Fruit packing entrepreneur becomes Telstra’s Business Woman of the Year

Posted by Isobel Drake on 10th December 2008

Leanne Wesche, Managing Director of Perth-based Pacco Group, was last night named the 2008 Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year.Ms Wesche established Pacco Group in 2004. In just four years, the company has grown to become one of Australia’s largest independent fruit and vegetable packing businesses, packaging over 60 different varieties and 150 tonnes of produce each week. Ms Wesche has since recently launched Safeguard Innovations, a company which offers a range of fruit and vegetable washes designed to protect consumers from food contaminants.

The judges said the winner has a rare gift in that she is both visionary and strategic while retaining a focus on results.

Speaking at the event, Telstra CEO, Mr Sol Trujillo, congratulated Ms Wesche on her career achievements and highlighted the valuable contribution she has made to the fresh food industry.

“These awards celebrate the outstanding contribution women make to the business sector, the Australian economy and the wider community,” he said. “We saw a 20 per cent increase in award entries this year, demonstrating that showcasing the extraordinary capabilities of women is continuing to provide an important source of inspiration for other women.”

“In today’s economic environment, it’s more critical now than ever before that we stay focussed, continue to support women and provide this platform for recognition.”

Ms Wesche was also named the winner of the Yellow Business Owner Award.

The International CEO of Boost Juice Bars, Jacinta Caithness, was recognised with the PricewaterhouseCoopers Young Business Women’s Award (for women under 35).

Other winners on the night were:

National winner of the Hudson Private and Corporate Sector Award (for employees in the private and corporate sector or owners with less than a 50 per cent share of a business): Rachel Argaman, Chief Executive Officer of Toga Hospitality Group, Ultimo, NSW

National winner of the IBM Community and Government Award (for employees of government departments, statutory bodies and not-for-profit organisations): Professor Margaret Abernethy, Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Commerce and Director of the Melbourne Graduate School of Management at the University of Melbourne, Parkville, Victoria

National winner of the Nokia Business Innovation Award (for eligible business owners, private sector employees and entrepreneurs who answer the innovation questions in the Entry Form): Naomi Simson, Founder and Chief Experience Officer of RedBalloon Days, Pyrmont, NSW