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A leadership approach that combines innovation with non-predatory expansion has seen not-for-profit CEO Violet Roumeliotis recognised as one of Australia’s top business women.

On Friday at the NSW Telstra Business Women’s Awards, Ms Roumeliotis was selected in the ‘For Purpose and Social Enterprise’ category as the state representative who will go on to the national awards. She was one of 24 NSW finalists in the awards, which recognise the achievements of extraordinary business women.

Ms Roumeliotis credits her success as a business woman to a values-driven, entrepreneurial mindset.

“The organisations in which I’ve always taken an interest — both in the business world and not-for-profit sector — are those that operate like honey bees. They collaborate and generate value for themselves, their communities and their environment,” she said.

“Others serve their own interests, consuming whatever lies in their paths, like locusts. I like to think that as a person who has led teams in successful organisations, we have employed honey-bee-type practices that have seeded fruitful, sustainable organisations with positive outcomes for communities.”

Ms Roumeliotis said that at times, this has meant walking away from lucrative ventures that did not align with the values of herself or the organisation she heads, Settlement Services International (SSI).

“I’m inspired by a sector and peers who don’t play hard ball and compete ruthlessly. The main game for me is to create enduring value for everyone involved. By applying such principles, the organisations I have been a part of have thrived,” she said.

“At SSI, this approach has seen our organisation break the traditional not-for-profit mould and operate as a social business. We run efficiently and effectively so that we can reinvest to maximise our social impact.

“For example, we run five social enterprises that give new arrivals and other job seekers work experience opportunities. The most significant of these is our low cost supermarket, The Staples Bag, which also actively reduces Australia’s food wastage problem and addresses the growing issue of food insecurity. We have distributed over 500 tonnes of food in the last 12 months alone.”

Ms Roumeliotis will join other state and territory category winners in Melbourne on Tuesday 21 November for the National Telstra Business Women’s Awards.

 

About SSI:
Settlement Services International is a community-based not-for-profit organisation providing a range of services in the areas of refugee settlement, migrant support services, asylum seeker assistance, housing, multicultural foster care, disability support, employment services and youth support in NSW.

Media enquiries:
SSI Communications Coordinator Hannah Gartrell 0488 680 287

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