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2020 NSW Pearcey Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Online – via Zoom      Tuesday 13 October 2020; from 5:00pm AEDT

The winner of the NSW State Award, the 22nd ICT Entrepreneur of the Year, will be announced on Tuesday 13 October from 5:00pm, with keynote address from Mary O’Kane AC.

The presentation will follow a special Pearcey National event Celebrating Women’s contribution to Australia’s digital age, being held online as part of Ada Lovelace Day – 3:00pm – 5:00pm AEDT, with the support of the Tech Girls Movement Foundation.

In the spirit of the day, the afternoon’s celebrations will continue with an enlightening panel discussion with past NSW Pearcey Award Winners and Hall of Famers including: Emma Lo Russo (2016), Dr Silvia Pfeiffer (2005 & 2018), Dr Catriona Wallace (2015) and Jennifer Zanich (2013); moderated by Jo Burston (2012).

The NSW Pearcey Entrepreneur Award recognises a NSW person in “mid career”, who is already a successful Tech Entrepreneur, and who has the potential to succeed further. The criteria are centred around taking a risk, making a difference and being an inspiration.

The idea is to embrace all those younger professionals in the ICT sector and not exclude anyone. The individual should be one who will act as a role model for others to acknowledge and hopefully emulate.

Congratulations to the 2020 NSW Award Finalists!

2020 NSW Award Finalists

Jamila Gordon
Jamila Gordon
Founder & CEO, Lumachain
Jamila Gordon is CEO and Founder of Lumachain, an AI-based technology platform that disrupts food supply chains, globally. She is one of Australia’s most respected digital and technology leaders. In 2018, Jamila was selected by Microsoft to be their global Awardee in the International Women Entrepreneurship Challenge.

Her background includes roles as Group Chief Information Officer of Qantas Airways and Leighton Holdings/CIMIC, and prior to this, as a global executive with IBM based in Europe, leading some of IBM’s largest transformational ‘mega-deals’ with Solectron Manufacturing, AXA Insurance and ABN AMRO Bank.

Jamila has a deep understanding of the corporate world from both a technology and business perspective, and an extensive network spanning the business, technology, start-up and VC worlds, both in Australia and globally.

Jamila’s professional success is made more remarkable by her personal story. She arrived in Australia at the age of 18 having escaped the Somali civil war alone and being virtually homeless in Kenya. Upon arriving in Australia, Jamila began a nine-month course in English at a TAFE college in St George, Sydney before moving to the Gymea campus to complete a diploma in accounting. She then went on to study a Bachelor of Accounting at La Trobe, where she found her passion for programming and IT. She served on the Board of La Trobe University for five years. She currently sits on the Council for Questacon, Australia’s National Science and Technology Centre.

Carolyn Mee
Carolyn Mee
Founder & CEO, Sound Scouts
In 2011, following a successful career in media, Carolyn Mee set her sights on improving access to children’s hearing screening. Securing funding from the NSW government and in collaboration with the National Acoustic Laboratories, the research arm of Hearing Australia, Carolyn established Sound Scouts – a digital, game based solution to detect hearing loss in children.

Sound Scouts was selected as one of the Tech23 in 2014, taking out the REA Digital Disruptor award. In 2015 Carolyn secured a NSW Medical Devices Fund Grant for $1.1million to enable the continued development and commercialisation of Sound Scouts. In 2016 Carolyn was recognised as one of the AFR Westpac 100 Women of Influence in the innovation category and Sound Scouts won Gold at the Australian Computer Society Digital Disruptor Awards.

In March 2017 Carolyn represented Australia at the SXSW Accelerator Pitch Event in Austin, Texas winning the Health and Wearables category. Carolyn was also nominated as a Finalist in the Innovation category for the 2017 XBOX Women in Games Awards and in November Sound Scouts won Best Start-Up in the Data Innovation Awards.

Awards are fabulous but Carolyn says the best prize is being able to change the life of a child by detecting a hearing loss that may have prevented them from realising their potential.

Joshua Ross & Adam McCurdie
Joshua Ross & Adam McCurdie
Co-founders, Humantix
Driven, analytical and creative, Adam McCurdie and Joshua Ross are some of Australia’s most successful social entrepreneurs under the age of 35.

