Cynthia Payne – 2018 Women of the West Business Award Winner

As part of Women in Business' International Women's Day forum, Coleman Greig Lawyers once again joined forces with Western Sydney University to host the 2018 Women of the West award presentations.  This year's list of nominees made hard work for the team of judges, with an eclectic list of incredible women coming from all corners of Western Sydney to represent a wide range of industries, from real estate to nursing and beyond.

The 2018 Women of the West awards were split into two categories: Community and Business.  Cynthia Payne took home the 2018 award for Business, thanks to her incredibly motivating work as both the CEO of SummitCare, and as a senior mentor within the Lucy Mentoring Program.  

SummitCare, started in 1966, is a family-owned aged care organisation specialising in day respite care, home care and residential care.  The company has a range of facilities catering to older Australians, many of which are located within the Hills and Western Sydney regions, the area where Cynthia was brought up and currently lives with her family.  

In 2002 and at just 33, Cynthia was asked to accept the role of CEO with SummitCare, and has over the past 15 years worked towards both increasing and improving the already impressive level of aged care assistance provided across the company's 10+ aged care facilities.  As it stands, Cynthia remains the only woman to reach the top position of a private sector aged care organisation – and has worked tirelessly to help expand SummitCare's reach within the community.  

SummitCare currently generates annual revenue of over $90,000,000, an incredible achievement for any organisation, let alone one which consistently places people, rather than profits at the forefront of everything they do.

According to Cynthia, SummitCare's overall purpose is to 'enable wellbeing, all day every day, for people requiring aged care.  This cascades down to their family members and visitors.  By supporting the people in the Hills community to age well and live in an environment that truly promotes and enhances lifestyle, we will have achieved our mission'.

On top of her inspiring work as CEO of a major organisation, Cynthia takes time out of her increasingly busy work and home life to take part in the Lucy Mentoring Program, an innovative annual leadership program with a primary focus on female university students studying business, finance, economics, accounting and law.  The program is aimed at young women who may not have access to key networks (for reasons such as financial disadvantage, being the first in their family to go to University or moving to Sydney from regional or remote areas) to assist them in their career decision making as they finish university and enter the workforce.  

Cynthia has now been heavily involved with the program for over 12 years, and has mentored over 14 Lucy mentees across both The University of Sydney and Western Sydney University.  Due to her strength as a mentor, Cynthia also acts as senior mentor to new Lucy mentors, assisting to maintain the quality of the program.  As part of this role, she leads a new mentor training session every year at the beginning of the program – which has significantly improved the experience of both students and mentors alike, and has notably increased mentor retention for subsequent years.

Incredibly, on top of her clearly-full schedule, Cynthia is recognised as one of the most active supporters of business excellence and leadership development in Australia, and has in recent years held the position of Chair of the Australian Organisational Excellence Foundation, as well as sitting on the Foundation's review board.  Cynthia is an accomplished orator, having represented Australia as guest speaker at numerous international Excellence Conferences, including the 25th annual conference of the Baldridge Performance Excellence Program.

When asked about how she is able to keep up with everything, Cynthia notes that 'they say when you do what you love it is not work, and I agree.  I have made choices to engage with my passions in life – my family, caring for older Australians, my health – and when you align with these things, even when you are incredibly busy, they don't deplete your energy.  They actually enhance it'.

Congratulations to Cynthia Payne for taking home the 2018 Women of the West award for Business.  It is undoubtedly clear that Cynthia has consistently gone above and beyond the remit of a person in her position in order to not only create opportunities for SummitCare to provide extensive care for older Australians throughout the state – but to provide genuine guidance and mentorship to young Australian women completing their university studies.

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