Just last week I was asked to help judge the inaugural Gold Coast Women in Business Awards, a very difficult thing to do as there were so many worthy nominees.


The calibre on women working either in or on business has increased dramatically over the past few years and is testament to their hard work and persistence to make a difference.


The two main categories, the businesswomen of the year and business achiever, both drew a competitive field of local women who all epitomised the strength and talent of what helps make the city so entrepreneurial.


The overall winner was Gail O’Neill, a long-time resident of the region recognised after more than a decade on the executive of the Southern Gold Coast Chamber of Commerce and three years as its president, and involvement in many other business and community organisations.


Gail is also chair of the Cooly Rocks On festival, which has grown over the last three years, and has run the Beach House Seaside Resort in Coolangatta since 2001.


The winner of the Business Achiever Award was Michelle Doherty, who bought a skincare company and transformed it to now enjoy a national and international profile.


In recognition of the outstanding contributions these women make to the local business community I donated $4,000 in mentorship programs to a number of the award winners.