1 billion
The name Fiona Geminder (born 1965) is such that rings a bell in the list of top businesswomen in Australia. She is most notable for her association with Visy and PACT Group Holdings.
She is also the third richest woman in Australia. (Source: Wikipedia)
She holds about a 40% stake in Pact Group, a plastics-packaging business with Raphael Geminder. Fiona also owns a significant stake in Visy Asia-Pacific, a family’s paper recycling and packaging business.
Her estimated net worth stands at 3.1 billion. (Source: Forbes)
Fiona is notably rich and can afford any social lifestyle she desires, but this is not the case. S
he lives a life of acute privacy and secrecy.
One thing about her is that she rarely grants interviews, so it’s very difficult to come across her picture in public.
Although she is well-grounded, she did not shy away from leaving a lasting mark in making sure Pact Group thrives. (Source: SuccessStory)
“For an heiress that is worth such an amount to be successful without having to be all out and about in public shows that one doesn’t need self-promotion to be successful.”
Prudence Murdoch MacLeod
Company Name: Times Newspapers Limited
Company Founder(s): Prudence Murdoch MacLeod as a board member
Year of Birth: 1958
Net Worth: $3.1 billion
Sharing the same net Worth with Fiona Geminder is Prudence Murdoch MacLeod (born 1958).
She is an Australian-British media mogul and the first child of Rupert Murdoch, the billionaire media proprietor. She has taken up different roles in News Corporation owned by her father.
Currently, She sits as a board member of Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary of News Corporation. (Source: Wikipedia)
Prudence has made her presence known in the media industry as she is one of the leading and remarkable women in the media world.
She has worked her way up after working in different positions to inspire anyone aspiring to reach the top of their career. And as of today, she is worth $3.1 billion. (Source: Wikipedia)
“We now understand that having a rich father doesn’t mean that you have to sit on your oars and do nothing. Prudence’s desire to move her father’s company ahead has earned her the respect she now enjoys.”
Company Name: White Rabbit Gallery
Company Founder(s): Judith Neilson
Year of Birth: 1946
Net Worth: $1.2 billion
Judith Neilson (born 1946) is another Australian philanthropist and businesswoman that has a passion for visual arts.
Judith was born in 1946 in Bulawayo and was brought up with a strict understanding that money should never go to waste. According to Judith, growing up, they never threw away a piece of paper or string. (Source: Financial Times)
She is very passionate about White Rabbit Gallery, where she is a co-founder.
She also holds a significant stake in her ex-husband, Kerr Neilson’s company, Platinum Asset Management, that she co-founded with him. (Source: Wikipedia)
Her gallery, White Rabbit Gallery, is regarded as one of the most prominent art galleries that showcase Chinese art.
As if that wasn’t enough, she went ahead to start another one in Sydney, Australia, called Phoenix.
This time, it is not only to display arts but also performance space.
Her net worth, according to Forbes, is $1.2 billion (Source: Forbes)
Judith has a long standing-interest in various humanitarian causes as well as in architecture. She has pioneered research that seeks to find innovative ways to provide solutions for housing problems for people displaced by conflict and natural disasters. (Source: Judith Neilson Projects)
“Judith leads a simple life and pumps in at least $4 million into White Rabbit every year to make sure it meets the expectation of art-enthusiasts.”
Company Name: ARJ Group Holdings
Company Founder(s): Naomi Milgrom
Year of Birth: 1952
Net Worth: $795 million
Another top successful businesswoman in Australia worthy of mentioning is Naomi Milgrom (born 1952).
Apart from being a philanthropist, Naomi’s private company, ARJ Group Holdings, retails women’s clothing lines – Sussan, Sportsgirl, and Suzanne Grae.
Naomi started in 1988 as a strategic and marketing planning manager of her family’s business, Sussan.
The following year, she was made the merchandise director before becoming the Chief Executive in 1990. In 1999, she championed the acquisition of Sportsgirl.
In 2003, Naomi bought her siblings and parents out of business to assume full ownership of all the brands. (Source: Wikipedia)
Coming from a family of businesspeople helped in nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit in Naomi.
Before joining her family business, she set up a publishing company for computer books when information technology was becoming popular.
Then, in 1980, she co-founded a video game studio in Melbourne, and when she joined her father’s business, she turned it into the conglomerate it is today.
As of January 2021, Naomi Milgrom was worth $795 million. (Source: Net Worth)
Naomi has received many awards for her service to her community through her promotion and support for architecture, arts, cultural exchange and design, and business. (Source: WAN Awards)
Company Name: Vita Group
Company Founder(s): Maxine Horne
Year of Birth: Not stated
Net Worth: $1.4 and $773.1 million in revenue
Maxine Horne is the CEO and founder of Vita Group, an Australian retailer that falls under Telstra, an Artisan Aesthetic Clinics brand.