They are the co-founders and co-managing directors of the social enterprise Humanitix, which is now selling in excess of $30m in tickets per annum, disrupting the online ticketing industry and redirecting hundreds of thousands of dollars in ‘annoying’ booking fees to help end global poverty and education gaps. Humanitix is one of the world’s leading technology social enterprises. Adam and Josh recently represented Australia on full scholarship at the Social Enterprise World Forum, and in 2018, Humanitix secured funding from one of Australia’s most successful tech stories, Atlassian as well as the NSW Government.

Adam and Josh were Runner-Up Social Entrepreneurs of the year in 2017 and finalists for the NSW Young Achiever Award 2018. In 2018, Humanitix was announced a Top 20 Westpac Business of Tomorrow and Adam and Josh are being mentored by John Eales (most successful Wallabies captain). Humanitix is the first Australian Social Enterprise publicly backed by Grameen Australia.

Prior to co-founding Humanitix, Josh had a highly successful 7 year career at Watermark Funds Management, one of Australia’s leading hedge funds which was nominated for Hedge Fund of the year twice during Josh’s time at the firm. Josh, hired at the age of 20, was offered partnership at the age of 26, testament to an outstanding track-record in both investing and short-selling. As a Chartered Financial Analyst, Josh has an unusually strong commercial background for a leader in the social enterprise sector with in-depth experience in global stock markets, long-short equities trading, and IPO’s.

Adam had a highly successful career at Accenture, one of the world’s leading management consultancies. Adam managed digital transformations of several ASX 200 companies. As an Engineer and Masters in Agricultural Economics Adam has an unusually strong commercial background for a leader in the social enterprise sector with in-depth experience in technology, economics and strategy.

Anna Wright
Anna Wright
Co-Founder & CEO, BindiMaps
Launched in January 2017, BindiMaps is an award-winning smart cities technology startup, bringing accessibility to people and places currently out of bounds for people who are vision impaired. By providing a navigation tool that works where traditional GPS does not – inside major public precincts such as university campuses, airports, shopping malls and office buildings – BindiMaps offers increased convenience for most, while fundamentally changing the lives of people with a vision impairment, allowing them to navigate public spaces independently and safely.

Anna Wright developed the idea for BindiMaps after undergoing years of major surgery to save her own eye-sight – a daunting experience that led her to ask the question “how can we make the world more accessible for people with vision impairment?”. Prior to launching BindiMaps, Anna had helped many other businesses move from startup through to IPO, as a consultant specialising in Business Development and Business Analysis. She holds a PhD and has built an academic career as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney, researching and teaching in the areas of Innovation and Valuation.

Today, her startup has grown to a team of ten full-time employees and closed a $1.5m financing round during COVID.

Anna is a recognised leader in the startup ecosystem, lighting a path for non-technical founders to start and build tech companies that can change the world. It is her passion for impact that has seen Anna nominated for 2019 Australian of the Year, in recognition of her leadership and commitment to creating a more inclusive world through BindiMaps. Anna has also been listed as one of the top 10 Australian Entrepreneurs to watch in 2019, top 5 female Australian Entrepreneurs 2019 and top 10 dynamic Australian entrepreneurs for 2020.


Tuesday 13 October 2020

  • Simon Foster – Co-Chair, NSW Pearcey Foundation Committee
  • Wayne Fitzsimmons – Chair, The Pearcey Foundation


2020 NSW Pearcey Award presentation
An introduction to the outstanding cohort of 2020 NSW Pearcey Entrepreneur of the Year finalists, including:


Keynote address and announcement of Award Winner


Panel Discussion followed by Q+A
Hear from past NSW Pearcey Award Winners and Hall of Famers as they share a window on their personal stories; career highlights, ah-ha moments and challenges faced along the way!

