Family affair takes home top prize

October 14, 2021 BY

Grinners: Bendigo Business Excellence Awards Business of the Year winners Thinka Learning and Development Ben Roulston, Lee Roulston, Dee Ridsdale and Tara Ridsdale. Photo: JULIE HOUGH

THE delayed Bendigo Business Excellence Awards’ forced foray into presenting its Gala Awards Night online went forward without a hitch last week, with family run workplace learning and development superstars Thinka reaping the ultimate reward.

After walking away with the Professional Services Firm accolade earlier in the evening, Thinka then trumped a formidable group of fellow category winners to take home the top prize – 2021 Business of the Year.

Head of digital projects Tara Ridsdale said the triumph, while extremely exciting, came as “a bit of a shock.”

“A couple of years ago we won the Small and Succeeding Award, so within two years to have grown the way we have, and especially through COVID, we were just so wrapped,” she said.

“We’ve got such an incredible team of 15 behind us and we’re really happy to share it with them. Straight after the awards we all jumped on a virtual call and had a drink together.”

Ms Ridsdale said one of the secrets to the company’s success comes down to the relationships that Thinka brings to its clients, who are spread across Australia and south-east Asia.

“Eighty per cent of our clients are returned clients,” she said

“We really try to get amongst their businesses. We learn about their culture, their values, the way they speak to their team, and really immerse ourselves, and then deliver the learning as though we’re an arm of their operations.”

There’s something about our unique, proudly Bendigo character, as well, that Tara credits as being a crucial element of Thinka’s DNA.

“I think we’ve always felt like we’ve had that country vibe,” she said.

“The kind of energy that we bring to our clients is pretty easy going, down to earth, with those country values.”

Despite the unusual online nature of the awards, the evening was still peppered with tributes in respect to the resilience of the local business community, as well as praise for all category finalists.

“Never has there been a time where it’s been more important for us to recognise business, to champion the success of business, and to pay our congratulations to all those in Bendigo who have navigated the most amazing last 18 months,” a spectacularly sequined Be.Bendigo chair Marika McMahon said via Zoom.

“The finalists that we are looking at tonight – some of them have pivoted, some of them have changed. All of them have met with some trepidation, some nervousness, but a lot of passion, the challenges that have come their way.”

Be.Bendigo board member and awards chair Damien Tangey, also appearing via Zoom (in a tux no less), wrapped things up by highlighting the hassles in merely getting this year’s awards program over the line.

“We’ve had some great support from Power AV and Tough Cookie Marketing, who have worked really, really hard to organise two events that were both postponed, and now we’ve gone online,” he said.

“I just wanted to say congratulations to all of the finalists, from over 300 nominations in 15 categories. You all deserve awards for getting through the last 18 months.”


Business Awards: all the winners

Customer Focussed category (presented by the Bendigo Advertiser) – Barre Society

Diverse and Inclusive Workplace category (presented by the City of Greater Bendigo) – Clear Dynamics

Emerging and Energised category (presented by WIN Network) – Hairfolk

Events and Attractions category (presented by Bendigo Stadium) – Bendigo Jockey Club

Health and Care category (presented by Monash University) – The Neuro Practice

Hospitality Excellence (presented by the All Seasons Resort Hotel) – The Dispensary

Manufacturing and Innovation (presented by Thales Australia) – Col-Iron Unique Iron Art

Professional Services Firm (presented by VicSuper) – Thinka

Regional Women’s Business Award (presented by Bendigo Marketplace) – Claire Culley

Retail Experience (presented by WDEA Works Bendigo) – Gathered Homewares

Small and Succeeding (presented by Bolton’s Office National) – Simon Rosa Landscaping

Social Change Maker (presented by Spotless) – Bendigo Foodshare

Sustainable and Environmental (presented by Kirkland Lake Gold) – Silver Spoon Estate

Trade Specialist (presented by CVGT Australia) – KIN Skin, Make Up and Body

Young and Professional (presented by Mandalay Resources) – Ashley Morales (Ashley Morales Make Up and Creative)

Business of the year (presented by the Bendigo Bank) – Thinka

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