Standing tall: Queensland’s young leaders recognised in 40 Under 40 Awards

The state’s outstanding young leaders were celebrated at the inaugural Queensland 40 Under 40 Awards on Thursday, with Nicole Detsimas of Belnic Constructions receiving the prestigious First Among Equals Award.

The inaugural winner of the First Among Equals Award, Nicole Detsimas cofounded Belnic Constructions in order to “get a seat at the table” in the male-dominated construction industry and influence business direction and culture.

Belnic Constructions is one of the few commercial construction companies in Australia with two female founders.

Last year, together with cofounders Hayley Bell and Karl Bell, Detsimas turned over $8 million in projects.

The four-year-old company delivers turnkey solutions for clients operating in industries with specific performance or regulatory requirements, such as clinical trial facilities, veterinary hospitals and laboratories.

Detsimas, who has her builder’s licence and a degree in construction management, is passionate about revolutionising the state’s construction industry in the lead up to the 2032 Olympic Games.

As well as encouraging more women into construction, she wants the industry to make greater use of sustainable materials, increase materials recycling and reduce landfill, and engage more in philanthropy.

Detsimas was one of a series of individual winners across seven categories in the Queensland 40 Under 40 Awards presented by InQueensland and The Weekend Edition (scroll down for the full list).

Queensland Government Chief Entrepreneur and 40 Under 40 chair of judges Julia Spicer told those attending the gala night that the group of young leaders was a reflection of the state itself.

“The final 40 Under 40 represent current Queensland with a range of diversity in gender, geography, background and passions. And all make up the vibrancy of the awards,” Spicer said.

Addressing her comments to the 40 alumni, she said the awards offered the alumni an opportunity to gain recognition for their contribution to date and to see how important their work is to the wider community.

“The judging process has been a great chance for all judges to see that Queensland’s businesses, organisations and communities are in safe hands,” she said.

“Use this recognition to propel you forward, be bold, be ambitious and continue to be a contributor to Queensland – we need you.”

Brisbane Powerhouse was a fitting venue for this honouring of boundary-pushing thinkers and doers, and the atmosphere in the room was celebratory.

The crowd of more than 200 enjoyed dinner and excellent hospitality, with wines from Alpha Box + Dice and beers from Felons Brewing Co.

The awards’ seven-member panel of judges included Brisbane Powerhouse CEO and artistic director Kate Gould, who said judging the award nominees was a challenging task given the exceptional calibre of applicants.

“The depth of talent and tenacity displayed by Queensland’s business leaders under 40 is truly inspiring,” Gould said.

“[First Among Equals Award winner] Nicole stands out as an exceptional leader in her field, serving as a remarkable role model for women in the construction industry.

“Her achievements highlight the potential of a leader who has persevered through barriers to attain business success in an industry where women are traditionally underrepresented in senior positions.”

Fellow judge and CEO of Queensland Futures Institute Steve Greenwood said he also was impressed by Nicole and “all that she contributed to one of the key foundations of the Queensland economy”.

“It is very pleasing to see a woman succeed in a field that has been traditionally dominated by males,” Greenwood said.

Commenting on the 40 Under 40 Awards’ inaugural group of alumni, he said Queenslanders have a history of being innovative.

“Queenslanders by their nature are an inherently smart lot, capable of digging deep and creating clever solutions and opportunities, creating the greatest state in Australia,” he said.

“The group of alumni are clear and strong evidence that the typical Queenslander is alive, well and thriving!”

Gould said while all the nominees for the awards came from diverse fields, such as not-for-profits, digital start-ups and the arts, they had similar personal qualities.

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“The common theme among these leaders was their passion for innovation and solving complex problems, rather than solely pursuing financial success,” she said.

“Additionally, there was a strong commitment among the nominees to give back to the community, emphasising their sense of social responsibility.

“This recognition highlights the dynamic economy of Queensland and the drive of young professionals to make a positive impact.”

View the full list of winners here.

The individual winners are:

Nicole Detsimas, cofounder & director of Belnic Constructions: InQueensland Media First Among Equals Award selected by the judging panel as the finalist who embodies the 40 Under 40 as the First Among Equals.

Ryan Norris, cofounder & CEO of Vayeron: Alpha Box & Dice Industry Innovators Award recognises an individual contributing to or a company who is a leading innovator in their field and is contributing to the prosperous future of our state.

Dan Argent, cofounder & CEO of UrbanX: Gadens Entrepreneurial Award recognises an outstanding lateral business thinker and risk taker exhibiting entrepreneurial flair.

Jesse Zielke, director of JRZ Homes: InQueensland Rural & Regional Award recognises the individual who demonstrates influence and leadership in contributing to the prosperity of a rural or regional business and community.

Lauren Fell, director of Lunaria One: VAILO Inspiring Future Leader Award celebrates an individual whose leadership and innovative vision drives progress and growth in a given industry. Nominees display creativity and industry awareness, equipping them with a capacity to predict and adapt to changing landscapes across the private or public sector.

Nicole Dyson, founder & CEO of Future Anything: The Committee for Brisbane Game Changer Award recognises a person who has re-written the rules of business to challenge, inspire and spark significant change.

Cara Aprile, founder of Lilly’s Little Lunchbox: South Bank Corporation and eatSouthBank Food Innovation Award recognising and celebrating innovation and excellence across all categories in the food and beverage industry.

Dave Sleswick, creative director of The Tivoli + The Princess Theatre: The Weekend Edition Creative Thinker Award recognises the person who best demonstrates thinking creatively in relation to any aspect of their business or endeavours, and showing the use of innovation to progress.

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