A night to remember for women in business

Tue 30 Aug

By Josephine Huynh

There’s something empowering about being in a room filled with inspirational and successful local businesswomen that ignites and empowers something inside you.

Last Thursday I experienced exactly that at the 2016 Canberra Women in Business Awards, as the winners of four prestigious accolades were announced at a gala dinner at the Hyatt Hotel Canberra.
The anticipated event brought together people from across the region to recognise the contributions, leadership and innovation of business women in our community, either as business owners or working within organisations, across a range of industries and sectors.



One step into the space and you were immersed in creativity – a reflection of the diverse talent in the room. Show Pony Events adorned the space in an enchanting forest theme, featuring trees and branches layered in cascading diamantes, lavish fairy lighting and luscious drapings.

The night was emceed by local personality and one half of Kristen and Rod for Breakfast on Mix106.3, Kristen Henry, and after a welcoming introduction by Canberra Women in Business President, Claudia Vannithone, the awards were underway!

Click here to see the winners of the 2016 Canberra Women in Business Awards

Guest speaker, Andrea Hutchinson, took to the stage to share her journey of how she made it to the top. Born and raised in Bern, Switzerland, Andrea has always had a globally-focused and creative mind. Andrea’s interest in fashion was sparked early when she became a model at the age of 16. Today, Andrea owns and directs HAUS Models, a unique Canberra modelling agency that focuses on cultivating and supporting local talent. Andrea is immersed in bringing fashion to life. She also co-founded FASHFEST, a fashion festival that has transformed the city’s fashion scene every year since May 2013.

Then the moment we were all waiting for arrived – the announcement of the Business Woman of the Year, which was awarded to Maryanne Gore of Project Lighting.



The crowd roared with support and applause as Maryanne made her way to the podium.

“When they were about to announce the winner of Business Woman of the Year I thought, ‘Will it be me? Will it be me!?’.  I knew I was a finalist, and all finalists had been warned to prepare a two-minute speech but I just had no idea,” she laughs.

Maryanne has held the position of Project Lighting Chief Executive since 2000. Her father founded the business in 1972 and ever since Maryanne has stood at the helm, she’s been a pillar in the business community, leading a highly successful group of staff across an increasing number of outlets.

Maryanne models longevity in business, while being responsive to changing customer and business needs. A quiet achiever, she shows that continuous commitment to service can bring longstanding results.

“I was inspired to get involved with the awards by the previous winners ever since I joined Canberra Women in Business in 2006.  I really admired the way they spoke about their businesses and I hoped that I could do that too one day,” she explains.



To be a successful business woman, Maryanne says it isn’t just about being driven or hard-working, like what many may expect, but she also attributes it to having a great support network around you.

“To be successful, I have been supported by a great team – on a personal level by my husband, parents, wonderful family day care mums and after-school carers, and on a business level by our great team of employees,” she says.

“It’s amazing that Canberra recognises women in business, after all, women hold up half the sky. But I’d like to see the future when it is not so unusual for a woman to lead businesses and generate productive effort for our country that leads to benefits for all our community.”

All images by Martin Ollman