Her company is ASX-listed and has employed 1600 people in its various network brands, which has generated $773.1 million in revenue. (Source: Wikipedia)
She established a mobile retail company, Fone Zone, in 1995, which was one of the first in Australia.
Her company, Vita Group, was listed in ASX in 2005 and became one of the fast-growing businesses in the country. It also occupied a position in BRW’s Fast 100 consecutively for four years. (Source: Arete Executive)
Maxine’s compensation as the CEO of Vita is $1,468,210, making her the highest-earning executive in the company.
She has been at the forefront of the company’s evolution and growth to see it grow from just a single store to being publicly listed nationally. Another aspect of the company she oversees is the wellness of the company. (Source: wallmine)
“Maxine Horne’s story is one of ambition and tenacity. Even with no formal tertiary qualifications, she still pushed her way into the fast-moving and thriving telecommunications industry.”
Company Name: Harvey Norman Holdings
Company Founder(s): Katie Page
Year of Birth: 1956
Net Worth: $80 million
Also operating in the retail industry is no other than Australian CEO and business executive of Harvey Norman, Katie Page. Born in 1956, she is a notable businesswoman who earned her position as the fourth out of 50 most powerful women in business in 2015. (Source: Wikipedia)
With an estimated net worth of $80 million in 2021, Katie achieved this through her income, money and assets.
Even with her good fortune, she is known to lead a quiet and modest lifestyle.
Katie has chaired Harvey Norman Holdings for 21 years and has been the brain behind the growth and success of the company.
She also acts as the company’s Retail Council Director and has expanded the business line to over 280 stores in eight different countries. (Source: Gold Coast Bulletin)
“According to Katie, she learned at an early age that failure and the willingness to deal with it was part of life. She, therefore, is never one to be afraid of failing and would not hesitate to get up and dust it off.”
Company Name: Sarina Russo Group
Company Founder(s): Sarina Russo
Year of Birth: 1951
Net Worth: $100 million
Sarina Russo (born 1951) is the owner of The Sarina Russo Group, an international training, education, and recruitment business. (Source: Wikipedia)
Sarina has spent 36 years running The Sarina Russo Group, which at the initial time was just a small-scale typing school. She set it up after she lost her secretarial job.
With the example her Sicilian parents set her up with through hard work, Sarina has tirelessly worked to lift her business to an international business with seven companies, which helps 46,000 job seekers and trainees yearly.
She also is a lover of property acquisition. (Source: Financial Review)
She may be occupying the 12th position in BRW’s Rich Women’s List with her net worth of $100 million. However, Sarina doesn’t regard being referred to as a rich woman as an accolade.
Instead, she chooses to measure her success by her passion, capabilities, and willingness to attain greatness. (Source: SarinaRusso)
“For someone that rose to greatness after being fired from her job eight times, Sarina Russo sure knows what the word resilience means.”
Company Name: Boost Juice
Company Founder(s): Janine Allis
Year of Birth: 1965
Net Worth: $66 million
Last but not least on the list of successful businesswomen in Australia is Janine Allis (born 1965).
Jannie is an Australian businesswoman who owns Boost Juice and co-owns Retail Zoo, the parent company.
She started the business from her house back in 2020, but the company has become a franchiser in 13 countries. (Source: Wikipedia)
Janine’s net Worth as of 2021 is $66 and comes from her business and career as an entrepreneur.
She is never the type to shy away from emphasizing the importance of leadership.
Little wonder she led her company from the confines of her home into the dynamic company it is today.
She began working at the young age of 17 and has worked as a media assistant, nanny, publicist, stewardess, touring agent, to mention a few. (Source: Insider Growth)
“Janine initially may have looked like a Jack of all trades, but perhaps, the experience she garnered in the process has made her earn a spot on our list of 10 successful businesswomen in Australia.”
Company Name: Wright Prospecting
Company Founder(s): Peter Wright (Her late father)
Year of Birth: 1943/44
Net Worth: $1.55 billion
Born in 1943/44 (the exact year of her birth is unconfirmed), Angela Bennett is a mining heiress and businesswoman who inherited the mining business “Wright Prospecting” from his father.
Mrs Bennett is currently the third richest lady in Australia. (Source: AFR)
She now heads Wright Prospecting and owns 15% of Hamersley Iron shares from the Rio Tinto Group.
Mrs Bennett shares an interesting history with another nominee on our list, Mrs Gina Rinehart.
In 2010, she and her brother received A$10 billion from Mrs Rinehart after she was forced to legally handle over 25% of the Rhodes Ridges iron ore mine.
