Franchise Woman of the Year
Past Winners

2015 National and QLD/NT Winner
Marlies Hobbs, Paleo Cafe

After the birth of Marlies' first son, who suffered from severe reflux caused by a dairy intolerance, Marlies discovered it was the same intolerance that caused her digestive problems. Adopting the Paleo lifestyle not only resolved this, but fuelled her endless passion for sharing the lifestyle.

Formerly a lawyer, Marlies decided to pursue her dreams and left her career, risking everything to open Paleo Café. With an explosive response, Marlies quickly established the business as a franchise.

Today, Marlies plays a large role in the strategic direction of the brand and has big dreams of showing people there are alternative ways to live.

2014 National and QLD/NT Winner
Sharon Jurd, HydroKleen

Sharon Jurd is the director of the franchisor company HydroKleen Australia, director of the HydroKleen Gold Coast franchise and also the director of Sharon Jurd Events.

With more than 20 years experience in growing and building successful franchises, Sharon helps business owners through challenges, growth and expansion strategies in her role at Sharon Jurd Events.

She delivers seminars and business mentoring in an impressive and informative format to show attendees a proven formula to be successful in their business ventures.

Sharon can hold both one-on-one seminars and larger forum events and can also help people set their businesses up to franchise.

2013 National and NSW/ACT Winner
Debb Meyer, Narellan Pools

Debb Meyer has a colourful and accomplished career. Having held senior leadership roles with McDonald's, Foodco and Krispy Kreme, to an Associate with the Franchise Relationships Institute, where she gained a reputation for straight shooting and a true commitment to her clients' success, to now; leading a global brand, Narellan Pools with her husband Chris.

Debb is a sharp business woman, engaging speaker, exceptional facilitator, writer and passionate advocate for women in leadership, but most importantly; a wife to Chris and mother to Xavier and Eliza.

After the devastating death of her son Xavier, Debb became a voice for thousands of woman who suffer the loss of a child. She is proof a devastating loss in life can be the fuel to truly live life with passion, conviction and happiness.

2012 National and QLD/NT Winner
Carolyn McManus, Multi-unit Franchisee, The Coffee Club

Carolyn McManus is a franchisee with The Coffee Club and most recently Ribs and Rumps.  Carolyn has grown the McManus Group to five The Coffee Clubs, and one Ribs and Rumps in six years.  She is the 2011 FCA National Multi-Unit Franchisee of the Year and has been recognised as The Coffee Club's Franchisee of the Year several times.  Carolyn's other achievements include being named North Queensland Business Women of the Year. 


Carolyn speaks at business women's groups, franchise groups and business conventions about her journey and the challenges and benefits of multi-unit franchising.  Outside of work Carolyn enjoys spending time with her family, running and gym.  Her three young daughters ensure she is never bored.

2011 National and SA Winner
Belinda Sugars, Franchisee, Mortgage Choice

After more than 15 years in the banking sector, in 2005 Belinda Sugars started her own business by becoming a Mortgage Choice franchisee.

What began as a home-based venture with 150 clients has grown in just six years to a thriving  business servicing almost 2,500 clients.

The increase has seen Belinda take a second franchise licence and employ four staff.

Winner of the Mortgage Choice State Rookie Award in 2006, Belinda has gone on to win the State Mortgage Choice  Business Excellence Award a massive three times and has been featured as a mortgage expert in 'All About the Money', a published finance guide by Julianne Dowling.

2010 National and VIC/TAS Winner
Sara Pantaleo, CEO, La Porchetta

Sara Pantaleo

Sara Pantaleo, CEO of La Porchetta restaurants took out the VIC/TAS Franchise Woman of the Year Award in August 2010, as well as the National Award at a Gala Presentation dinner at the Marriot Resort and Spa in October 2010.

La Porchetta restaurants is one of the largest Australian-owned franchised restaurant group in the Asia Pacific region with over 80 businesses in the group. Joining the system in 1996 to drive brand growth and renew the corporate direction, Sara quickly ascended to National Manager in 1998 and then, in 2002, was appointed as CEO. Sara drove growth from 12 franchisees to 80 and oversaw the systems expansion into New Zealand and Indonesia.

The last 12 months for Sara have been as challenging as they come, with the sudden passing of her brother and founder of La Porchetta, Rocky Pantaleo. Sara's ability to manage the situation, both from a media, business and personal level - and to keep the business focused and on track - reinforced her already strong contributions to the system and the franchise sector this year.

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