Panellists include:



*This program is subject to change

Keynote Speaker

Michelle Deaker
Mary O’Kane AC
Mary O’Kane AC is the Executive Chairman of O’Kane Associates, and leads all projects undertaken by the company. As a computer engineer undertaking pioneering research in artificial intelligence, a former university vice-chancellor, a member or chair of many Government and private sector boards and committees, an active consultant and public speaker, Chief Scientist and Engineer for the State of New South Wales 2008-2018, and current Chair of the NSW Independent Planning Commission, Professor O’Kane has an extraordinary breadth and depth of experience in the innovation, research, higher education, energy, ICT, public policy and development spheres. She also has extensive national and international networks reflecting this expertise.

In the innovation sphere, Professor O’Kane has been a reviewer for several innovation agencies in Europe, including the FFG, the Austrian Research Promotion Agency, and VINNOVA, the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems. She is frequently invited to give keynote speeches on productivity and innovation.

Professor O’Kane has a history of carrying out reviews of government and scientific agencies in Australia and has been significantly involved in many research centres, currently chairing the Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre and the Space Environment Management Cooperative Research Centre.

In the higher education sphere, Professor O’Kane was Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Adelaide from 1996-2001 and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) from 1994-96. Before that, she was Dean of the Faculty of Information Sciences and Engineering at the University of Canberra. Through O’Kane Associates she advises many universities in Australia and the region.

In the energy sphere, Professor O’Kane was Chair of the Board of the Australian Centre for Renewable Energy, and in 2018 a member of the Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market, and chair of the NSW Energy Security Taskforce. She is currently chair of the board of Aurora Energy, the Tasmanian Government-owned energy retailer.

In 2014 Professor O’Kane was awarded the Pearcey Medal and the inaugural Ada Lovelace Medal.


Michelle Deaker
Jo Burston
Founder & CEO, Job Capital and Rare Birds
Jo Burston is the founder and CEO of Job Capital, a company she grew from nothing to $40M in less than 5 years with a team of 12, co-founder and director of Phronesis Academy and founder of the entrepreneurial movement Inspiring Rare Birds. Rare Birds works to promote opportunity for women in entrepreneurship and has a global vision to have ten million women in its community by 2020.

Sharing entrepreneurial journeys is one of Rare Birds’ core offerings and Jo has so far published three books –Brilliant BusinessKids (Rare Birds), Australia’s 50 Influential Women Entrepreneurs (Rare Birds) and #IFSHECANICAN. Brilliant BusinessKids is her most recent publication, having launched in 2016, and is a comic book showcasing the real-life stories of twelve children – many of whom have global enterprises.

Jo has been recognised as one of Australia’s top entrepreneurs for the past six years and is a leading authority on global women’s entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship as a whole, and SMB markets. Jo is an active mentor for fast growth entrepreneurs both men and women, and is passionate about encouraging young Australians to endeavour to find out exactly who it is that they want to become, and create their own jobs to achieve this.

She was recently invited by Microsoft to address 45,000 delegates at its Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto and has also delivered a summer course on entrepreneurship at Oxford University. Jo is a global ambassador for Microsoft, a regional Oceania ambassador for the UN-recognised Women’s Entrepreneurship Day and is on the advisory board for University of Sydney Business School, University of Sydney Innovation and Entrepreneur Advisory Group and Launch VIC.

Jo is also on the global board of Women’s Network and is a global ambassador for innovative accounting software Xero. She is an active mentor for fast growth entrepreneurs and is passionate about encouraging young Australians to endeavour to find out exactly who it is that they want to become, and create their own jobs to achieve this.

Emma Lo Russo
Emma Lo Russo
CEO, Digivizer
Emma Lo Russo is CEO of Digivizer, Australia’s leading digital marketing technology and activations company, which she co-founded in 2010. Digivizer helps businesses understand, optimize, and make better decisions about their investment in digital marketing, across organic, earned and paid social, search and website media.

Emma is also CEO and founder of, a leading data-driven agency and destination for all things gaming and esports, which she founded in 2017.

Across both companies Emma employs over 50+ people in Australia and 13 other countries across Asia, serving some of the largest global brands and offering a SaaS solution for smaller businesses to take advantage of affordable digital marketing insights.

Emma won the 2014 Carnegie’s Den investment round which led to further funding, and is a Portfolio CEO for Heads Over Heels. She is a recipient of the AGSM Anita Prabhu Women Leaders in Business Award for entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership and business acumen, was awarded the Pearcey Foundation Tech Entrepreneur of the Year Award for NSW in 2016, and won the ACS CXO Disruptor of the Year Award in 2018 and an ACS award for Thought Leadership in 2019.

