Mountains women leading the way in business

From left, Janine Leghissa, Anne Barratt, Henriette Macri-Etienne, Andrea Turner-Boys, Jayne Denham, Liesel Solomon, Chandu Bickford with Macquarie MP Susan Templeman. Photo: Sharon Alva Photography.
From left, Janine Leghissa, Anne Barratt, Henriette Macri-Etienne, Andrea Turner-Boys, Jayne Denham, Liesel Solomon, Chandu Bickford with Macquarie MP Susan Templeman. Photo: Sharon Alva Photography.

Six Blue Mountains entrepreneurs were honoured at a gala event for women in business from as far afield as Canberra and from a diverse range of companies, including retail, conveyancing and coaching specialists.

Held held on December 4 at Liverpool Catholic Club, the event was staged by the NSW-based Women with Altitude business network, which aims to assist and uplift women in business through networking, capacity building and support such as mentoring.

For top award winner, Anne Barratt, the sense of community at the event was reflective of her experience in the Blue Mountains.

Ms Barratt, of Empowering Health, said that since moving to the area after a corporate career in Sydney, she'd found both men and women in business had the mentality to support one another with "helpful advice, mentoring and referrals".

"Being in business on your own can be very isolating. However, from day one, when I reached out, people were more than happy to share and have been very supportive."

Ms Barratt was awarded both the annual Business Excellence award and the Inspirational Person of the Year award. She was particularly grateful to win the awards in what had been a "challenging year".

"As demand increases, particularly around mental health, some traditional businesses have been forced to change and broaden the scope of services to clients. I've been fortunate to be in a position to help fill gaps with complementary health support."

Another Blue Mountains award winner, Dr Henriette Macri-Etienne, of Integrated Dental Health in Katoomba, felt the recognition she had received through a Revolutionary Achievement helped to sustain a strong sense of teamwork within her business, which in turn was able to service the community.

Dr Macri-Etienne won the award for her work building a general dental practice with a particular focus on dental anxiety and a multidisciplinary, or holistic, approach to oral health.

"All of us are incredibly proud to be acknowledged in the Blue Mountains community and more broadly as innovative leaders in our field... and it provides us with fuel to work harder."

Dr Macri-Etienne said also that within her own industry at least women's networking groups were a great support.

"Women with Altitude exists in part because of the additional barriers women can still sometimes face working and succeeding in industries such as my own. There are wonderful men and women in the industry, but everyone should have an equal opportunity to succeed in dentistry and elsewhere. And, in our view, all patients should experience an equal measures of compassion and care".

Women with Altitude founder, Andrea Turner Boys, told the gala event that her driving force had been to create a community for women in business and the awards night, the eighth the group had hosted, was a place to acknowledge effort and allow "lights to shine".

"At the centre of everything we do is connection. Kindness and supportive action in business and elsewhere is happening all around us. What we need more of are ways to share that, to raise the visibility and knowledge that this is happening."

Ms Turner said that among the more than 200 award entrants from across a large area of NSW and Canberra, businesses in the Blue Mountains had put in a particularly strong showing.

Other winners from the Blue Mountains wereChandu Bickford, a Blue Mountains born and raised holistic mentor and educator; an e-commerce business; Liesel Solomon and Jayne Denham, from Sista Styling in Springwood.