Now into its 22nd cycle, EY’s global Entrepreneur of the Year program is one of the world’s most prestigious prizes recognising the achievements of business founders. Australia’s national finalists have now been revealed.
Professional services firm Ernst & Young has revealed its regional finalists for this year’s EY Entrepreneur of the Year program, with the Australian winner to be announced at the end of March ahead of the world final in Monaco later in the year.
The eight founders and CEOs selected for the competition will be looking to emulate Moose Toys chief executive Manny Stul, who remains Australia’s sole global winner since the competition was established in 2001.
Among the finalists are the brains behind a number of prominent Australian businesses, including Brooks Hire and Chemist Warehouse – founded respectively by Doug Brooks and Jack Gance, who have both been active in their industries since the 70s. On the other side of the ledger, nominees Andrew Barnes and Chris Eigeland co-founded workplace training platform Go1 in just 2015, since then growing it into the world’s largest curated eLearning library.
Joining them are John Winning of online retailer Winning Group, and online marketplace entrepreneur Sean Senvirtne, with Woolworths recently picking up an 80% stake in his MyDeal.com.au platform in a deal valuing it at more than $270 million. Rounding out the finalists are two women working in the disability employment and support space; Arriba Group founder and CEO Marcella Romero, and Claire Wittwer Smith, who established My Plan Manager.
Commenting on the latest cohort of finalists, EY Private Oceania managing partner Justin Howse, who heads up the Entrepreneur of the Year program in Australia, said; “Entrepreneurs create change through their unique vision of how the world can be, driven by an unwavering commitment to bringing their ideas to life. Through sharing their stories and celebrating their incredible achievements, we help bring the art of entrepreneurship to life.”
The finalists will now compete to represent Australia in the global final against entrepreneurs from more than 60 countries worldwide, assessed by a judging panel featuring Linda Brown, the CEO of Torrens University who won last year’s edition, and Greencross founder Glen Richards, who featured as a panelist on the investment pitch television show Shark Tank. In addition to business acumen, the candidates will be assessed in areas such as ESG and diversity & inclusion.
Alongside Brown, other Australian title winners include Atlassian co-founders Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes – now two of Australia’s richest men – Andrew Bassat of jobs site SEEK, Greg Roebuck of Carsales.com, and Jo Horgan, founder of cosmetics and beauty retailer Mecca – which has previously been named as the country’s favourite brand for customer experience.
The global title last year went to Argentinian Gaston Taratuta, the founder of digital advertising company Aleph.