She holds an MBA from the Australian Graduate School of Management at the University of NSW, and has completed further education in Leadership and Negotiation with Harvard University.

Dr Silvia Pfeiffer
Dr Silvia Pfeiffer
CEO, Coviu
Dr Silvia Pfeiffer is the CEO of Coviu, a cloud application focused on enabling healthcare providers to set up video consultation services for patients and to collaborate on patient cases with peers. Silvia has more than 15 years of experience with Web video technology. She has previously worked for Google, Mozilla, NICTA, and CSIRO and has been involved in creating the Web standards that underpin the Coviu technology. Silvia has a double degree in computer science and business management but has most recently worked with several speech pathology groups and learnt a lot about the special requirements for successful speech pathology video sessions.
Dr Catriona Wallace
Dr Catriona Wallace
Founder & CEO, Ethical AI Advisory; Director, Flamingo AI; Non-Executive Director, Boab AI; NED Responsible Technology Australia; NED CRC Smarter Regions
Dr Catriona Wallace has been recognised by the Australian Financial Review as the Most Influential Woman in Business & Entrepreneurship. Based between the US and Australia, Catriona is the Founder & CEO of Ethical AI Advisory. Catriona is also Director & Founder of Artificial Intelligence ASX Listed company Flamingo AI, provider of Machine Learning based technologies. Flamingo AI is the second only woman led (CEO & Chair) business ever to list on the Australian Stock Exchange.

Catriona sits on the Boards of BOAB AI, Responsible Technology Australia and CRC Smarter Regions.

Catriona is also an Adjunct Professor at the Australian Graduate School of Management, UNSW and has achieved Advance Australia’s highest award in Technology & Innovation for Australians working abroad. Catriona has been named among the Top 9 Female Entrepreneurs by the Sydney Morning Herald and Top 30 Women redefining business by Womens’ Agenda.

Catriona has a PhD in Organizational Behaviour: Technology Substituting for Human Leaders and she was recently inducted into the Royal Institution of Australia acknowledging her as one of Australia’s most pre-eminent scientists (2019).

Catriona is one of the world’s most cited experts and speakers on Artificial Intelligence, Customer Experience, Ethics & Human Rights in technology and Women in Leadership and is also a philanthropist, human rights activist and mother of five.

With a dedicated passion for encouraging more women to pursue careers in technology, Catriona is leading by example. She has a PhD in Organizational Behavior and is a published author and analyst. Catriona’s links with business schools around the world allow her to share international practice and case studies, and as such brings a strong evidence-based approach to her speaking topics.

Catriona is also a philanthropist, human rights activist and mother of five.

Jennifer Zanich
Jennifer Zanich
Vice President EMEIA, PlayNetwork
Jennifer Zanich has recently made the move from Sydney to the UK, where she has taken up the role of VP EMEIA at PlayNetwork in London – leading the rollout of Apple Music for Business.

Jennifer is a senior corporate executive, a startup CEO, and a high impact leader with contagious passion and drive. An entrepreneur in her own right, Jennifer spent a decade in Silicon Valley starting and funding companies. Among her many successes, Jennifer founded Paloma Mobile, a venture-backed mobile startup creating cloud-based services for mobile network operators, and raised $10 million USD in venture capital for SeeSaw Networks, a digital media services company she founded. For her achievements as a female entrepreneur, Jennifer has received a Trailblazer Award. A passionate supporter of the Australian startup and venture capital community, Jennifer headed up Global Partnerships and Ecosystems in the Department of Entrepreneurship at the University of New South Wales, where she designed and led programs like the Founders 10x Accelerator which identifies high potential startups within the university environment. In addition to her many previous advisory and board roles in both Australia and the US, Jennifer is an Advisor and Investor at Bullpen Capital, a new breed of venture capital focused on the ongoing disruption of the venture industry, and a Managing Partner at Stacked Venture Builder, where she created and now leads a team of successful entrepreneurs and execution specialists in innovation, strategy, development, design, and marketing.

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