Kate Thiele, Chief Executive of Guide Dogs SA/NT has been named South Australia’s Telstra Business Woman of the Year. Kate said that the award was an honour and would assist in shining a light on the not-for-profit sector.
“I’m proud to lead Guide Dogs and a team of dedicated people who every day want to change lives,” Kate said. “We need to do this because every hour, every day an Australian learns they will lose their sight.”
Kate joined the organisation when the economy was uncertain due to the global financial crisis. Using her extensive sales and marketing experience, Ms Thiele brokered a multi-faceted giving program that tripled turnover, grew active donors from 5,000 to over 50,000 and regular donors from just 450 a year to an astonishing 21,000.
During her tenure, Kate has driven the expansion of the program to include Autism Assistance Dogs–the first Guide Dog organisation in Australia to run the program, offering families with at-risk children the ability to lead lives that many take for granted.
With a career spanning the health, retail and manufacturing sectors, Kate said the key to her success has been a passion for enabling others to better their own realities and a strong leadership style.
“I am passionate about empowering others. Witnessing people living with disability opening up their worlds is truly humbling and I am proud to be part of their journey,’ she said.
“Each and every day I am inspired by our clients who are living lives with dignity and purpose.”
Kate thanked the South Australian finalists and the previous Telstra Business Women who had inspired others to make a difference and grow as women and leaders.
“Thank you to all those who have shared the journey and believed in what we could achieve; whether that’s been my family, fellow workers, staff, mentors and friends,” she said. “Thank you to everyone who supports Guide Dogs and our life-changing work, our, volunteers, donors and supporters.”
She described winning the award as feeling of joy but also a strong sense of responsibility and would use the award with “wisdom and respect the opportunity”.
Kate was also presented the For Purpose and Social Enterprise Award at the 21st annual Telstra South Australia Business Women’s Awards at the Adelaide Oval on 13 October.