She was first featured as one of Forbes Australia’s 50 Richest in 2011 and since then has been fluctuating at various positions on the richest people list, both on Forbes and AFR. (Source: Wikipedia)
“She earned the nickname “the night parrot” of Australia’s rich list, about the elusive and mysterious bird thought to have been extinct for much of the last century.” (Source: news.com.au)
Company Name: Co-founder of Thorney Investments, a stakeholder in Visy Asia-Pacific
Year of Birth: 1958
Net Worth: $1.5 billion
Industry: Manufacturing, Investment
Another one of the richest people in Australia, the 60 years old Heloise Pratt, belongs to a family of billionaires.
Her two brothers, Anthony Pratt and Fiona Geminder are both renowned Australian billionaires like herself.
Mrs. Heloise built Thronery Investments with her later ex-husband, Alex Waislitz.
Her company, Thorney Investments, owns shares in more than 20% ASX listed companies.
Her investment portfolio includes businesses from gas and mining services to biotech, airline bookings, and renewable energy.
The three siblings together hold stakes in the Melbourne family’s Visy Asia-Pacific packaging business.
Her other significant holdings include 30% shares in Thorney Opportunities and a property portfolio.
“I thought, ‘How can you separate people by the colour of their skin?’ And that’s why I got involved in philanthropy.”
Company Name: Chair of Tesla
Company Founder(s): Elon Musk
Year of Birth: 1963
Net Worth: $1.2 billion
Occupation/ Industry: Chartered Accountant/ Automotive Manufacturing
Born in 1963 in Milperra, New South Wales, Denholm is a billionaire business executive and the current chair of Tesla.
She became Chair of Tesla in 2018, preceded by Elon Musk himself.
A chartered accountant by her academic and professional training, Mrs Denholm had started keeping books for her family business (a service station and workshop) since she was seven years old.
But bookkeeping was not the only thing her family business taught her. Being an automobile-related business, she also got interested in getting her hands dirty in repairing cars.
Judging by her current position, this combination seems to have worked quite well for her. 🙂
Earlier, she worked at the IT companies Sun Microsystems and then Juniper Networks.
Before becoming the Chair at Tesla, she was a non-executive director of Tesla. She had a short five-week stint as CFO of Telstra before accepting her current position.
She was first featured in the AFR rich list in 2021 with a net worth of $688 million.
“Fostering a community of peers is one of the most important things a mentor can do. Get people together, and they can solve anything, whether they’re male or female.”
Company Name: WiseTech Global Limited
Company Founder(s): Maree Isaacs and Richard White
Year of Birth: unknown
Net Worth: $552 million
Next on the list is a woman from the tech world who is arguably one of Australia’s most successful tech founders.
Mrs Isaacs co-founded WiseTech in 1994 and has served as its Executive Director since 1996.
Her 30 years of experience as executive director in the logistics-tech industry is unparalleled.
Before founding her own company, she worked at Real Tech Systems Integration and Clear Group.
Her contributions to managing the company’s administrative operations, accounts, customers, and quality assurance have been crucial to the company’s rapid growth.
“Maree Isaacs has been instrumental in WiseTech’s rapid growth and in driving a productivity-first approach.”
Company Name: Sweat App
Company Founder(s): Kayla Itsines and Tobi Pearce
Year of Birth: 1991
Net Worth: $63 million, combined with her ex-fiance
Profession/ Industry: Personal trainer, Author, Entrepreneur
The next one on our list is a multi-talented young female entrepreneur Kayla Itsines.
She has Greek heritage. Her name might have given it away already to you. 🙂
Kayla is an Australian personal physical trainer, author, and entrepreneur.
She has created a series of fitness e-books titled Bikini Body Guides.
On top of creating digital content suitable for the current era, she has also launched a fitness app ‘Sweat with Kayla’.
Her app helps users plan their meals and appropriate workouts for their individual goals.
In 2016, Sweat was the biggest revenue-generating fitness app.
In the same year, she was listed as one of the 30 most influential people on the internet by Time magazine.
She was featured in an Apple Watch advertisement in April 2015.
“It’s too easy to put things off and to put ourselves last. Take control and make a change if that’s what you want.”
Company Name: Baker’s Delight
Company Founder(s): Lesley and Roger Gillespie
Year of Birth: unknown
Net Worth: $75 million
Industry: Food Franchise, Bakery
Lesley Gillespie may not be as famous herself, but her business is a household name in Australia.
She co-founded Baker’s Delight – one of Australia’s most successful bakery franchises.
She and her husband co-founded the business in the early 1980s, and within a few years, the bakery had spread into 15 different outlets.
Baker’s Delight now has over 700 franchises in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.
She is the executive director and joint CEO of Baker’s Delight.
She and her husband have won many awards, including the Championship of Entrepreneurship award (a lifetime achievement award for long-term outstanding success).
Fulfilling her Corporate Social responsibility, she is a patron of the Margaret Pratt Foundation that supports research into transplanted organ rejection.
“If I have to get stuff done, I just go and do it. It’s all part of that Aussie ethos of ‘have a go.”
