Illawarra Women in Business Awards 2017: photos

A NSW Rail director and a Dapto mum making huge inroads in raising awareness about autism are among the big winners at Friday’s Illawarra Women in Business (IWIB) Awards.

Candice Heine is the 2017 Illawarra Businesswoman of the Year and Jennifer Ratcliffe picked up three awards for her outstanding commitment to the community, networking and innovation.

During the event at City Beach Function Centre IWIB director Glenda Papac announced Turia Pitt is returning as a guest speaker at a networking lunch on July 21.

Ms Heine’s achievements in management with NSW Trains was described by judges Margaret Biggs and Leanne Smith as phenomenal. They noted how she often travels on trains in uniform to engage with customers and has made many efforts to improve commuter experiences and satisfaction.

Victor Daly, Kerrie Miller, Candice Heine, Wayne Simpson and Ian Mondon at the Illawarra Women in Business Awards. Picture: ROBERT PEET

Victor Daly, Kerrie Miller, Candice Heine, Wayne Simpson and Ian Mondon at the Illawarra Women in Business Awards. Picture: ROBERT PEET

“She is somebody who has chosen to make her home and her worklife in the Illawarra and what she is achieving professionally and personally is remarkable,” Mrs Biggs said.

“She is the only female director on NSW trains. She is living locally. She walks the walk and talks the talk and gets on the train in her uniform and goes and meets the customers. She is rejigging timetables to achieve maximum customer satisfaction and to achieve the best outcome. And she has 86 per cent employee satisfaction. And she is involved in the design of the new trains that are going to come in 2019 to the South Coast,” Mrs Biggs said,

The IWIB recognition coincides with Ms Heine recently being promoted to a position where she manages 800 staff across the Illawarra from her office in Lowden Square. She is also also heavily involved with Dragon boats. Her club has grown from 18 to 44 team members and qualified the Pan Pacific Games. The team is heavily focused on well-being and is particularly supportive of members who have survived breast cancer.

Mrs Ratcliffe was recognised as inspirational in her support and dedication to the community. She is the author of 'This Was Not On the Brochure'  a book about living a great life, even when things don't work out the way you expect. Is a facilitator for Creatrix that helps women with Emotional Wellness. ​President of Care & Share for Autism, a volunteer organisation that supports and encourages families living with autism. A volunteer facilitator for the Look Good Feel Better program that conducts workshops for women undergoing cancer treatments. And is a volunteer for the Shine program where high school girls are taught that they have value, worth and purpose.

The innovation award recognised her for the creation of a First and Then” app with her husband Brad Ratcliffe as a new way to help support transition for people with Autism. She initiated Emotional Wellness for Women Workshops as well as Date Night With a Difference to help couples and singles discover the different ways men and women process information, experience emotions and how that impact’s on the way they communicate and relate. She has also just released a first-of-a-kind book called “Keeping it Real” as an A to Z Guide for anyone caring for children with autism.

Other IWIB Award winners were Foye Legal, IME Natural Perfume, Shellharbour Swimming Academy, MMJ, Kenny Escapes and Sarah Nolen, of BirdBlack Design.

Highly Commended awards went to My Tiny Dancer, Urban Timber, Kathy Karas Fine Art, Kenny Escapes, Active Property Conveyancing, SuCo, Diana Foye,  Inner Edge Wellness, Robyn te Velde, Highlights for Mental Health, and Yvonne Walker, HR with Ease, Nataly Sanchez of Black Salt Brasserie/Table 426 and Maria Zuschmann. 


  • Networking Champion - winner Jennifer Ratcliffe.
  • New Business – winner Foye Legal. Highly commendeds My Tiny Dancer & Urban Timber.
  • Home Based Business – winner IME Natural Perfume. Highly commended Kathy Karas Fine Art.
  • Small Business – winner Shellharbour Swimming Academy. Highly commendeds Kenny Escapes & Active Property Conveyancing.
  • Best Business – winner MMJ. Highly commended SuCo.
  • Innovative Business Woman – winner Jennifer Ratcliffe of Ratpack Creations. Highly commended Diana Foye of Foye Legal.
  • Customer Focus – winner Kenny Escapes. Highly commended Inner Edge Wellness.
  • Outstanding Commitment to Community – winner Jennifer Ratcliffe of Emotional Wellness with Jennifer Ratcliffe. Highly commendeds Robyn te Velde, Highlights for Mental Health, and Yvonne Walker, HR with Ease.
  • Young Business Woman – winner Sarah Nolen of BirdBlack Design. Highty commended Nataly Sanchez of Black Salt Brasserie & Table 426. 
  • Business Woman of Year – winner Candice Heine, of NSW Trains. Highly commended Maria Zuschmann, of Inner Edge Wellness.