Griffith Business School has announced the winners of its 2017 Outstanding Alumnus Awards at a gala event.

The 12th Annual Alumni Gala Dinner was held at Sofitel Brisbane Central, and saw industry partners, staff, and students past and present gather to celebrate the remarkable achievements of the School’s graduates.

Outstanding Alumnus of the Year

Barry Thomas was announced as the Outstanding Alumnus of the Year. As Vice President of Cook Incorporated, and Director of Cook Medical in Asia Pacific, the Bachelor of Commerce graduate has more than two decades of international leadership and expertise in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. As well as working tirelessly to ensure people in Asia have access to high-tech medical devices, he also created the Young Leaders program to inspire a new generation of Cook Medical Employees. He’s also been instrumental in spearheading a push for the Australian Government to implement the Australian Innovation and Manufacturing Incentive to retain talent and manufacturing on Australian shores.

Mr Thomas says he’s always had a strong commitment to social responsibility in business. “Social responsibility is a fundamental requirement of leadership as far as I am concerned. It should be broad based and include not only looking after the personal aspects of community but also the environmental and be holistic in its application … We pride ourselves on being involved and contributing a vast number of initiatives and encouraging participation of everyone, and we will support interests that are driven by our staff.”

Of his win he says: “It hadn’t even entered into my head that I would be in contention. It’s very humbling and also reflects on all the people that have helped me along the way. One can’t imagine that someone who was a hippie in Nimbin in the 1970s would be recognised in this way.”

Young Outstanding Alumnus of the Year

The Young Outstanding Alumnus of the Year is Penelope Twemlow. Penelope undertook a Graduate Certificate in Risk Management with Griffith and has achieved more in her early career than many achieve in a lifetime in traditionally male-dominated industries.

Starting out as a warfare officer in the Royal Australian Navy, Penelope worked her way up to Navy Chief of Staff, also holding position as a Police Investigator for the Australian Defence Force. Now, as a successful executive, she is CEO of Energy Skills Queensland, and Chairs both the Queensland Electrical Safety Committee and Women in Power, a not-for-profit promoting and empowering women.

“I am so grateful for the recognition of the work that I have done and continue to do in all facets of my work and life. I am so thankful that I have found my ‘calling’ and have been able to work in areas that I am passionate about,” she said.

Although she has many remarkable achievements, Penelope says there are a few of which she is most proud. “I have been incredibly fulfilled by the work that I have done in the domestic violence, gender equality, homelessness and mental health arenas, and I have received great pleasure in providing training and employment to disadvantaged personnel across the state. I was also extremely satisfied when I attained my five-year career goal of the CEO position and I was proud when I graduated from my various modes of study, including Griffith University and the Australian Institute of Company Directors,” she said.

Outstanding Entrepreneurial Alumnus of the Year

Kim McCosker never imagined writing a book to make cooking easy would see her career soar. As the recipient of the Outstanding Entrepreneurial Alumnus award, she’s thrilled to have her hard work recognised. Her book 4 Ingredients has sold more than 9 million copies and she’s scored a seven-book deal in the USAa very difficult feat.

“I live on the Sunshine Coast which is buoyed by a real entrepreneurial spirit,” the Bachelor of International Finance graduate explained. “So to receive an award for Entrepreneur of the Year is extraordinary and a story I’m certain the Sunshine Coast Council, chambers of commerce and local media will relish.”

Mrs McCosker feels particularly strongly about giving back to the community once you reach your own goals. Through the success of her 4 Ingredients brand she’s also donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. “Having a platform allows you to share information important and relevant with your followers … no matter how tough you think your life is, there’s always someone who has to face challenges tougher than yours, so when you can help, you help. Giving never goes out of fashion!”

Outstanding International Alumnus of the Year
Graduate Bob Chua was awarded the honour Outstanding International Alumnus of the Year for 2017. Mr Chua took his market research company Pulse from a small start-up, into a leading publicly quoted company on London’s PLUS markets. He has since built himself an impressive international career, living and working across the Asia-Pacific, Europe and the US. He is currently a Director of global technology and innovation company Dematic, a global leader providing a comprehensive range of intelligent intralogistics and Industry 4.0 Automation and Robotic solutions.

The Bachelor of Business graduate has taken his Griffith University degree to the world and has become an exemplary role model for business students in Australia and throughout the Asia—Pacific. Since March 2016 he has acted as a mentor for the Mayor of London’s International Business Program, advising London-based companies keen to invest in growth in Asia. He is also Chairman of the Virtuous Investment Circle (ViC), an independent non-profit organisation focused on angel investing in Malaysia, and has the prestigious honour of being a local advisory panel member for MSC Malaysia by invitation from the Malaysian Government. Bob is also a previous winner of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the year 2008.

Mr Chua said he operates on a solid foundation of paying it forward. “I sit on various advisory board and committees, including mentoring GBS students, and I feel that I get as much out of it in terms of fulfillment and satisfaction, as they would in advice. The one thing I do ask of anyone I assist however, is for them to one day ‘pay it forward’ themselves. This cycle makes for a healthy and sustainable ecosystem,” he said.

Griffith congratulates all nominees and winners and thanks our gala gold sponsor AMP and silver sponsor UniSuper for helping once again to make the evening such a success.