The Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa (BWASA) has announced the Businesswoman of the Year Award finalists.

This is a culmination of months of an intense selection process that saw many business women submitting their credentials for consideration for this coveted award.

In its 35th year since its inception, the premium awards have been honouring outstanding South African businesswomen and recognising their achievement in business.

“This year’s entries are testimony to the growing interest of women in business, and not only that,” says Liepollo Lebohang Pheko, president of BWASA.

“More and more women are receiving recognition for their path making in changing the business landscape which has historically been male dominated. The quality of the business credentials submitted for consideration for this year’s awards yet again confirms that women are major contributors to shaping our economy, demonstrating excellent business and leadership acumen.

“Arriving at the eight names nominated for the awards was a huge challenge for our judges.”

Drawn from two primary categories that the awards focus on, namely the corporate and the government categories, the 2014 eight finalists are:

* Carol Hall, Vodacom managing executive and the first woman at Vodacom to have attained this position in the Eastern Cape region. Through her leadership, Hall’s region also won the Vodacom CEO Award in 2008. Hall began her journey at Vodacom as a corporate sales consultant. She has won the regional BWA’s Business of the Year Award – Corporate Category in 2005 and was a finalist in the CEO Magazine’s “SA’s Most Influential Woman in Business”. She also serves on the board of the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber and the Eastern Cape Education Development Trust.

* Dr Amber Cristal Anderson, HR Executive at Coca-Cola Fortune. Dr Anderson has a wealth of business experience in the FMCG and education sectors. She is an expert on people strategy, practices leadership, transformation, public affairs and communication. In 2007, Dr Anderson’s doctoral thesis was nominated by an external international examiner for the Thesis of the Year Award in the USA. Over the past years, she has received many accolades, including but not limited to Coca-Cola Fortune’s team CEO Awards for Excellence in Business, the BWA’s Regional Business Achievers Awards and the CEO Magazine’s Most Influential Woman in Business and Government Awards in 2012.

* Antoinette Irvine – vice-president Human Resources at Unilever South and Southern Africa, is the first woman to have undertaken this role in the last 25 years. In 2001, Irvine was appointed Reward Director for Africa, Middle East and Turkey and was later appointed Human Resources VP, a role involving managing the HR outsourced services across Asia and AMET.

* Roswitha Becker, GM of Global Load Control. Drawing from her wealth of international experience Becker is a dynamic and engaging business woman. She was integral in building an organisation that exemplifies the possibilities of globalisation. She is driven by a deep sense of making a difference as she is involved in mentoring and CSI work as a public speaker.
From the government category,

* Nombulelo Bea Hackula, head of Eastern Cape Department of Social Development. She is regarded as one of the most influential women leaders in the Eastern Cape. Hackula boasts more than 20 years of leadership experience from both private and public sectors in the areas of strategy and supply chain management. She has also held various leadership positions such as, purchasing manager at Daimler Chrysler SA, Deputy Director in office of the Premier in the Eastern Cape, Head of Department at the Department of Housing, local government and traditional affairs. She has a passion for championing women development issues, and as such has steered the Department of Social Development in this area to reach a threshold of 50% of women occupying leadership positions in 2013.

* Julie-May Ellingson, former CEO of the Durban International Convention Centre. Ellingson is a town and regional planner by profession.
Prior to joining the Durban ICC, she was head of the eThekwini’s Strategic Projects Unit where she was responsible for over R6-billion of capital projects – including the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium and the upgrade of Durban’s Central Beachfront.
Over the past three years, Ellingson has been privileged to lead a dynamic ICC team.
During her tenure at the Durban ICC, the ICC has substantially increased its contribution to the national and provincial economy; achieved record revenues; and moved the company from net losses of over 40% to an average net profit of over 24%.
Ellingson is recognised for her passion, hard work and commitment to getting things done.

* Ayanda Noah, group executive for Distribution at Eskom. Noah was the first woman in Eskom to head up the Eskom Distribution portfolio. She has over 15 000 employees in her portfolio, oversees infrastructure of over 320 000KM of lines across South Africa and has managed a (Capex and Opex) budget of over R20bn. Noah’s career highlights include the achievement of 201 788 household connections, which were last achieved in 2002. Under her leadership, Eskom Distribution has seen great improvement in safety, technical performance and infrastructure investment.

* Jacqueline Molisane, deputy Director-General for Strategic partnerships at the Department of Public Enterprise (DPE). Molisane was previously the Chief Director, Financial Analysis and Transactions in the Energy and Broadband Unit at DPE. She formed an integral part of the team tasked with securing funding for Eskom from the World Bank and the African Development Bank. Molisane has 10 years of private sector experience in the financial services sector specialising in Investment Banking. She currently serves on the board of the National Empowerment Fund as a Trustee.
“The nominees align very well with the BWA’s ethos. Each woman has shown such amazing achievement in their careers and arriving at just one winner for each category is always such a difficult task. After 35 years our organisation is still able to attract and align with the best of business leadership in this country,” concludes Pheko.