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ARN Women in ICT Awards: and the winners are…

ARN Women in ICT Awards: and the winners are…

More than 600 attendees came together under the ARN roof in Sydney to set the industry benchmark for female excellence across Australia #WIICTA

Credit: IDG

ARN is proud to announce the winners of the new-look Women in ICT Awards (WIICTA) in 2021, honouring female excellence within the technology channel following an industry-defining celebration across Australia.

Unveiled during an in-person celebration lunch with over 600 guests at the ICC Sydney – the largest audience for a gender diversity and inclusion (D&I) channel awards program in Australia – more than 200 finalists were honoured from a record-breaking pool of over 340 nominations, spanning partner, telco, vendor and distributor businesses.

Specifically, 23 outstanding winners were announced during the event – nearly double the number from 2020 – which marked a significant expansion in the reach, support and market appeal of WIICTA.

“Congratulations to our finalists, highly commended and winners in 2021,” said Cherry Yumul, vice president of Strategic Partnerships and Innovation at IDG. “This year WIICTA has generated a volume and calibre of nominees that has never been seen nor conceivable before.

“We are proud to provide a platform upon which the channel community can unite and honour market-leading individuals and companies, kudos Australia for continuing to place gender diversity high on the corporate agenda.”

Shaped by the feedback of more than 50 leading female technology executives, WIICTA – now in its 10th year of running – honoured the channel across eight categories, spanning Innovation, Technical, Entrepreneur, Graduate, Rising Star, Shining Star, Achievement and D&I Champion (Company and Individual) awards.

The addition of a new Graduate category recognised standout candidates who have leveraged apprenticeship programs to start a career within the ICT industry, acknowledging the importance of encouraging young female talent to join the local technology sector.

Also new to the program is a D&I Champion category – spanning both Company and Individual awards – which represents a natural evolution of the long-standing Community honour. This recognised influential individuals who actively drive D&I initiatives outside of core day-to-day responsibilities, alongside pioneering organisations who have gone beyond surface-level commitments through the introduction of policies and programs to meet D&I goals.

In response to a wealth of standout submissions, eight categories were divided to best acknowledge and highlight the depth of female talent in the Australian market. Innovation, Graduate and D&I Champion (Company) were segmented into two sub-categories spanning Partner and Vendor / Distributor awards. Meanwhile, Achievement and D&I Champion (Individual) included two sub-categories of Partner and Vendor.

Specific to Rising Star and Shining Star, both were divided into four sub-categories housing Partner (National), Partner (Multinational), Vendor and Distributor awards. National covered partners focused primarily on Australia – and New Zealand – markets while Multinational housed technology providers which also operate outside of the local industry at regional and global levels.

This is in addition to Technical which was segmented into three sub-categories, spanning Partner (National), Partner (Multinational) and Vendor / Distributor.

This decision was made by the IDG shortlist panel consisting of Cherry Yumul (vice president of Strategic Partnerships and Innovation); James Henderson (Editorial Director) and Julia Talevski (Senior Journalist) with the aim of providing a foundation upon which a broader range of exceptional female candidates can be recognised.

In addition to honouring winners, ARN also holds wider responsibility for ensuring that as many outstanding women as possible are endorsed through this unique awards program, aligned to the collective goal of providing a platform upon which aspiring female talent can shine across Australia.

The winners were selected by an executive panel of more than 150 industry judges, acknowledging creativity, innovation and excellence.

Meet the finalists of ARN Women in ICT Awards.Credit: IDG
Meet the finalists of ARN Women in ICT Awards.

Advancing women in tech

ARN has celebrated gender diversity and recognised female excellence across the Australian channel since first launching WIICTA in 2012, acknowledging the achievements of a talented group of female front runners who have become influential figures across the local industry.

This has been further supported by State of Gender Diversity in the Tech Channel, a new research initiative designed to examine D&I progress across the technology channel.

Delivered to a full house at the ICC Sydney, this in-depth survey focused on the three core pillars of diversity and inclusion (D&I), spanning Tech Industry, Workplace and Personal Experience.

In an industry-first for the channel, research was open to female, male and other gender identities, welcoming submissions from CEO to graduate levels across all company sizes, industry segments and locations. Questions were designed to be fielded by participants across different age groups, cultural backgrounds and job functions – spanning management, sales, operations, technical and marketing roles  irrespective of industry tenure.

The aim was to independently and confidentially source a range of perspectives industry-wide, aligned to the collective goal of moving the conversation forward in relation to D&I within the channel.

Spearheaded by IDG’s leading channel brands across Asia Pacific  ARN (Australia), Reseller News (New Zealand) and Channel Asia (Southeast Asia)  data was segmented based on location, company type and job function, covering the core issues of gender pay, career progression and company support among others.

The launch of State of Gender Diversity in the Tech Channel represents a landmark moment in the industry, with IDG  as the world’s leading tech media, data and marketing services company  becoming the first independent outlet to open such dedicated research in Australia.

In addition to this research, WIICTA was keynoted by Pauline Nguyen – a best-selling author and award-winning businesswoman – whose achievements are all the more impressive for having escaped Vietnam on a boat alongside surviving a Thai refugee camp.

Pauline overcame such adverse beginnings to transform her approach to success by re-engineering her beliefs, questioning the status quo and hacking cultural norms to become one of Australia's most successful entrepreneurs as the owner of Red Lantern, the most awarded Vietnamese restaurant in the world.

ARN congratulates all winners, highly commended individuals and finalists, and thanks all organisations and individuals for taking the time to submit nominations.

And the winners are...


This award recognises a standout candidate who has delivered an unrivalled contribution to the ICT industry, evident through outstanding professional and personal achievements. This individual has earned a reputation as an esteemed thought leader following a distinguished career as both a business leader and role model for aspiring executives. This award is open to candidates with 25 years' or more experience within the ICT industry.



  • Katherine Rossini - AC3
  • Jennifer Maritz - Barhead Solutions
  • Jane Livesey - Cognizant
  • Trena Foote - Cube Networks
  • Paula Fountain - Data#3
  • Rose Dyson - DDLS
  • Adrienne Maxted - Deloitte
  • Melissa Lukianenko - Ignite Project Services
  • Theresa Neate - Slalom

Winner: Jane Livesey - Cognizant

Jane’s career began in the mid 1990s with strategy and project management roles, she has since gone on to a variety of top-level leadership roles in large global technology organisations and is today recognised for her extensive technology consulting experience, client centricity, leadership qualities, passion for people and belonging, and embracing difference.



  • Vanessa Sulikowski - Cisco
  • Kelly Johnson - ESET
  • Julie Barbieri - Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE)
  • Alissa Murray - HP
  • Helen Silva - Nutanix
  • Lisa Sim - Palo Alto Networks
  • Rhonda Twohill - Poly
  • Catherine Ballantyne - VMware

Highly Commended: Julie Barbieri - Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) 

Winner: Vanessa Sulikowski - Cisco

Claiming more than 30 years in the industry, Vanessa is recognised as a leading technical talent and is renowned for her knowledge as a pioneer with an eye for technology insights. In 2015, Vanessa became the first female globally to become a Cisco Distinguished Systems Engineer (DSE) and, in 2019, she was awarded her first United States Patent on Computer Vision and Wireless Data.

Read more on the next page...

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