Company Name: TOGA Group
Company Founder(s): Charlotte and Ervin Vidor
Year of Birth: unknown
Net Worth: $740 million, combined worth with her husband
Industry: Property Development
Charlotte Vidor is an Australian Businesswoman who co-founded her property development company TOGA Group with her husband, Ervin Vidor.
With a combined net worth of more than $700 plus, she and her husband have built one of Australia’s most renowned property development brands.
She co-founded Toga in 1963, which after a few decades has grown into Toga Group, spread into three integrated businesses:
- TOGA Development & Construction
- TOGA Far East Hotels – operates across Australia, New Zealand, and Europe
- TOGA Property Investment
She first made it to the BRW Rich List in 1997, with her husband, with a combined net worth of $115 million.
The group’s couple of latest projects include
- $1.1 billion redevelopment of the Darwin City Waterfront
- $100 million redevelopment of Bondi’s Hakoah Club
“I was very much involved in the development and architectural side of [Toga]. And having to deal with lots of planners and councils, I decided if you can’t beat them, join them.”
Company Name: Carman’s Fine Foods
Company Founder(s): Carolyn Creswell
Year of Birth: 1973
Net Worth: $100+ million
Profession/ Industry: TV host, Food industry
Carolyn Claire Creswell is an Australian businesswoman and a TV host famous for creating her brand Carman’s Fine Foods.
She laid the foundations for her business with an investment of $1000 at 18 when she purchased a small local hand-made muesli business.
She hit national-level success when in 1997, Coles Supermarket agreed to stock her muesli in their country-wide stores.
She was later picked up by Woolworth in 2001 to stock her products in their stores.
Her brand is distributed in 35 countries, including China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.
On the celebrity side of her personality, she joined Network Ten as a mentor and judge on Recipe to Riches.
She has earned multiple awards for her entrepreneurial successes and is involved in many philanthropy projects.
“You need to be a good people person to succeed in business. It’s very hard to be successful if you can’t get on with those around you and be a good leader. You need good people around you helping you because you can’t do everything yourself.”
Year of Birth: 1970
Net Worth: $53 million (Source: Celebworth)
Profession/ Industry: Fitness trainer, TV host, Author
Next on the list is a 52-year-old fitness trainer who still packs the energy of someone in their early thirties.
Michelle Bridges is an Australian personal trainer, author, and television personality. Born in 1970, she debuted her TV career in 2007 on the Australian version of Biggest Loser.
Earlier, she graduated from the Australian Institute of Fitness as a certified fitness instructor and taught classes at a local squash court along with her personal trainer.
Apart from her fitness-related appearances, she has also appeared on various TV shows, including Master Chef Australia, winning the 2nd prize.
In 2012, She launched the fitness and leisure range ONEActive, which includes hardware fitness goods, footwear and apparel. Her products are sold in Big W stores across Australia.
She has also authored several fitness-related books.
She has an online 12 Week Body Transformation program launched in 2010. The program claims that its users had lost a combined weight of over 1,500,000 kilograms by 2019.
“Motivation is about feeling—determined, enthusiastic, frenzied, even angry—and is, therefore, fickle and unreliable. You can’t count on it being there. Consistency, however, is about doing. Consistency isn’t something that you need to wind up like a coiled spring every morning. You don’t need to plug it in and recharge it every few hours. It is that steady yet relentless journey to an end. It doesn’t require profound thought. You quite literally just effing do it.”
― Michelle Bridges, Total Body Transformation: Lose Weight Fast and Keep It Off Forever!
Company Name: Heat Group
Company Founder(s): Gillian Franklin
Year of Birth: unknown
Company’s Annual Turnover: $130 million
Industry: Consumer brands distributor, Personal care products
Gillian Franklin is the founder and ex-Managing Director of the Heat Group Pty Ltd.
The Heat Group is one of Australia’s leading personal care companies that distributes personal care brands, including Max Factor, COVERGIRL, Bourjois, and her own Ulta3.
She has earned a respectable place in Australia’s marketing industry as one of the most innovative female marketers.
As a company director, she has over 30 years of experience in various roles across the business, sports, the Arts, community, and medical.
She is a founding member of Australia’s pre-eminent women in the business organization, Chief Executive Women (CEW).
“It wasn’t about wanting to be a general manager. It was more basic than that. I’d witnessed first-hand the challenges women have trying to work and have a family, and I really have enormous empathy and respect for the women who cope with childcare challenges, so from a young age, I said, “I want to have children, but I don’t want to do child care.” Gillian Franklin.
As with most things in life, there is still room for improvement.
Women in Australia may be doing well, but there is still a call for women to be more involved in the workforce. (Source: PMC)
The list of successful women in Australia goes a long way, but we only settled for the top ten actively involved in the business.
Perhaps, this will serve as a motivation for more women aspiring to take over whatever industry they found themselves in.
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